Motherhood is hard.
I’m not talking about the first few months of nausea & fatigue, the last few months of backache & front-ache, or the excruciating labor pains. That stuff is the easy part; I’m talking about what happens next. Motherhood isn’t for those who can’t come second. It’s not pretty. It’s not clean. It’s not prestigious. It doesn’t pay in cashy-money.
Some people think it’s downright degrading to be beholden to anyone other than yourself, especially to children. Those people, you can ignore. It’s when you start to doubt yourself that things get dark; when you start wondering if you married the right person or if you made the right choice in having children. When you realize that you are smart, and strong, and capable. And then you wonder if maybe these qualities are wasted on just your family.
I’d like to remind you that your family wouldn’t be where it is without you using your intelligence, your strength, and your capabilities to build them up.
Sometimes I’ve felt used up by my family; always being who and what they need, with no one recognizing that I need them to be there for me as well. That’s the crappy part of motherhood. That’s the part that the well-meaning “mainstream society” doesn’t want any woman to suffer from. That’s part of what makes mothers so strong.
Years ago I read a book, Seasons of Life (by Father Cedric), that relieved a major stressor that I was struggling with at the time. I had been feeling as if I wasn’t successful at life; no career, or anything that society measures success in for that matter. Seasons of Life changed my mindset from worrying about what I wasn’t accomplishing, to focusing on what I was doing, and doing it with all my heart. After all, it helps to know that the diaper phase won’t last forever. That the potty training phase won’t last forever. I’d been wiping butts for so long, I had lost track of (perhaps even interest in) what the next season in my life might bring.
My parents saw my next season coming before I did; they encouraged me to finish earning my college degree. It was after I started back to school that I began realizing how long I had been putting myself off; not just my education, but my health, my body, my relationship with my husband, and my spirituality. Not all at once, of course, but bit by bit – under the guise of always trying to give more. I had put myself off, always with the reasoning that I was in the season of giving to my family.
One day I was 29, and the next year I was 40.
That’s not to say I was unhappy with my life; I was just in a bit of a fog. As I look back, I realize that I am mentally stronger now than I ever had been (or even would be) without children. Having kids has taught me patience, how to forgive, how to love, and exactly how many seconds I have to get a toddler to the bathroom from the moment he or she announces the need to go potty. Okay, so I cry more often and I’m a lot more touchy-feely, but that too takes a certain kind of strength; to feel deeply for others, even when you don’t believe you have another drop left in yourself.
We all have our stories of struggling with the motherhood vocation; stories that are as varied, unique, and as beautiful as we are. Our stories may be different, but I think we can all agree that being a mother requires us to meet challenge after challenge with love in our hearts. And that is hard.
Motherhood is a grueling process of learning about what is best for your child, sacrificing yourself for the well-being of someone you love more than life itself, and being the glue that holds everything together. I hope that you can be the person you want your children to look back and remember. I hope that not only do you not forget yourself, but you do a little something to better yourself each day. I hope you don’t stop growing as a person because you started raising little people. I pray that you don’t let the days flow passively by; that you take an active part in the season of life that you’re in.
Motherhood is hard, but you can be strong enough to own it.