When this blog was launched two years ago, I excitedly outlined in my menopausal brain what my thought-provoking posts might be for the entire year: the background of why I moved to New Mexico, the majesty of the purple mountains, the deep symbolism of the quaking aspens in the fall. Blah blah blah. And naturally, my original plans also included discussing the joys of being a mom. The pride one has when they first gaze upon those cherub like faces, their first dance recital, the pain experienced when they sprout their wings. You get the idea. But those things came to a screeching halt recently, as I got to hear a one year-old scream for 3 hours on a plane. Ah the joys of motherhood. But before any of you hit the delete button, allow me to say my heart truly broke for both the parents and the child. (Actually, it was more like my eardrums that broke after putting up with all of that screaming. Just kidding! )
Those poor exhausted parents couldn’t help that their sweet baby’s ears were hurting from the high altitude. And no, you can’t give a one-year-old gum to chew to alleviate the pain. (although I think the dad was ready to break out a pack of Wrigley’s) But it was his reaction during those high decibel squeals that I found the most fascinating: he kept looking frantically at his wife, the mother of his angelic baby, as if she was supposed to whip out some magic wand and make everything a peaceful utopia once again. Ahhhhhh, there’s that desperate cry for help, in which so many believe only a mother can quell. So just how DO we mothers do that? How do we pull all those rabbits out of our hats? What's the secret? It’s nothing short of a David Copperfield act in Vegas, sans the cape of course. Better yet, just replace it with a stained t-shirt and unwashed jeans. We try desperately to get everyone to practices on time (er, almost), dinner prepared, keep our babies fed and content, attend teacher conference and take notes, diaper bags packed, practice sounding out words with our preschooler (with the pressure from God knows who, that they should be reading the classics by age 10!), make sure homework is completed, college applications are turned in on time and that essays have been proofread. And last but not least, we TRY to have dinner together, pray together and assure ourselves that in some way we can at least look like a normal, nuclear family. (Or at least on Facebook. Have mercy.)
But here's a newsflash: please allow me to let you in on the secret behind all this hocus pocus. (something my fellow mothers/readers already know): WE CAN’T DO ALL THIS STUFF! But our knuckles will remain bloodied and raw from trying, because that’s just how we roll. Or is it? Perhaps that’s how we’ve been taught to roll or how we’ve chosen to handle this motherhood thing? I do believe that’s a question for the ages and a topic my girlfriends and I have discussed, ranted and huffed over (and that’s putting it nicely) via text, email, and late night phone calls. Can I get a amen??
We have cried into cups of tea, sobbed over glasses of green juice (we hear it calms our nerves and prevents wrinkles) and vehemently griped over a few glasses of vino (for our hearts, of course) And yet we always come back to the same conclusion: MOTHERHOOD IS HARD. There’s some days it just flat out sucks, but oops, there goes me using a word that I told my daughters they should NEVER EVER use, because it's TOTALLY unladylike. Oh well, once again, we mothers aren't perfect and sometimes I suppose that word just seems to cover it best.
But after 27 years of the toughest job I’ve ever had, as well as talking with moms from Dallas to Decatur, I’m convinced that the SOONER we accept that we will often fail, that we cannot fix every bump, hurt feeling, or take to the ground every bully who hurts our kids, the quicker we'll arrive at some form of peace or semi-sanity that allows us to ENJOY these blessings God placed in our lives. We gotta get real, girlfriends. That’s what God expects from us and that’s what we must do.
Oh but it’s hard, huh? Allow me to vent for just a second. If none of these apply to you, well, consider yourself perfection and reach up there and polish that flawless crown you love to post on Instagram. But know--- we have your number.
Can You Relate?
1. Breast feeding wasn’t just a bonding time. There were days you thought your nipples would fall off as the pain was absolute torture and you begged your husband to purchase a can of formula. Just once, so you could sleep. You cursed him for not having breasts.
2. When that kid bit your kid, there was a small part of you that wanted your kid to bite them right back, even though you knew that wasn’t the right thing to do.
3. The day your child got their driver’s license and drove to school. You count the minutes until they’ve had time to safely arrive at school. Or perhaps you secretly followed them all the way there. Uh oh.
4. You went to bed at 2 A.M to make sure they had a homemade treat to take to the bake sale, instead of having to stop at the grocery store...again.
5. You cried more than your own child when they received their first vaccines.
6. You cried more than your own child when the teacher said a kid didn’t want to play with your kid. (Who on earth wouldn’t want to play with your kid?!)
7. After bringing home your newborn from the hospital, you went two or three days without bathing because you were so darn exhausted. You both fell asleep during feeding time.
8. You were furious and scared at the same time when your kid forgot to call and let you know they’d arrived safely at their destination. (they were just having too much fun and forgot!) Regardless if they're grown, you never sleep peacefully until you know they're okay.
