January 29, 2016
I'm sure you know the familiar scene: Chaos is surrounding you. The two-year-old's drawings were just discovered on the living room wall, the baby is clinging to your yoga pants with the most pitiful teary-eyed face ever, and the five-year-old is whining about not wanting to clean up his mess. And you? You just want to sit down for five minutes and drink your coffee to jog your sleep-deprived brain so you can deal with the challenges unfolding — or maybe just be able to go pee without an audience. Is that so much to ask? This is the life of a mom. It is overwhelming at times. It is demanding, intense, and it honestly can be miserable in some moments. Plus, let's not forget those mundane daily tasks of feeding our little army five hundred times a day (at least it feels that way), the mountain of laundry that multiplies on its own accord, and the dishes that also breed by the second.
We signed up for this? Why is motherhood so hard? Isn't this what we wanted in life, what we dreamed of doing?
Then why are we miserable?
The truth is whether you chose motherhood or motherhood chose you, surely you remember there once was joy in it. Do you remember the moment you found out you were pregnant? Weren't you excited at the thought of experiencing the firsts and watching them grow? Okay, maybe you were like me and were terrified so the joy came later. But it came, didn't it? Your heart softened to the new addition and hope renewed that all would be okay. Things do have a way of working out, after all. I remember finding out I was going to be a mom — a mom where I could claim the title for myself — after placing my first in an open adoption. I knew people were going to judge me, I knew my family wouldn't be happy when I told them, and I knew that my husband and I were going to have challenges starting a family at just nineteen years old — but regardless there was joy.
Why is it so hard to capture that feeling of blossoming motherhood into the reality of today, months and years down the road? Is it our perspective that we perhaps need to change? I think the answer is yes.
If we let the mundane tasks and the chaos of parenting take root in our heart, it'll drag us down into the dirty dish water and drown us. We can't let that happen — for our children or for ourselves. Trust me, I've almost let the negativity take me down and it took some work to swim above to catch some air.
Sure the spilled sticky juice on the kitchen floor is a nuisance and the moments of constant requirements can be an emotional test, but it doesn't have to break us. Let it be what it is... simply a mess that can be cleaned and a lesson learned.
What if we start by taking a minute right now to remember why we wanted to be a mom in the first place? Remember the joy we felt when we saw those first two pink lines or our first gaze of the life we brought into the world? Let those warm fuzzies take over and remember why we wanted this momma gig. Just like we sometimes need to take a moment to remember why we married the person we did when they start to drive us crazy, reignite that passion for those you love around you.
I challenge you to try it: Instead of focusing on the struggles we face daily because of our little beings, focus on the joy they bring you. Little or big moments, I promise they are there. Write them down. The adorable way your two-year-old pronounces things with a “w” sound, the way your nine-year-old is eager to read a book to her siblings, the way your five-year-old rushes to give you a hug first thing every morning. Take a deep breath and let those glimpses of joy be the floating device that keeps your head above water.
On the same line of thought, what if we saw our children for what they are — gifts. I've found as a mom of four that this change of perspective eases the trials and lowers my frustration level. I've found that owning my role as mom gives me a renewed purpose and a job far more precious than the highest paid job could ever be. No, I'm not perfect. I still yell. I still get overwhelmed, especially when eight o'clock rolls around and I just want to sit in the quiet! But, a quick check of my heart helps re-adjust my focus. The gift of reading a book to my children as they take turns on my lap every other night or hearing them share their hearts during prayers reminds me that amongst the tangle of my desires verses theirs that this momma gig is worth it — it really is.
After all, the most fulfilling things in life aren't always going to be easy.