The last five years have done that strange thing that time sometimes does when it’s packed full of living. It warps and folds and twists so that the time seems both long and short. So much has happened, but it was a little stunning to type the title of this blog. Only five years? What I have learned is nothing stunning or new, but those lessons have certainly changed me.
The uncomfortable part of motherhood is that my kids are the ones who have seen me screw up really, really badly. They have seen me at my worst, even more than my spouse. I cringe when I think of the number of times I have lost my temper and turned into a crazy banshee. I have always apologized, and they have always forgiven. But I cringe all the same. That tendency of mine has, thank the Lord, gotten better over the years. My bout with postpartum depression after my oldest son was born was a very difficult time, and it wasn’t until dealing with depression after my miscarriage that I realized how important my brain chemicals were in my general well-being. I have figured out how to recognize and manage those darker times. As a result, a happy family equals a momma who works out on a regular basis.
There are equally wonderful parts of motherhood. There is a certain magic to tickles and giggles and hugs. There is delight in being part of a child’s firsts. I loved the time when my little ones learned to purse their lips and kiss my cheek. Nothing cuter than seeing those slobbery lips leading the way for a good night kiss. The openness with which children embrace life is contagious. When they figure out how to pull themselves up to stand or open a lid or pick their first blueberry, the moments of discovery are breathtaking.
There are also those moments of motherhood that bring out the momma stance. You know the one I’m talking about — hands on hips, hip cocked to the side, one eyebrow up. For instance, my youngest child finds it necessary to scream about everything. Most of time I can tell when he is simply in a temper, but then there are times when I come into a room with him lying flat on his back, crying, while his brother looks both worried and guilty. Cue momma stance. I ask my older son, “What did you do?” His response? “I don’t want to answer that question.” He doesn’t have to. As his mother, I know what has just happened.
You also develop both a third eye and eerily accurate sixth sense as a mother. We were browsing through one of our favorite stores recently that has both an indoor and outdoor area. My boys were happily weaving in and out of the potted plants. My youngest went towards the stacks of pottery. I wasn’t worried as they were all larger than he and stacked in such a way that they weren’t going to fall on him or be pushed over — except for one smaller piece. It was sitting on top of another pot, only vaguely near where my toddler was walking. But I immediately went into intercept mode. “No, Seth,” I called. “Don’t touch!” For unerringly, he had noticed that one pot. As I’m moving in his direction, he gives it just a small push. “Nooooooo,” I yell. Too late, of course. Completely broken pot. We left the store shortly after that.
I think, by far, the most important thing that I have learned is not place expectations on myself that I can’t fill. To not look at other moms and think that I should be like them — or not like them. As long as I am doing the best I know to do, that is all God asks of me. If another mom makes choices I wouldn’t make, who cares? I don’t need to judge her either.
While the above is the most important thing I have learned, the most amazing thing I have learned is that your heart never runs out of love. (Don’t roll your eyes at me.) It, in fact, overflows, with the more people that you are given to loved deeply. Not that I don’t feel tired and run down. I am a mom after all.