May 12, 2013

Day 12- A Happy Mother's Day.

I awoke this morning at 6 am.  Morning sun brightened my room and I could see "purple mountains majesty" outside my window.  On either side of my room there are mothers with newborn babies that cried through the night.  What a beautiful, healthy sound.

Within moments the nurses arrive to check my blood pressure, pulse, temperature, listen for fetal tones, draw blood for a cross-type and match, and flush my central line.  I peed in a cup and stood on a scale that they wheeled in for me.  This is my routine now.  I am grateful for the care I'm receiving.
I'm here in the hospital-- because I am a mother.

I catch a glimpse of my pajama clad belly in the window reflection.  This little fella is sure growing!
For a moment, on this day, I feel so grateful for my protruding belly.
This is the last time I will have a baby inside of me- forever.  Only 25 days until they remove my last baby and my uterus.  How I love the opportunity that I have had to create life.  What a gift.  I will cherish these last moments.

Mother's Day is one of my favorite days ever.
Not because I am cherished and celebrated by darling kids and a kind husband (although I am).
Mother's day is my favorite because I LOVE being a mother!

I don't think Mother's Day is a day we celebrate perfection.
Mothers do not need to always behave perfectly, have a perfect home, marriage, pantry or even one perfect child.
Mother's day is not a day where we celebrate a life free of trials, pain, mistakes or suffering.
Mother's day is a celebration of creation, growth, love and potential.
I hope that as we have learned to love our children, we have also learned that we are also loved and cherished in our own youth and imperfection.

If there is one skill we develop quickly as mothers, it is our ability to love messy, naughty, silly, difficult, completely adorable children.  We learn to love past the snotty noses and sticky fingers.
We learn to SEE who are children are, or more importantly who they can become.
We hear brilliance as they learn their letters or struggle through their first reading of Green Eggs and Ham.  We see Monet in crayon drawings and hear Bach potential in the first plucking out of Mary Had a Little Lamb.  We see Mother Theresa in the kind rocking of a baby doll, and Einstein in the child who pulls the chair over to unlock the deadbolt on the front door.
Mothers know how to celebrate every milestone.
Oh, the joy that comes as we hear our baby's initial, gasping, breath-taking, wail of life.  We celebrate burps, first steps, long naps, poops on the potty, when they pop back up after falling down.  We beam with pride when they share their toys and teach gently when they hit our friend's little boy over the head with the block.  We spend hours slowly rinsing suds from their hair, wiping sore bottoms, soothing running noses.  We worry about flat head and pacifier teeth, food allergies, and diaper rashes.
As our children grow, our worries grow.
We worry about spelling tests and multiplication facts.  We memorize 50 Nifty United States and capitals, again.  We plan trips to explore our world.  We teach about civil rights and politics and poverty and show our children life beyond our home.  We navigate curfews and TV time limits.  We pretend we know the perfect age to introduce things like cell phones and high-heel shoes and deodorant and when they can shave their legs.  We teach them to dance and date and drive and send them off to navigate more and more of their world without us nearby.  We explain the birds and the bees and feel like it was just yesterday that we were learning these things for ourselves.  Mothers are really just little girls playing mommy.
Moms try to be as good as our parents were in the things they did well and better in the things they didn't.  Somewhere between giving birth to our second child, or celebrating our oldest child's entrance into double digits, we learn to accept our imperfection and learn to love our own parents more.  As our children grow we stop praying to be perfect parents and start praying that they will survive in spite of us.  We pray that they will remember the good and forget those less-than moments.
I'm only 14 years into being a mother-- but I'm beginning to realize something more and more.

