Motherhood is full of emotions. Good and bad. Amazing and amazingly difficult. Throughout this past year I’ve been learning a lot. I don’t want to be someone who just sits back and lets life happen and then is at the mercy of circumstances. I want to be in control of my life. I realize one can only have so much control, but even for the things that are outside my control, I don’t want to be helpless. I want to take on life with gusto and a gung ho attitude. Motherhood has a way of testing this in me. In all mothers. Testing me to see if I really mean it; if I really have what it takes. When motherhood is wonderful and beautiful and full of love it is easy for me to embrace all its challenges and responsibilities. Then there are other days when motherhood is a screaming, sleepless baby who terrorizes the neighborhood. I guess you could say there’s a certain beauty in that as well, but we can only live through so many of those days in a row before something gives. Usually our patience, positivity, and good attitude. To cope through these days I’ve developed mantras. It sounds a little silly when I actually write that down, but it happened unintentionally. It started with just one as I went through my first really tough week of being a new mother. From there I just added new ones every now and then, usually to adapt to my situation. You know what? They really help. It’s crazy the difference it makes! Affirmations were familiar to me anyway so I just applied them to motherhood and they have as much benefits then as they do now.
1. This is just a season of life
This was the very first mantra I had. Things got tough, really tough. No sleep (it always starts with no sleep), crying baby, nothing is working, I’m frazzled, Luka is tired, everyone has an opinion of what you’re doing wrong or what could magically fix everything. Then in the midst of my frustration and exhaustion I had a moment of clarity. This is just a season of life. A short, temporary season. When it’s over I will look back and these moments will seem so very small. I found so much comfort in that thought. This will pass and when it does I will look back and think it wasn’t that bad after all. You know what? It has been true every time. Most recently, Olivia was teething and had a fever and was awake off and on all night. She was a crying, screaming, hot mess. She was desperately clingy and needy. We always say “clingy” and “needy” in a way that means something bad. So I looked at it as free cuddles. In the middle of the night I carried her, rocked her, sang to her, and thought, “this is just a season of life and I won’t get to do this forever. One day I will miss these moments.”
2. When it’s all said and done and she’s grown and gone, will this really matter?
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like if you are home with your baby (children) too much you start to fixate on things that are just irrelevant. I need to clean the kitchen. I need to take a shower right now. I need to blah blah blah. Does the house really need to be spotless? No. No, it does not. I touched on this with my other post about not getting caught up in the perfection pursuit. When she has grown up and is gone and I look back at our life together at home will I ever think, “I am so glad that I never let the sink fill up with dishes!”? Of course not! I want to remember that I loved her and every moment with her. I want to know that I didn’t let the petty things get in the way of my love for her.
3. It’s not worth getting upset
Make up done, hair done, clean clothes, and your baby wants to hug you and bury her oatmeal-covered face in your bosom and give you open-mouth kisses all over your face. “NOOOOOOO!” That’s what I normally did. Or, “Luka! Luka, take her! TAKE HER!” This isn’t the only thing that would get me riled. Olivia entered the stage where she is obsessed with the trash can. She wants to take out everything in it and put all our most valuables inside. Taking out smelly, nasty diapers sent me into the throes of disgust. “OLIVIA!!!!! YUCK! GROSS!” Then I started to think this through (as I do when I repeatedly have negative feelings), how can I solve this? For the garbage, let’s just put it out of sight. Anything I don’t want her getting into I try to find a place where it is out of view. It works well. She still goes after it occasionally, but isn’t taking stuff out anymore. More importantly, my clean clothes and nice hair? Am I really going to deny my little girl’s affection for the sake of intact mascara? I’m a mother for God’s sake! Of course my shirt will have food on it! Do I care so much about others thinking badly of my appearance that I would push away those precious hugs and kisses? Absolutely not. Never. So now I willingly accept those moments full of love and mashed banana and spaghetti.
4. What will I remember?
This goes hand in hand with number 3. Am I going to remember that I had perfect makeup? That I kept my clothes spotless? In the grand scheme of life, is that what matters the most? Will I look back when I’m old and gray and think, “Thank GOD I had a clean house!” I will think back to our days together and remember I loved and cherished those messy floors because they meant her curiosity was flying and she was busy inspecting those things. I will remember we cuddled, she gave me those tight little hugs and how I held hands with sticky little fingers and that I loved every moment of it.
5. I did not decide to be a mother so my life could be easier
Here we wrap it all up nicely. I think of this a lot when the going gets rough. When I decided I wanted to be a mother I knew full well it was not going to be an easy job. Being a mom does not mean life somehow magically POOF! all your dreams come true, everything in life is made right, and your baby is only ever a little cherub of love and joy all the time. We all know parenthood is not going to be easy or a walk in the park so why do we get mad at our kids when they do what they will always do and create messes and trouble for us? It’s what they do! They’re not supposed to be making our lives easier! So why do we get upset? I feel it’s because I lose sight of the big picture. I get caught up in the here and now. All I can see is the mess in front of my face and I’m not looking at the relationship we will have when my baby is a teenager. It will be hard sometimes and that is okay. I will embrace it all: the good times and the hard times. I welcome parenting and all its beautiful challenges because the privilege of having a child is so wonderful that I don’t want a day to go by that I am not deeply grateful for my little one. We aren’t perfect, we never will be, so we don’t need to try to be perfect all the time. Brené Brown said it well in her book, Daring Greatly,
“The real questions for parents should be: ‘Are you engaged? Are you paying attention?’ If so, plan to make lots of mistakes and bad decisions. Imperfect parenting turns into gifts as our children watch us try to figure out what went wrong and how we can do better next time.”