Let's be honest here, motherhood is one of the toughest challenges I have ever taken on.
I am not lovey-dovey. I am not a giver of soft and squishy hugs. I don't delight in tickles or playing dolls. Though I do I love my girls and try my hardest to show it. Usually it is expressed in the form of food; we enjoy a treat, or spend some time baking together. Often times it is spent on the couch reading books. Other times it is shown through an outing; a trip to the park, or an afternoon at Lagoon.
Being a mother is no walk in the park. Somedays I hit a home run and feel like I am on top of the world, bursting with joy and happiness! A good many days I feel like I've been gifted a walk on base and coast through the day, nothing extra special about it other than the fact that we survived it. And then there are those days that I feel like I have completely struck out, sometimes swinging my heart out with no chance of connecting that day, heading dejectedly back to the dug out awaiting my chance to redeem myself.
Many days I feel like I'm not cut out for this motherhood gig. I know as part of being a woman it is what I was created for. But I certainly don't always feel that I, personally, was intended for motherhood- or at least not for it to wear naturally on me. Motherhood is my challenge and struggle.
As a teenager I hated babysitting. I never wanted to hold someone else's baby. I still am perfectly happy looking and smiling, but not touching or interacting. I didn't grow up dreaming of being a mother. Of course I thought about it, and always had a list of names I liked in the back of my mind. But never was motherhood my number one aspiration. I went to college to study and get a degree. And I did it. I found myself unable to pull myself away from Kyle, so marry him I did. (And I'm still so happy I did!) Then naturally, as time wore on it became time to start a family. So we did. And I worried before that first baby was born if I would be able to love her and care for her. What if those mothering instincts that I had yet to experience didn't surface? I do not have a naturally mothering soul.
Luckily when Hailey was born all was right in the world. Something hit me and I found myself capable of loving a baby, enjoying her company. Though I really had no idea what I was doing. I hadn't ever held a newborn before, and suddenly there I was with one in my arms, mine to care for and raise. Never had anyone relied so heavily upon me for everything. I remember thinking how odd, yet how fantastic it felt to have someone so desperately need me.
And now here I am, 5 1/2 years later, with a second little girl to care for and just two months away from welcoming a third little girl to our family. Some days I am overcome with joy for my chance to love them, and teach them, and grow up with them. Other days I am overcome with terror and worry about whether I am teaching them what they need to learn, or whether I am setting them up for future scarring and failure. They are so malleable right now, am I really using that to my advantage? Or when they hit those teenage years are they going to turn their backs on me, because I didn't prepare them well enough, or love them enough while they are young?
So often my patience wears thin, and I can see the hurt in Hailey's eyes. Sometimes she is hesitant to tell me something or ask for something, afraid of my reaction. I tend to be an uptight parent. I want the best for my children, yet it most often comes out in the form of the word "NO". Why can't I relax a little bit? Because I want to protect them and shield them. But now I see Hailey growing up and becoming so much more independent. It's hard not to do everything for her, and make all of her choices for her. It even comes down to small silly things, like giving her the opportunity to help me and allowing her to show her independence by filling up our water cups when we stop for pizza at Costco. She can do so much, if I would just let her.
I just can't let go... Me, the girl who avoided small children and babies at all costs. I have found myself struggling to give way, even just a little bit, to my babies. I guess that's natural. Maybe there is some sort of natural mommy-ness ingrained in me. Or maybe it is an overwhelming amount of love, that I haven't yet figured out how to properly express.
I struggle with receiving compliments about how I am doing as a mother. It's because I know I can do better. I know I should do better. But it's hard. And so important. Which leads me to worry and stress, because I know there are too many areas I am struggling in.
In the end though, I know this is where I belong. Off and on I have considered looking for work to supplement the income Kyle makes. I haven't ever acted upon it, because I can't drag myself away from my girls. One day, a month or two ago, after going through a bit of a rough patch financially, I sat on the couch, cuddled up with Hailey reading a book. Clear out of the blue I had the the strongest confirmation that I am right where I need to be. Right now I need to be home with my children. I need to be a mother. I need to be there for them. I am where I should be. I struggle. It's hard. But this is where I belong. Being a mother is where I belong.
Motherhood is me.
That is something I never thought I'd say. Though this may be true, it isn't all smiles and art projects at our house. In fact, a lot of the creating and bonding I've spent so much time doing in the past has been set aside. Life is a terribly hard balance of so many good and important things. And I've found myself stuck in the middle, unsure of how to manage it all, without overloading myself. But I guess we're doing ok, as long as my girls are clothed, fed, and loved, right?
I had no intention of writing a post reflecting on motherhood so close to Mother's Day, but I've had so many thoughts swirling around in my brain the past couple of months it was time to release them.
As a side note, do you know how hard it is to get a good picture with a self-timer? Sheesh. Especially if I have to pull my pregnant belly on and off of the bed repeatedly to see if we even captured anything worthwhile. Someday I need to invest in one of those remotes for the camera, then at least I could snap the picture right when I want it, instead of trying to quickly stage it.