“Me, too.” I nodded.
And I silently believed we would have complete control over this.
I thought we would have well-behaved children. After all, we had been well-behaved children, ourselves. Hadn’t we? I would teach our children to pick up after themselves, to use good manners, to never eat the icing right from the birthday cake. They would have a healthy diet and a regular bedtime. Our kids could never become the loud, wild hooligans I’d observed in other families.
|The journey begins . . .|
What’s more, when I became a mother, I wouldn’t yell at my kids. Of course I’d raise my voice at times. If they ran towards the street, I’d have to yell, “Stop!” I’d have moments of frustration. But the uncontrolled rage I’d seen? The way some parents seemed to forget what a gift their children were? That wouldn’t be me.
To be fair to my pre-motherhood self, I did recognize that children had to make their own choices at some point. I knew the fate of their souls was not something parents could control. I just thought the individuation would happen much closer to adulthood. Having five younger siblings and a plethora of foster siblings, you would think I might have observed enough childish behavior to realize people come into the world with a will of their own.
But I had it all figured out.
And I was horribly judgmental.
If we just had a healthy atmosphere in our home, I thought. If we started out right from day one, we’d have the happy, sweet, clean children I imagined.
I think I began realizing the error in my thinking as the birth of our first child approached. Why else would I have devoured Baby Wise as though it would save me? I remember being so stressed out one day as I was running errands towards the end of my pregnancy. I wondered how on earth I was going to handle these stressors when I had the unpredictability of children added to them. But it wasn’t until my baby was older, when she showed me her inherent strong will, that I began to realize motherhood was not what I thought it was going to be.
I write to you now as an enlightened woman. A decade into this adventure.
Marriage was not what I thought it would be. Motherhood is not at all what I thought it would be. And I’ll bet you money the next stage of life will not be what I imagine with my rose-colored lenses firmly in place.
I never knew how much I would love these kids. And I never knew how that love would wring out my heart. I never imagined how dirty my house could get, how achy bone-tired this body could be, how many times I would repeat the same request.
The dirt. The lost sleep. The bodily fluids. The constant interruptions.
The fear. The worry. The on-my-knees knowing deep in my soul I can’t do this on my own.
The resentment. The surrender. The hugs. The snuggles. The kisses.
The rage that comes from nowhere and shakes me to the core. The guilt.
The peace when I see their sleeping faces and ask God to please help me do better tomorrow.
The knowing that I could really screw this up and God would still love me. And He’d still love them and pursue them in spite of my failures.
That is motherhood for me. It’s second-guessing and a balancing act. It’s almost never black and white. I love it and I hate it. It’s the highest calling and the hardest job. It’s never-ending.
And it’s breathtaking.
I saw myself with quiet, well-behaved children.
I got wild hooligans.
Highly creative and imaginative little people.
Quite often, they do not answer adults, especially when I really want them to.
The little one destroyed the icing on her brother's cake before it was cut.
They are extremely loud.
They are the pickiest eaters I’ve ever met.
Motherhood has broken me. And it is refining me.
I’m unbelievably proud of the children I’m privileged to mother.
Sometimes they embarrass me. Yes.
I pray all the time that in spite of my utter inadequacy, they will grow up to love God and their fellow man. That they’ll be fulfilled in this crazy world. That they’ll find their niche and be successful at life. That they’ll learn the most important things before it’s too late.
I am not up to this task. It is too big for me.
Every day I’m grateful to be held by strong hands.
The same hands that pick up the pieces of my broken soul, will pick up the pieces of my frail attempts and make something beautiful.