Friday, May 06, 2011

What I've learned from motherhood

{You may have already read this post. It was featured here last week. But for the day I stop blogging and compile everything I've written in this space, I wanted to make sure it was here in black and white on my own blog as well. Plus it is about motherhood, and what I've learned. No better time than this weekend to post it, right?}

Happy Friday!! 

I realized last night, while thinking about this post, that next month, when my oldest child turns 9 (that pretty little thing above) two major milestones will be reached. First, I will be technically half-finished with raising her (gasp). My time left before she is an adult will be equal to the time I've already had with her. That is a scary thought. And secondly, a couple months after that, around the time she was conceived, I will have been a mother for a decade. Those words string into black and white with a shock, for me.

My instant thought is that I should be further along as a mom! What do I know? What have I learned? And oh God, what have I permanently screwed up?

But I came up with something I think is pretty huge. Huge, because I'm still learning it, still needing to keep it huge in my head. If I've learned anything over the last near decade, one thing I know for certain, that is necessary, even, for "making it" as a mother is that you have to get very, very comfortable with the only direction in which a child ever grows: up and away.

They grow up and away. They need me less and less, as I teach them to be independent, healthy people. And isn't that exactly what I want? Of course! Still, each step stings.

On this day, my little guy had completed all these puzzles by himself.

 This is where my perspective comes in, the only thing over which I have control. Because I don't have control over the growing. My kids keep growing, like crazy, in fact. But I can manage my perspective. Instead of sighing with heartbreak at every milestone left behind, I can cheer inside for each new development. This was a bit easier when they were little bitty. It's easy to cheer for first steps, first teeth, and first friends....all steps, mind you, that require less of mama. But it's been harder for me to cheer at different steps of growth, such as a five-year old big boy hand pulling away from mine when I go to hold it out of habit. It's hard for me to let my kids resolve friendship issues without just speaking to the other mom. It's so, so hard to watch innocence erode, the rules being tested and shoved by their wills to be separate from me and try out the wild world. (If you have a "darter" for a toddler, you know what I mean.) 

When my daughter was two, it was endearing the way she'd squeak, "I do it my big self!" with such passion and resolution. But a slow blink later, and those words become, "No thanks, mom, I don't need any help." Over and over. And I have a choice: to wallow in self pity that I'm slowly losing them, or be completely satisfied that I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing!

Here's the bottom line that I need to remind myself every time I'm tempted to feel heartbroken at watching my babies slip away. It is not my job to raise children. It is my job to raise adults. Competent, compassionate, character-filled adults who can hold their own in this broken world. Oh, how I desire to succeed at this!  

So I've let go of a lot of ways I myself was trying to grasp at time. For one, I've stopped feverishly compiling photo albums and memory boxes and all the record keeping I was trying to do! I still do a little. I keep precious mementos and favorite art projects. But in those early years, it was so overwhelming, and I felt so much pressure to RECORD every breath they took. Now, I'm asking myself 'Why?' All those things can be well and good, don't get me wrong. If you're an amazing scrapbooker, go to town. But for ME, I was doing those kinds of things with a desperation, a desire to stop or control that which can't be stopped.

I love this old picture. So much baby and so much big boy rolled into one. He is about to turn six next month. He didn't want to hold my hand today.

I can't capture that smell of a baby's breath, or the feeling of a little one asleep on my chest for two hours. Yes, I enjoyed it while it lasted. But I certainly don't want to pine away for the past and miss what amazing people my children are becoming! Wow, they are miracles blooming before my very eyes, and I am so blessed to be their mom. 

But to experience all the blessings, I have to stop holding on in sadness to that which is lost. I absolutely have to get comfortable with them needing me less and less. I have to remember it is truly what I want.

I can't remember the last time I brushed my daughter's teeth, or the last time she put on some plastic princess heels. But just the other day, when she was slighted at school by a friend, she told me she didn't feel too sad because she knew God was her friend. My heart practically stopped. The truth is, if I'm doing something right, my kids will need me less and less, and learn to lean on their Heavenly Father more and more. That is what we're doing here. It all comes down to Him.
It is not about me.

That, my friends, is what I've learned from motherhood.   


  1. The time just flies by so enjoy every moment with the kids. I was lamenting this very thought this week too. Motherhood, the great life force :)

  2. i did read this post already. loved reading it again. and mostly, i LOOOOOVE the new look! happy mother's day friend :)

  3. This post is so precious and beautiful. I have been thinking some of these same thoughts lately! My little one has a tiny cold right now, and I almost love how much he needs me right now. I know in a few years, he won't. I love what you said, it is our job to raise wonderful adults. So true.

    Happy Mother's Day.

    ps. I thought of you today. I've visited here a couple of times. I am reading, The Hole In Our Gospel. Reminds me of a couple of comments you have left me regarding feeding the hungry. I just started the book, but am moved beyond words. Just wanted to share that with you, and for some reason, God put you in my heart today. Hope that doesn't sound weird, since I barely know you! :))

  4. i loved this.
    thank you for writing it.