My post today is deviating a bit from the norm. This post is more for the moms out there navigating the tough waters that is motherhood than really anyone else. It’s meant to be honest. It’s meant to encourage. I’m not quite sure how I painted parenthood to be a Hollywood stroll through the park. My guess is it occurred in the long span of time it took to enter into parenthood in the first place. After 4 long years of infertility and a devastating miscarriage our friends all around us were welcoming kiddos left and right while we came face-to-face with shattered dreams. That large empty dining room table I once imagined filled with messy grins was a constant and painful reminder of hopes unrealized. I imagined vacations and bedtime stories, nights rocking and cuddling a wee-one to sleep, and yes, strolls through a park. I could hear the laughter ringing in my ears that was painfully silent. I could see pieces of myself and my husband smiling back at us and I could almost feel the tiny touch of a warm hand on my face. I SO desperately wanted to be a mom.
And then in 2012 I amazingly was, in the span of a 5 month waiting period through adoption. Most mothers have a period of 9 months, give or take a little, to settle in and envision them self as a parent. We had 5 months to prepare but I never could really “settle in” to the idea. I think in the back of my head I spent the entire 5 months up to my son’s birth fearing I would never get a chance to be his mom. One week shy of Thanksgiving I walked down a hospital corridor at 2:00 a.m. led by a gushing nurse assuring me he was the sweetest and most cuddly little guy ever. She was not wrong. It was love at first site. He was tiny, he was perfect, and he was chosen by God for us. Two weeks and a whirlwind trip across-states later we were home and reality sunk in for the first time: I was a mom! What now? That “what now” was answered by sleep deprivation as we had never known. I remember one particular unearthly time of the morning as my husband and I crossed each other in the hall-way to switch off taking care of our son. He just looked at me with this new awareness and remarked that everyone’s talk about getting your sleep before baby really was a huge deal because after baby, well, sleep just becomes a five letter non-existent word. When new parents talked of being so tired we just didn’t realize how tired they really were.
A year and a half later that “what now” is still being answered, not so much by sleep deprivation, but by an array of toddler antics mixed with the chaos and energy that is 100% all boy. Most days, if not all days, I feel as if I’m failing mother-hood. I’m learning that while it is filled with amazing moments I would not trade for anything in the world, it’s also full of “on-my-knee” moments as I cry, desperate for wisdom. There are cuddles yes, but there are tantrums too. There are bedtime stories but they are not so “un-messy” and “quiet” as I once imagined they would be. There are strolls through the park that at times can take forever and others not long enough dependent on how the mood of my little guy is doing. There is laughter in just as much abundance as tears and fussiness. There are warm touches and equally gooey, sticky, cold ones. There is the idealistic vision of being a mom that is quickly fading into the background of the reality of actually BEING mom. Being mom means being needed 24/7. Being mom means we go nowhere unencumbered. Being mom means that days where I actually have make-up on and am together by noon are MIRACLE days. Being mom means at times I am utterly spent and tired. In those tired moments being a mom means coming face-to-face with the reality that I am a long-shot away from being a Pinterest worthy or perfect mom. In the hustle and bustle of life in constant chaotic motion I realize just how imperfect I really am. And then I feel so guilty. I wonder if I am worthy to be a mom. I wonder how I was even picked to be a mom in the first place. I wonder what those amazing individuals who entrusted us with our precious son would think if they saw that my house was not pristine. As I type my bathroom is overflowing with laundry and my kitchen, well, we’ll leave that to the imagination. I wonder also what they would think if they knew I had served chicken nuggets for lunch for the third day straight because it’s all my little man will agree to eat. I feel guilt because I feel the weight of the entrusted gift’s responsibility. Perhaps in some ways I’m still settling in to the fact that I am a mom. I am 100% my son’s mom. And that is no mistake of God’s choosing. I don’t have it all together. I don’t have all the answers. I have melt-downs right alongside my toddler. But I also have God and I am realizing as well a community of moms who are swimming in the same boat of mother-hood as I am. It’s easy to think that other people are more “put-together” than myself. I have recently been extremely grateful for a new bible study offered by Proverbs 31 Ministries that I have recently jumped into entitled, “Am I Messing Up My Kids” by Lysa TerKeurst. It’s a community of moms admitting to their imperfections. It’s a place of vulnerability and honesty and for me currently, refreshment. It’s a study that’s teaching and reminding me yet again that it’s OK to not be so OK. That even in my imperfection I am not messing up my son but being molded more into the mom God wants me to be. I’m learning how to take those mistakes and use them as opportunities to point not only myself but my family back to God. I am learning to be a mom that makes “right choices that honor God.” I’m learning that even when I have a “worst mom day ever” kind of day, there is grace and there is forgiveness. Some of the scripture we have been focusing on this week has been like a refreshingly cool mountain stream of encouragement.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who REDEEMS your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.” ~ Psalm 103:1-5
My table is now filled with quite a messy little corner and sweet goofy grin. I’m learning to be thankful for the presence of messes because in them there is the presence of blessing. Namely, my son. There is the reality of being mom. The hope of being changed. The anticipation of being renewed. In the mix of tough mom days and disappointments there is strength for the moment. There is, quite simply – God. And that my dear friends is more than enough.