9. You get the “eye roll.” Over and over and over and over…..
10. You’re just as nervous about your kids ACT scores and college applications as they are. Maybe more.. You know it’s a big deal and they haven’t quite figured that out yet
11. You watch your child’s heart get broken and know there isn’t a single bloomin’ thing you can do about it but pray.. and pray some more.
12. You actually get excited about cleaning your grown kid's apartment, even though your own floors are a wreck. She has no idea how good it feels to be needed...just a little.
If you can relate to at least one of these things, then congratulations—you’re a bonafide normal mom who rides the roller coaster of life and sometimes wants to turn in her unused tickets and scream, “Let me off of this thing! I’m getting sick!” Sometimes I wonder if my greatest contribution to my daughters is my showing them what NOT to do. Sheesh.
But then…..Then there are days that truly make you forget those unfortunate circumstances ever existed.
Your child comes home and wants to have a heart to heart talk about something troubling her. And she listens.. and she learns…
You’ve been up all night with your little one due to an ear infection and crave thirty minutes of sleep. Your nerves are totally shot, and yet when you pick up your angel from their crib, they innocently smile and suddenly life is beautiful.
You watch your son get his first home run and can’t fight back the tears as he comes across home plate. (you make double sure that some part of their body touches the darn thing!)
You hear your teen daughter up in her room, butchering a foreign language that she’s determined to learn. But a few years later, you’re visiting that inquisitive daughter in that country where she’s now living and speaking like a native. You beam with so much pride you can barely hold it together. (but you also must remember NOT to embarrass her!)
You drive 700 miles across the country to unpack your baby girl (yes that’s how you still see her) at a college she's admired for years. You can’t be sure if you’re crying out of sheer fear of her being so far away, or the pride in her long journey to get there. Probably both.
You sit in the floor amidst a zillion toys, dirty dishes in the sink, clothes in both the washer and dryer, and play restaurant with your child. They take delight in serving you pretend plastic French fries, donuts, and apples. You enjoy every bite, over and over and over…
One of your daughter’s has entered the work force and you squeal on the inside as they call her “Dr.” You pray she gets enough rest, treats her patients with love, and that they see Jesus when they see her.
You get THE call: a daughter has met the love of her life and he’s asked for her hand in marriage. You have to sit down after the call just to stop your head from spinning. A totally new type of prayers and worries now commence, as you’ve been down that path already. You know that although marriage is a beautiful thing, the road is tough—regardless of how much you’re in love.
Oh the joys of motherhood. It’s tough, it’s easy, it’s fun, it’s infuriating, it’s heart-breaking and it’s scary. And it’s a very beautiful thing. This year was quite the celebratory occasion, as my youngest bird permanently flew the nest, graduated from college and is now in grad school in Pennsylvania. As a Ph.D. candidate in cognitive psychology, she has plenty of study material in her crazy mother alone. Oh, but just because our kids are now living on their own, that doesn’t mean our worries as parents dissipate. Ah, they just morph into something entirely different.
1. We worry and pray they're able to pay their bills in a timely manner and be respectable (and respected) at their workplace.
2. We worry about them on the road when it’s snowing or sleeting. Scratch that—we worry anytime they’re on the road, period.
3. We hope we’ve taught them how to stand on their own two feet and that they’re confident in their abilities to tackle any grown up obstacle.
4. We try to make sure that regardless of their ages, they’ll always feel comfortable in reaching out to us for advice. (yes, we’ll TRY so ever lovin’ hard not to give it out unless asked. Yeah, there’s that.)
5. We pray our children know that whether they succeed or fail, the bottom line is that they TRY. We cheer for them as they chase THEIR dreams (not ours), all while hoping they know we’re here to catch them if they fly or fall.
I'll confess, the jury is still out on which stage of parenthood is the toughest. I’ll have to get back with you this matter, as I’m right in the thick of it with many of you readers. Oh, and don’t ask my sweet mom her opinion, as I’m sure she’ll say the same. I may be in my 50’s, but my momma still worries also. Whether it’s hearing me complain about the pain in my limbs or her loving my Facebook photo of my garden, she celebrates with me on the mountain and holds me tenderly in the valleys. Thank you Jesus for Moms.
Thanks be to God, He provided us a parenting manual so we don’t screw it up too badly. In His infinite wisdom, we've been given His word and more importantly, His son, to bestow on us a heaping does of GRACE. Sisters-in-Christ, we have no choice but to bestow the same to our loved ones. Get to know His word. Read Ephesians. Study Matthew. Live Romans. Get in a quiet place and get to know Him…
As I close out this blog post, I’ve received a photo of one daughter’s new orchid in bloom, and a text from the other letting me know she's reached her destination safely. Each message makes me smile, for I know they’re going to be just fine. God has them. He’s had them all along. My nest may be empty, but with His help, I’ll start filling it right back up with brand new blessings. If you’re in this stage of life, I pray that you will too. And if you know a new mom that can benefit from this post, please share. We're all in this together.