"Motherhood changes you." It's the phrase most often heard by any mother to a new or expecting mother. Why? Because, simply, it is true. Becoming a mother is unlike any experience of your life. For me, I can remember almost feeling the physical shift of the earth all around me when I held my oldest, my daughter, for the first time. I knew with unequivocal certainty that nothing I knew before this point in life would ever come close to this feeling, to this raw unfiltered emotion now seated deep within my very soul.
Still, just because motherhood "changes" you, doesn't mean it comes with an instruction manual. The only thing harder than being a mom is learning how to be a mother. It is the hardest on the job training ever! After all, there's no trial or training period between labor and delivery and "Congratulations! Now, take your baby home and be a parent!" I realize that learning and growing as a parent is not something that ever stops, no matter how old your children get. I know I have learned and continue to learn through all my mothering moments in life. As I look back over the last 15 years of this wonderful journey and at life through the eyes of my children, I realize that the lessons I have learned are the ones that I value the most.
1. Perseverance: There are no "sick days" in parenting. There are no holidays. There is no 2 week vacation. Being a mother is 24 hours 7 days a week. It is 365 days each and every year. Parenting, especially in the early years requires a level of energy and stamina you didn't think was possible. When you are awake for 18-24 hours nursing a sick baby through the day and night; and then still manage to find the energy to care for other children or go to work, or make dinner or something else, knowing the night will once again be long and exhausting...that is perseverance. Parenting is knowing that no matter how tired you are, no matter how mentally or physically drained you may be, you will take care of your child. That's what we do as moms, as parents...we get up and we take care of our children. When it's us who becomes sick or ill, we still parent our children. We get them up, we feed them breakfast, we get them off to school, we still take them to soccer practice, we still bake the cookies for the PTA bake sale. Perhaps no other occupation in the world takes the choice out of your hands the way that parenting does. There is no day when you can just not be a parent.
2. Patience: Nothing teaches you or tests your patience like being a parent. Navigating your way through the early days and nights of newborn feedings, dirty diapers, laundry, and lack of sleep is the first lesson. Then moving on to the "terrible twos" and what I often referred to as the "tyrannical threes" is enough to make you really think you might not survive this parenting journey...at all!! As our children learn and grow and begin to forge their own path in this world to become "independently operating" people there is simultaneously a deep desire to let them go and to hold on to them. We want them to succeed; but we often get caught in a misplaced desire to see them succeed according to our definition, to our wants and ways and means. We want them to learn the way we did because it's what we know. It takes a great deal of patience to just let your child become the person they are meant to be and that they want to be. Learning to be a "grown up" is hard at times; and our children need us to be good teachers, they need us to be patient...to show them every day for a year how to tie their shoes. They need us to help them hold their knife and fork every night at dinner to learn how to cut it. They need us to go over vocabulary words and spelling words 10 times in an evening to prepare for a quiz.
3. Protectiveness: I'm not sure that this is a lesson necessarily; but I do know that I've never ever felt anything close to the raw animal like protectiveness I feel about my children. There is no doubt in any way at all in my mind that I would do whatever I had to keep my children safe. I know with every fiber of my being that I would not hesitate to hurt, maim or kill anyone that harmed them...period. Some might think that an exaggeration; but if you're a mother...you know what I mean!
4. Selflessness: There's a saying that when you're a mom and there's only one piece of pie left, you decide you're not in the mood for pie after all...even if it's your favorite...even if you've been thinking about that piece of pie all day long. As a mom, you give it without regret, without hesitation or second thought to the little face that looks at you and says, "please, Mommy?!" Being a mother doesn't mean you go without the things that make you happy in the name of some type of martyrdom, however. There is no prize for the mom who gives up the most. Motherhood teaches you to think beyond your own self, and beyond the bubble of your needs without even realizing that is what you are doing.
5. Love: This may be the obvious one; but really there is no greater lesson taught or learned throughout parenting than love. The type of love you learn to give and that you receive from your child goes beyond anything words can describe. This is love in its purest form for sure. It is the feeling that rises from deep within the bottom of your heart and soul and fills you with such satisfaction and reward that nothing else could even come close to comparing. I never thought a love like that was possible; and for me, that has been the greatest and most wonderful lesson of all.
Have a great day! Thank you for spending your time with me.