I’m just going to be real here. After all, that’s what I signed up to do – give you some real talk. So here goes.
Have you ever heard about the great blessing motherhood is, how we can be “sanctified through service” and you want to punch someone? I have. I mean, being knee-deep in poopy diapers was not exactly my dream job. Neither was finding out that my children preferred to use the wall to wipe their boogers on instead of a tissue? Or that my teenager would call me a naughty word and take a swing at me when I asked her to unload the dishwasher.
I mean, I wanted to be a mom from way before I was old enough to date, and I had done a lot of babysitting, so I thought I knew what I was getting into.
What’s that old saying? “When I had no children, I had six theories about how to be a good parent. Now that I have six children, I have no theories.” Yeah, that was me.
When my first was born and had colic, I cried right along with him almost every night. I had no idea how to deal with toddler tantrums or pretty much anything. I learned, but just when I thought I’d gotten it down, another child would come along with completely different needs and I’d start all over.
For a long time, hearing things like “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” put way too much pressure on me. I did and do feel deeply my inadequacies as a parent. At best, those statements came across as benevolent sexism and at worse, set up a standard of perfection I could never achieve.
And – again, let’s be real here – I was having a hard time finding God in the poopy diapers. Honestly, hearing things like this statement kind of made me want to gag. “No love in all the world can equal the love of a true mother….There was no sacrifice of self—of her own time, of her leisure or pleasure, or opportunities for rest—that was considered for a moment, when it was compared with her duty and her love to her children.”
I personally do not believe that God/Goddess in heaven expect us to erase ourselves in service to our children. I think that’s a recipe for dysfunction and codependency. When your identity is completely wrapped up in your children, you lose you. And I don’t believe God wants us to do that.
We are beautiful, unique and uniquely talented women in our own rights. We can and we should have our own hopes, dreams and goals. There will come a day, I promise, that the kids will be gone. Don’t wake up that day and realize you have no idea who YOU are.
Now – here’s something else I’ve learned looking back at the trenches of motherhood, something I could not see while I was in them. God really IS in the poopy diapers and boogery walls and mouthy teenagers.
I learned that the sacrifice required of moms (and dads, but this is a mom blog) is indeed sacred and can be sanctified to our good.
I learned to pray mightily for help, and I was strengthened. Sometimes I was granted an infusion of physical and emotional strength right away and sometimes it came slowly, but it always came. I can look back on my 34 years of being a parent (and I still have a couple of kids at home) and see how selfishness has been squeezed out of me, how patience has increased many times over from those early days, how my abilities to deal with melt-downs and all manner of come-aparts have grown.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.” It’s true. Even if you can’t see it or feel it right now, in the trenches, I hope you will trust one who has been there when I say that you are doing just fine. In fact, with each poopy diaper you change, you are in the service of God. And that is a fine place to be.