Whoever said motherhood was easy? No one. That’s the truth – being a mom isn’t a piece of cake. It’s difficult regardless if you’re a brand new mom or a mother of five. It’s difficult whether or not the child is a newborn or is ready to get her license. Being a mom takes a lot of energy and although motherhood is a beautiful thing, it can be overwhelming.
I had my eldest child, Leila, the year after I got married. I was 19 and had no idea what it took to be a mom. Luckily, my husband was a seasoned pro from raising his younger cousins. Leila was the apple of our eye. She slept through the night and hardly cried and woke up smiling every morning. I thought I won the jackpot at motherhood. She turned out to be the ideal baby I had in mind.
Liam, our second, was the total opposite. He needed to be held and would cling to my shirt every time I held him. He’s four now and still holds onto my legs most mornings when I drop him off at school. He requires kisses, hugs, and still needs to fall asleep next to me when it’s bedtime.
Levi is my newborn who is now 10 weeks old. He cries the most and is the loudest. If we thought Liam was needy, boy, we were wrong! Levi needs constant touch, wakes up multiple times throughout the night and will cling to my shirt as if I’m going to abandon him. I’m sure it’s not going to get any easier as Levi grows up.
I thought that by now I’d know how to raise my third child without a how-to guide. Yet, I found myself asking my sister (who just had her first baby last year versus me being a mom of nearly eight years) how many newborn sized diapers and onesies I should have in preparation for my third. I was clueless. Wasn’t I supposed to know these things?
Being a mom of nearly eight years, I found myself still struggling with how to raise my children. Levi wouldn’t sleep throughout the night and I felt miserable that I didn’t train him earlier. Leila was behind on reading and the stress I gave myself over not knowing how to help her nearly turned me into The Incredible Hulk. Liam was still crawling into our bed at 3am in the morning and I was upset that I ever allowed him to do it in the first place three years ago.
Breastfeeding was tiring and harder this time around even though Levi was great at latching. I bluntly and ashamedly told Levi’s primary care provider that I stopped breastfeeding. This stunned me. Since when did I question my own parenting? Just because he was my third child didn’t mean that I found it easy.
Even though my daughter is almost eight and I’m now a mother of three, being a mom still isn’t easy. I’ve had blissful days where I’m thinking ‘How did I get blessed with good children?’ and days where I’m crying from the stress. I like to be organized and keep clutter at bay so having clothing hangers on the bed or toys strewn all over the bedroom floor is enough to make me panic. Each day brings its own challenges and I never seem ready to tackle all of them.
There are still moments when I question myself as a mother. Am I bad for not breastfeeding longer? Is my son’s temper-tantrum because I haven’t raised him well enough? Am I neglecting them by going to school and working a full-time job?
Then there’s the mommy guilt – it’s real, folks. I remember feeling so guilty about going out of state with my husband to enjoy a quick vacation without our daughter (our only child then). I laid on the second-row seat of our rented vehicle and just couldn’t enjoy myself. Even now, I can’t stand going on a 2-hour date night to the movies without feeling immense guilt. The feeling of having to choose between myself or my kids is awful.
I hope my children can forgive me for my shortcomings as their mother. But first, I’ve got to give myself a break and pat myself on the back. I think I’ve done pretty darn good at being a mom. There’s no assessment you can take to determine if you’re a good enough parent. Yes, I can improve (perhaps be more patient) but I am doing fine as a mom.
I look at my children and feel blessed that I get to be their mom. They’re thoughtful, well-behaved (most of the time), and have unique personalities. They forgive me when I tell them sorry. They remind me to consider the love of Christ when I’m upset at their father.
It’s always “mommy” they want whenever one of them is hurt, sad, or tired. They want mommy to place the bandage on their owie, to kiss them good night, to read to them and to tell them that it’s okay. They even enjoy mommy as their cook even when the food is less than appetizing.
The love I have for them is immeasurable and I know they equally love me as their mom.
Sometimes I wonder what life would have been if I wasn’t a mom – yearly vacations, no daycare expense, no school tuition and a good 8 hours of blissful sleep. Then I remember how much more fulfilling my life has become since I became a mom. I love the little hands that hug me before bedtime, the sweet kisses on the cheeks, and the never-ending I love you’s.
Motherhood probably won’t stop being difficult no matter how experienced we are (I’m dreading prom day). However, it can be a beautiful journey as long we don’t give up on ourselves.
If you want to read more on this topic, here’s a link to an honest blog post by Katherine Wintsch titled “Are You A Good Mother?”