I will just say right from the start; if you are reading this in hopes hearing some of my happy light-hearted thoughts about being a mama, may I suggest that you leave this post and instead read this one or this one or even this one . They are a great deal happier.
I never spent much time dreaming about getting married; other than once telling my mom that if I had a wedding it would be outside at our home (it was), I don’t remember ever really thinking about my wedding much. Not to say that I didn’t hope for Mr. Tall, dark and handsome some day and I *may * have had a few infatuations. What I did dream about was being a mama. I think that I even wanted ten children for quite a long time and I played with dolls for a long time just wishing that I had my own baby. Oh, I had other dreams as well but that was my constant, mostly deeply rooted one.
And now, I am a mama; it is now one of my primary roles. I love that and in many ways it is what I had dreamed it would be. But, (of course there has to be a but) so often lately, I think, “why didn’t ‘they’ tell me?” I say ‘they’ because I’m not sure who they are. They didn’t tell me that those little creatures I would love so fiercely would also have the ability to frustrate and confuse me in a way that no other ever has. I often hear people say that they thought that they knew everything about parenting before they had children only to discover that they knew nothing. Actually for me the basic beliefs and thoughts I had on parenting pretty much remain the same, beyond that I didn’t know that there was “everything” to know.
I didn’t know that having a deep desire to be a mother didn’t also mean that it would be something that came naturally to me. Some areas are definitely my strengths and I would even say that I do really well at them but many feel completely foreign. I had no idea that multiple times during a day I would feel completely inept and at a loss with what next. I had no idea that I would stand squarely with my feet in both the gentle parenting camp and the obedience/discipline camp in such a way that I belong in neither. I wish someone had told me that “go with your instinct” only worked if you knew or agreed with where your instinct was taking you.
And being on display basically 24/7 for two but soon to be three sets of eyes? Who can cope with that? I can’t. Never mind what any one watching thinks, what about those little minds and hearts that are developing based on what they are surrounded by. Dare I express how many times I have wanted to turn in my badge just in the past week alone? I had hear that fear is so much greater after one has children, but I don’t fear things like broken limbs, harm from strangers, or awful sicknesses. Still, I battle fear continually; fear that I am doing it wrong, fear that they are not being adequately equipped for the life ahead of them. Occasionally, I am almost paralyzed by the fear that I am not what they need.
Then there is my selfishness, I just don’t appreciate having it laid bare the way that it is. When I just don’t want to read one more book, or do one more craft, or answer that same question again. Then there are those really selfish days when I don’t want to offer that cuddle, or wipe that little bottom, or cook another nutritious meal. Or when I JUST WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE. I sound pretty selfish right? Maybe I should turn in my badge.
Why is it then that I guard them with the ferocity of a mother bear, determine to provide for them like the vixen who raided our hen house to feed her fox pups, and delight in them the way that Mrs. Mallard does her ducklings in Make Way for Ducklings? Is it because really I am just a wonderful Mama having a bad hour. I don’t think so as I really am everything that I mentioned and more. I’ve thought about it multiple times this week. As I snuggled a sick little one close, as I spoke words sharply to a child needing gentleness, as I guided a little finger wanting to count the animals, and as I hid in the tub and allowed hot tears to flow; I thought about this whole business of being a mama. Would I have chosen it had I known? I don’t know, perhaps not. Yet likely, I would have. Because for all my foolish self-centeredness that thinks I am responsible for whom my daughters become, I know, I KNOW that the same Life that carries me forward when I want to roll over and hide my head under my pillow is the same Life working in them. I could come up with no other explanation, no other reasoning, and no other hope. That Life that won’t let the badge drop from my trembling fingers and that breathes grace into the moments that I have deemed destroyed.