Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Life isn't always good in the mother hood

So today is a good day to be a mommy and I am thankful that there are no messes to clean up, boo boos to mend, or tantrums to tune out, and as I relish this moment, I am thinking about my dear friend who rarely has days such as this. My “I love being a mommy” days are pretty few and far between and I am so not afraid to admit it. And so I sit here wondering, “Why do we feel like we’re bad mommies when we so much as hint that we are not enjoying every moment?” Let me lay some groundwork. I am not one of those women whose sole purpose in life is to be a mommy. I wish I could say that I want nothing more and nothing less, but I’m no liar. The truth is that I wanted a family and would never in a million years change my life as it is today or regret my decision to have children in any way, but I have other dreams and aspirations waiting on the horizon for me to wave the burp cloth of surrender and pursue them. I simply do not want to be a mom who has no life outside of her children. Yes, my children are a giant part of my life now, but there are other facets to that life as well, other talents, other gifts, and other desires I’d love to explore someday.

They tell you being a mother is hard. They tell you you’ll spend countless nights without a minute of rest. They tell you you’ll be an emotional wreck from time to time. What they don’t tell you is that you’ll likely feel ashamed if you don’t enjoy every minute of it. Maybe I’m the only one, but as much as I love my babies, I think motherhood is a fairly thankless job, at least in the early years. You exist to meet the needs of another human being and get very little in return. You are stretched to your limits, pushed to your breaking point, and then asked to give just a little more. Yes, it’s difficult, but in ways I never imagined. And I guess I’m just tired of feeling “less than” for not being afraid to admit that.

I watched that movie, Marley and Me a few days ago and in one scene, Jennifer Aniston tearfully relates that she has given up every part of herself that made her who she is for the sake of being a mother. I swear I’ve had that conversation verbatim with my husband. So many of the things he fell in love with disappeared when I became a mommy. They should warn men of that; perhaps the divorce rate would be much lower. Hey guys, your wife will change drastically when she has children. She must be all things to all people and that means, many of the things you adore about her will fall to the wayside for a while. But I have to believe they return as our children grow up. I have to hold out hope that I will one day be that carefree, risk-taking, free-spirited, independent woman I once was.

And in the meantime, I think our society needs to be a bit more forgiving of the moms who don’t constantly boast of the rewards of being a mother. Sometimes those rewards don’t surface until much later. I think we need to temper our stories of success and our moments of joy with the moments that we’d care to forget. Chances are, when you are on your 375th cry of, “I swear, you’re going to be the death of me,” there’s a very good chance thousands of other mothers are mumbling the very same thing at that very same moment. What every mommy needs is a little encouragement, a little understanding, and a whole lot of, “Oh yeah, me too” words of comfort. It’s okay to be less than perfect. It’s ok to have 67 frustrating days for every 3 joyful days. It’s ok to wish you could just sleep when you want to sleep, take a sick day every week, and eat a meal while it’s still hot. What we do is no small feat. Let’s face it; sometimes it’s trying, at best.

Hang in there mommies, you’ll survive the early years. Soak up every fleeting moment of contentment, share the little things that make you smile and the huge things that make you wish there was a vineyard in your back yard. And if you intend to give yourself any chance at all, ask God to be your guide, because Lord knows none of us can do it without Him. And when you feel like the worst mommy ever, give yourself the grace He gives you and know that you are not alone. And with that, this morning I sat down to read my Bible for the first time in like, a hundred years and my darling PJ came running out of the room yelling, “Mama, what doing, mama?” He then proceeded to sit beside me, hold my hand, kiss me and say, “I wuv you Mama.” And that ladies, is why we do it.