Mother’s day naturally requires a mother related post. But for some reason it’s a harder subject for me to write about.
I think the whole topic is personal and I know that this day in particular can be sensitive on so many levels.
I didn’t grow up with a “Mother heart” – longing for the days when I’d have my own kids. In fact, quite the opposite. I had big dreams of an advertising agency job and wasn’t quite sure if I’d be good at the mothering gig. I had a wonderful, loving and patient mother and I’m sure it broke her heart just a bit when I continual claimed I didn’t want that life.
But life is funny – and rarely can we predict our own future. I met Steve and I loved him and he wanted nothing more than to have a family. And by that time, I had matured considerably and I too wanted kids but I was still a little concerned that motherhood might be a tough fit. And never did I imagine 5 kids.
Even after years of practice – motherhood has never come easy.
I enjoy alone time – which doesn’t happen as a mom.
I have high expectations – which is hard with kids.
I think logically – which doesn’t translate well to three year olds.
I’m sarcastic – which confuses kids.
It seems as though everything a good mother is, is something I don’t naturally have and something I have to work really hard for. But for me it’s something that’s worth working for; it is the life I chose whole heartedly. Those five tiny humans are my greatest project. They are always on my to-do list and they occupy the majority of my thoughts.
Motherhood is a long journey. I am not the mother today that I was when Hallie was born. I’ve grown. I’ve changed. And my perspective is different. There have been great rewarding moments where I’ve been overcome with gratitude that this is my life. And I’ve also had periods of depression that I didn’t know existed – where I would’ve easily walked away from my life. And then there’s everything in between. The daily moments of laughter and equal moments of worry that comprise that majority of my life.
It’s laundry. Kids telling jokes. Piano practice. Finding missing shoes. Cooking dinner. Reading scriptures. Helping with math homework. Shooting hoops. Building forts. Mopping floors. Movie nights. Middle of the night wake up calls. Evening bike rides. Kids that tease. Chore charts. Lawn work. School programs. Prayer. Grocery shopping. Service. Tough conversations. Messy craft projects. The list is never ending.
It’s motherhood. It’s my greatest and most challenging work.
A couple weeks back I decided it was time to stop nursing Briggs. I was down to just one feeding at night which was easy – but it was time. I’ve never nursed a day longer than one years old but I think I kept putting it off because I didn’t want to get emotional with my last kid. It was easier to just not think about it.
The last night I nursed him, we were in his room cozied up in the comfortable chair. I started to do the math. In the 11 years since I had started having kids – I had been nursing a child for 5 of those years. (and over 4 years were spent being pregnant) 5 of the 13 years we’ve been married I have been nursing a child.
I was fortunate with my 5 kids that nursing came easy. I didn’t always love it. In fact, it was often inconvenient and burdensome and usually around 6 months I wanted to throw in the towel. It’s funny how it was about the same time frame with every kid. It’s just a lot. But 6 months was our magic month and suddenly it became easier and faster and less rigorous. And that was what I needed to go another 6 months.
I enjoyed the bonding time but didn’t enjoy middle of the night feedings. I enjoyed watching them fall asleep but didn’t enjoy pulling over on road trips for a feeding. I enjoyed the cost savings but didn’t enjoy when babies wouldn’t take bottles. There were great moments and not so great moments.
As I pondered just how much time I had spent in that chair or one similar nursing a child, I was full of gratitude and surprisingly very little sadness. I’ve had a good long run. Chapter closed.
He’s at the fun, but exhausting, exploring stage. He wants to see and touch everything and usually test it against his mouth. Every drawer is opened and it’s contents emptied. Cupboards are no longer safe. Our tub is full of items that he finds and throws in there. The q-tip box has been picked up multiple times. The bathrooms remain on lockdown.
He’s busy. And messy.
And then this picture reminds me what it’s like to explore a world where everything is a new experience. He saw the sun coming through the shutters and it was hitting his arm. He waved it up and down watching the light dance across it. Not quite sure what was going on. He stood there for a while doing the same thing over and over again. I often forget as I’m walking from one room to another cleaning up after him that he’s just exploring. He’s trying to figure out his little body and build experiences in that little brain of his. This particular day he played with light.
This little guy loved having his grandpa in town for the week. He followed him around, insisted they sat next to each other to eat and read the same book over and over again. He skipped his nap most days because what grandpa was doing was far more exciting. And it finally caught up with him – he was tuckered out. He doesn’t fall asleep easily – and never does he fall asleep outside of his bed.
But tonight he couldn’t keep his eyes open. I asked him to grab his pajamas while I fed Briggs and put him to bed. I came out to find him snuggled up with Hallie’s blanket on the couch. He was screaming at me just an hour earlier because I took a bite of his bread. And now in a dim room with some light from the kitchen spilling over, he was quiet and still and I was filled with gratitude for this spunky kid.
Motherhood is exhausting and yet pulls through with amazingly redemptive moments!
Briggs had a hard time falling asleep. I knew he wasn’t feel well, so I entered his room, scooped him out of his crib and cradled him in the corner chair in his room. We both worked to get comfortable in the chair. He laid on my chest as I slouched to rest my head on the back of the chair.
Briggs turned his head from the left side, to the right and back to the left over and over again. His wiggles slowed – he was awake, but still. I had one hand holding the back of his head and the other hand rubbing his back slowly.
He suddenly seemed really long; his head was on my shoulders and his feet were digging into my legs. He didn’t curl up the way he once had. Instead his legs dangled. As I was mentally lamenting his size, my back rubbing hand had stopped and my hand on his head started to massage.
I gently pulled the curls on the back of his head. His hair is getting long. I want to cut it, but part of me only wants to cut the top so I can keep his baby curls. The minute I cut his hair, he really won’t look like a baby – then again as I snuggled up to him, he didn’t feel like a baby. Not anymore. So maybe a haircut to match wouldn’t be so bad.