I used to think the hardest part of being a Mom would be labor and delivery. Now, don't get me wrong, that part was definitely not easy, but I was given drugs and lots of support during that time. I had people from every direction telling me what to do. And the 1 time the drugs didn't work, I was able to scream and holler and give ugly looks and not feel one ounce of guilt about it. And of course, the end result was always worth it.
Almost 9 years and 3 kids later I've experienced many moments in motherhood that have left me asking, "Can I get some more drugs now???? Where are all of those people to tell me what to do? Why aren't people bringing me hot fudge cake sundaes and cute presents anymore?" The thing that I've noticed is that a lot is made of having babies, but not so much raising them. We read countless books about when our babies will start teething and how to take their temp, and those kinds of things are pretty general and pretty much the same for all babies. Then, they become toddlers and pre-schoolers and real kids. They develop their own personalities. They have their own way of thinking, their own way of doing things and their own hearts that are shaped and molded and broken and filled in totally different ways. They pitch fits at the most inopportune moments. They meltdown over having to wear clothes. People at school say mean things to them and you find yourself wanting to punch out a 2nd grader. They learn to fake being sick and as if it isn't hard enough to know how to take care of them when they are sick, now you have to figure out if they really are sick. Is it possible to get real stomach aches every.single.Monday.morning?
You find yourself constantly questioning every decision you make, agonizing over everything you wish you hadn't said, and trying to figure out if you should save up for college or therapy for your kids. To top it off you constantly compare yourself to other moms and wish you were as patient, loving, fun, creative, tender, or fill in the blank with whatever other quality you think of.
Then, Mother's Day comes and you have visions of beautiful, sweet moments with your children. But the thing is, despite the tear jerker cards and special hand-picked gifts, the kids don't seem to understand that this would be a good day to not fight during the entire 45 minute trip to see the grandmas. That for one day you would like to eat your meal without a trip to the bathroom midway. That you would enjoy having conversations with other adults without them flying in your face with glowsticks or elbowing you in the eye. Of course these feelings take you back to the guilt of not being patient and loving enough. And on Mother's Day of all days! The dreams of perfect mothering are shattered.
And then the realization hits that the exhaustion, the frustrations, the fact that you end Mother's Day spanking your 3 year old because it is 2 and a half hours past her bedtime and she has gotten up 83 times, those are the things that make you a Mama. The truth is that the fun people are the grandparents and the aunts and uncles and family friends. They do the spoiling. They get to send them home and sleep at night. Being a Mama is a lot more than those shows from the 50's and those paintings of mothers gazing lovingly at their children portray. Being a Mama means getting dirty. It means being there when kids have owies and upset stomachs. It means loving them enough to discipline them, even though it really does hurt you more than it hurts them. It means you may go 18 years without completing a sentence or a thought. It means you will be riddled with insecurity as they tell you how "so and so's Mama" does things. It means you have a real kind of love for them, the kind of love that gets frustrated and angry and chooses to love anyway. The kind of love that at times you see the things you wish you could change in yourself pop up in your children and you want to be better so they can be better.
If perfection is what you are looking for, motherhood is probably not for you. If you are looking for a spotless house and smiling children dressed to the nines playing peacefully and eating their veggies, I recommend posing for a magazine cover. But, if you are looking for the experience of a lifetime that will teach you more about yourself and challenge you in ways you didn't know were possible, I recommend motherhood. If you are okay with dirty handprints on the wall as long as those chubby little hands hold onto yours, I recommend motherhood. If you can handle sassy mouthed children as long as those same mouths say, "You are the best Mom and Dad ever", motherhood is for you. If you think influencing and shaping children into the people God would have them to be is important, I recommend motherhood.
It won't alway look pretty. It won't always feel good. You will have doubts, fears and questions. But it's because you care. And that's what makes you a Mama.