I don’t have to tell you this: motherhood is h a r d work.
What makes it hard? Is it all of the responsibilities and sticky little hands? Or is it because it demands our full attention? It’s potty training, right?
Mamas, I think it’s all of those things and lots more. We each have our own stories about exactly why being a mom is hard.
As my son has grown, I’ve reflected about why his younger years were so difficult for me. Yes, it’s all the external pressures of mom-ing: making sure your kid doesn’t run into the road or choke on a hot dog, getting them to school, teaching them to tie their shoes, making sure they use manners, and myriad other tasks and teachable moments. It’s exhausting!
But several of the things that are the hardest for me about being a mom come from inside of me. I have discovered several attitudes that sometimes take root and can make mom-ing feel impossible. These are the enemies of motherhood that I push through on a rotating basis.
One of my favorite quotes is “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
And it’s true. When we start getting wrapped up in what others are doing, we miss the great stuff that is right in front of our faces. In my early motherhood days, I remember wistfully noticing other more well-behaved toddlers than my own. I wished my son could be more like those kids.
And don’t get me started on all of the easy babies who sleep so much. I was a hot mess for a while after my son was born and didn’t sleep a full night until he was past age five. Why wasn’t my son an easier baby? Comparing him to other children really made living with his quirks hard on me. And I did it all to myself by comparing.
We don’t always understand why, but we can know that we’re meant to be in this moment right now. It’s not an accident. My son was the way he was because that’s how he was. Looking back, surviving through the long, tired years made me a stronger person and gave my son and me a deep and enduring bond. I’d never change that (even to get back the hundreds of hours of sleep I missed).
I’m a gal who takes a ridiculous amount of pride in doing things on her own and for herself. I approached parenthood in the same way. I told myself that I’m the mom, and I know what is best 100% of the time. Always. My way or the highway.
And raising kids shouldn’t work like that.
Over the years, I’ve experienced the beauty of letting go of the hold I kept on my son. He has a dad who loves him, an amazing stepmom and stepdad who pick him every day to love, and tons of other friends and family who help oversee his well-being. And thank goodness for all of these folks! Turns out that I need them, and so does my son.
Mothering our children is not an individual effort, but a team event. Being so fierce in my independence hurt both my son and me in our early years together. As cliché as it is, it really does take a village.
We don’t know what we don’t know. One of the “enemies” I constantly battle is ignorance. I am constantly looking for new or different ways to be the best mom I can be. I do this by reading books, searching blogs, talking to other parents, and seeking wisdom from parents who have been through the stage my son and I are currently experiencing.
Motherhood is the absolute best job I’ve ever had in my whole life. But, it throws me curveballs, and I want to keep up with my on-the-job training! I must always keep learning.
As moms, we get the pure bliss of experiencing many “firsts” with our children. We’re on deck to see the first smile, first step, first day of school, first recital, first band concert, first heartbreak, and many others. These are some pretty amazing moments!
But as parents, we also get the mundane joy of living life alongside our kids. In those daily moments, there is still magic.
I am sad to say that I have and sometimes continue to miss the daily magic because I am too distracted to really be in the moment with my son. I may be doing something that feels so important (or playing on my phone), but I miss the moment to listen, the opportunity to smile, the occasion to breathe, or the joy to laugh alongside my son. I’m sure that I’ve missed more times than I even realize.
Being in the moment is possible with practice. Right now, I feel super out of practice being mindful, but awareness is the first step to changing.
I’m glad that tomorrow I can try again to turn these enemies away from the gates of my motherhood journey. Each day is a new opportunity to focus on my own son, embrace the village, learn something new, and be in the moment. Thank goodness!