Motherhood is a funny thing. From the time I was a child I always knew that I wanted to be a mother. In hindsight, I am not even sure why I got a bachelor’s degree when I knew a career wasn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy I did it and I encourage everyone to get an education too. But now that I have three children it doesn’t seem like I really needed it. Motherhood seems to be such learn-on-the-job kind of work… what can a professor teach you about motherhood that you won’t just have to re-learn with real life experience? I even had my pediatrician, who recently had her first baby, tell me that as a mother her feelings outweigh her medical knowledge!
I was so excited when the timing was finally right to try to get pregnant. It took me 5 months to get pregnant the first time and that was probably the longest five months of my life! It took us fifteen months to get pregnant the second time, but it just wasn’t the same because I already had my baby to keep me busy.
After Bean was born, I realized there was a huge learning curve. All my years of working in childcare, babysitting my little sister, and my bachelors in psychology could not prepare me for being a mommy. And the worst part? Even though I loved Bean with all my heart, there were times when I felt resentment and even dislike for her! It shocked me and sent me into a semi-depression at times.
Physically I could provide for her needs: feed her, change her, play with her, I even woke up early when she woke up (and I am not a morning person!). On the outside I was a wonderful mother. But on the inside I struggled. Negative thoughts invaded my mind. There was no way I could ever be good enough, I could never give myself a break, there was always something else– more– better I could have done.
It took me years to get over those feelings. In fact I went to a therapist for the first time ever because I truly felt like I might not ever overcome these awful thoughts. And I so wanted to be a good mother… the kind of mother I knew I could be.
You know what it was? My little Bean was literally so perfect and ahead of the game at every stage that my expectations for her just kept getting higher and higher. And then when she performed, not up to my expectations, but according to her normal developmental stage I felt like I had failed. I couldn’t just love her for who she was. When she was already 3 years old I realized this and my world changed. I let her just be a kid. And I enjoyed it. Our relationship turned inside-out, and for the first time since becoming a mother, I loved it!
Now my Bean is almost 7. Her little sister, Boo is almost 4 (yikes!) and the little brother, Bubba, is just over 2. Yeah, I pretty much have my hands full.
I still struggle on the inside. I often find myself thinking “Why is it my job?!?” Why am I the only one who cleans up spilled milk when it’s already dried on the floor? Why is it my job to pick up all the Legos for the umpteenth time? Why does nobody else put their stuff away where it belongs???? And on and on. These thoughts lead to frustration, resentment, and unhappiness. Then I am this crabby momma that everybody steers clear of, and I certainly am not the momma I want to be, the one I know I can be.
I recently had a lightbulb moment. It seems so simple that it almost embarrasses me. But I guess it was just what I needed to hear. It was the gentle whispering of the Spirit saying to me “You chose this job.” And then I remembered that I wanted to be a momma, ever since I was a kid. And by choosing to stay home with my children (because let’s face it, I could have chosen a career), I chose cleaning up the milk, picking up the Legos and putting everyone else’s things away. It is my job. And I love it… I just need to be reminded of that sometimes.