I gave birth to my son at 20 years old and the moment he was taking his first breath, I literally said out loud, “I want to do this again.” I still feel the same, and quite frankly, don’t think I’ll ever escape the desire to mother another, and another, and another (have you heard that enough here on the blog?).
But there’s this other side of mothering, beyond the warm fuzzies, nurturing, and the continual access to love. It’s the ugly part of mothering.
The ugly part? Okay, well maybe just the damn hard part(s). They are the things that make you think you have enough children already.
They are the struggles, and they don’t seem to be much of a secret. So let’s go there first, so we can move on to the pronounced goodness of mothering.
Worry, fear, anger, and guilt. It happens. Sometimes more than others. It can be real tough, but these are all feelings of being human. It helps to come back to love, to let go of perfection, to remember they have their own journey, and to trust life.
Making your marriage a priority. As a couple that married and made babies from the beginning, that had nearly no dates til a year ago, and have had someone sleeping in our bed with us for over ten years, I can say that it’s about the quality of importance your bring to this relationship.
It’s about the love, the support, the time to talk.
It’s about caring about their happiness as much as your own, it’s about that inconvenient thing known as compromise, and it’s about remembering the words of my dear Josh: “It was us before the kids and it will be us after the kids.” (you don’t want to be strangers to each other once the kids are gone, do you?)
I know how hard this can be.
As Mama’s we are wired to put our children first and all these messages of putting ourselves and our marriages first seem to go directly against nature.
But we can make our marriage a priority. We can see our relationship as an important connection to our families, making time for one another before choosing less imperative things.
“The greatest favor we can do for our children is to give a visible example of love and esteem to our spouse. As they grow up, they may look forward to maturity so they too can find such love.” -Eucharista Ward
Finding time for your passions. I struggle with this one head on. My kids come first. It’s just how it is. In my opinion, it’s how it should be. This time while they are little and their heartstrings are so directly attached to yours is way.too.short. I soak that up as much as I can be present with it.
But, as the older two get a bit older, I can also see the benefits of modeling for them the beauty of following our own passions and paving the way for them to follow theirs.
But regardless, it can be hard to say yes to yourself.
It isn’t just the kids that need you. For most of us, there’s the kids, and the husband, and the homeschooling adventures/schooling, and work, and friends, and meals, and wiping butts, and gardens, and laundry, and breastfeeding, and bills, and dishes, and meals, and cleaning, and the animals, and the answering of questions, and the meals, and the meals, and the meals, and the meals, and all the cleaning that follows the meals, and the shopping, and the whatever else you or I think of after writing/reading this.
Of course, most of those can be lovely when you’re present and filled with contentment.
But life gets messy…there’s a lot to think about….a lot to balance….a lot of curveballs that make all of the above mentioned things seem like a true blessing. (Or rather, they’re a blessing regardless. Is it not a gift to have children to cook meals for, a family to grow food for, a home to clean, and butts to wipe?)
It can be tough to keep that perspective and tough to make time for your own passions.
But guess what, when you need to do something, or you really want to do something, you make time for it. And the best thing to do is to just be present with each thing. Single task (haha-does that exist for Mom’s?) and be here now as best you can. All we have is this moment, so give fully to whatever you are doing in each moment.
Finding time to nourish yourself. We are pulled, stretched, prodded, and picked in so many directions it is quite mad. But all I can say is you just must make time to simply be. Sometimes five minutes to lay upon the grass is all you need.
Okay, so let’s move on to the gifts of motherhood:
Birth teaches you so much. When we give birth, with our body and intuition as our main guide, we are taught complete surrender and trust. It’s this magical way of revealing the innate beauty and process of life itself. And when birth (or pregnancy) doesn’t go as we plan, it teaches us humbleness and acceptance.
Unconditional love. To have life inside of you and bring it through your body creates a love that cannot be broken by any condition.
Knowing what truly matters. These sacred, wrinkled, darling little precious beings are entrusted with our guidance and love, and from the moment they are born they know what truly matters. Breath, milk, warmth, and love. As they grow they show us how to be present in the moment, how to follow our heart, how to find adventure in anything, and how to forgive.
Mothering causes us to feel every emotion, sometimes in the same day. It isn’t always pretty, and for some it steals their sanity, their sexuality, their body image, and their freedom. For some it gives them meaning, a mushy heart, strength, and hope. It is the most exhausting, fulfilling, loving, and maddening role of a woman’s life. It is ugly and it is oh so beautiful.
love from my Mama heart to yours,