I do think children need love and direction in their early years.  It is important, so very important.  But, I don't believe we were meant to "be good mothers" right from the starting gate.  God knew that we would need years to become patient and kind and selfless.  We would need to learn mothering skills.  Being a good mother is something that takes hours and hours of training.  And, that is why our children start out young and resilient.
We do not need to BE great parents, we just need to LEARN along the way.
 I really, really believe that the kind of mother you are to your children AFTER they leave your home will tint their image of you from the beginning.
Being able to love and serve and maintain a good relationship with your older children will determine how they remember you and how they interpret their years in your care.  If, during all your mothering, experimental, learning years, you finally figure out how to keep a tidy, organized home-- that is what they will see when they visit and that is what they will remember.

The magic of motherhood is that really, as you raise them, they are raising you.  So that by the time thy really, really need you to be patient and kind and wise and supportive, that is exactly what you have become.  Years and years of practice will make you the wise grandmother that you need to be-- right at the time that your children are entering their own training as young parents.  By the time your oldest child calls you crying because your grandchild is throwing tantrums, you will be able to smile and encourage and support and give the perspective that you wish you would have had when you were in their shoes.

Today, I am a patient, laid back mother.  I did not start out that way, but this is the mother that my children will remember.

When my older girls wish that I'd paint their nails more, or when one of my children asks to talk to a therapist because they want someone who will listen to them.  I just determine to paint more nails and schedule some one-on-one time for therapy sessions.  I don't need to beat myself up for what I wasn't yesterday, just need to focus on what I'm doing today.  In a few days time, my kids will say things like, "We always do nails together, don't we mom?" or "Thanks for always being the best listener."  You see-- kids are like that.  They have a gift of being happy NOW and seeing the world through today eyes.

And this, my friends, is the saving grace of motherhood.

There is no end to mothering.
We always have today to become more loving, to serve more, to show our children who they are and who they can become.  We can always start today loving them young and imperfect and trusting life to teach and mold them.  We are mothers.  We are blessed with vision and love.  Our children our part of our very soul and we are part of them eternally.  I have said before-- there are no finish lines so we cannot fail or succeed. We can only continue being a little bit better today that we were yesterday.  Becoming a mother is an eternal journey.

Today I wrote letters to each of my children thanking them for making me a mother.
I have learned so much from each of them and feel so lucky to be their mom.
How I love and cherish each unique soul that I have come to know and love.
Being a mother is a great work, the greatest work.  It is the best, soul-shaping exercise.
Parenting together cements two, young, inexperienced friends into ONE wise, united couple.
There is no greater joy... and today I am so grateful.

Happy Mother's Day friends!!
(My family will visit in just a few hours... I'm so excited to see them and touch them and feel the joy that they bring into my life.)
These are the days... oh how we need to enjoy them!!


Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Oh great, just when I think I've made it through the day not crying once, you have to go an ruin it with this post. :) Beautiful truth and insights. And I love all the pictures you shared. Your family is truly blessed to have you as their mother!

Shauna Thompson said...

LOVED your post and thoughts on motherhood! So much wisdom in what you wrote. I too LOVE being a mom!

BTW, email me your address when you get a chance, I have a little something I want to send you. :)

Birrd said...

This is so wise and beautifully written. Thank you for writing this, and I love all the pictures. Especially the silly ones. What a marvelous mother your children have!

Natasha said...

This was the best Mother's Day message that I've read this year. Beautiful. I especially liked, " I have said before-- there are no finish lines so we cannot fail or succeed. We can only continue being a little bit better today than we were yesterday. Becoming a mother is an eternal journey." This reminds me of a quote by President Hinckley, "You have not failed until you quit trying." I hadn't ever really applied that to motherhood fully. Thanks!

Seth Merrill said...

so, so lovely Jen. I feel your goodness and love just flowing with those words and pictures and expressions! Thank you for that sweet, beautiful post. Oh that the world could see this! Take care: remember that pregnancy is the one time when a woman can lie absolutely still and yet be beautifully productive! Love you!

Christine suldinger said...

Thanks for this Jenifer....trough your blog I am slowly learning to not focus on the things that I fail at at times when it comes to motherhood... To learn to love with Gods be the mother He meant me to are suh an inspiration and I pray that you will get to hold many many grandchildren...

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