Awhile back, maybe even before I was pregnant now that I think about it, Ben and I were chatting with friends about motherhood. A dear friend shared that she wasn’t planning on having kids anytime soon, because all the mothers she knew complained so much about it. They’d convinced her it was an awful thing, a hard thing. I promised I’d share the good in motherhood, if I found it. Its been a few months coming, but here are a few excerpts from that overdue email (an email that I like to pretend was a letter penned on beautiful stationary):
If we were snuggled up on that couch in your darling living room this is what I’d tell you.
They were right. Motherhood is hard. I’m at work every minute of everyday and I expect myself to show up with smile and loving tone. When I don’t, even when I’m so utterly exhausted (I thought pregnancy taught me about being tired – I was wrong), I’m hard on myself. The gravity of the job weighs on me. The monotony weighs on me too. And all of this without a solid eight hours of sleep.
Yes, it is very hard, and I could get caught up in talking about the struggles for hours (and sometimes I have) –
but, my goodness, why would I? Why spend so much time talking about the work when there is SO MUCH JOY. There is so much joy. So much more than I could, in my small pre-mother heart, have imagined (not that my heart is bigger than anyone else’s, but it is certainly bigger than mine was a year ago). I have never loved myself more. I have never loved Ben more. I have never loved a tiny human more.
I have never loved my job more. I have never loved my body more. I have never been more grateful for my family and friends.
I have never smiled more. I have also never cried more. I have never been so excited, and maybe a bit nervous, about life ahead.
If my dream was to be comfortable, stagnant, and well-rested, I should have passed on motherhood. If I cared most about beautiful clothes, elaborate vacations, and weekends spent sleeping in, I should have picked something else.* But, I want to grow, stretch, and develop. I want to change, to learn, and to really become, and for that, motherhood is the best I’ve found. I am so very far from perfect, and some days, being a mom helps remind me of that, but to-date, I have never been more selfless, more serving, or more kind. I have never been more charitable, more Christlike, or more loving.
And you know, there is plenty of the self-improvement, growing and stretching business. But that aside, there is also just so much fun! When this baby giggles, my heart melts. When this baby pulls his blanket over his face and then starts going a bit crazy when he can’t get it off, I can’t help but laugh. And when I snuggle up to Ben and Lincoln reading books on a warm Sunday afternoon, I can’t imagine doing anything better.
My hair may not get done as many days now (but its healthier for it) and it does take me much longer to get through a thing of foundation. My criteria for getting dressed is usually “will I see people today?” and “do I care if I get spit-up on this top?” But, I also just put Lincoln down for a nap, and before that he was on my lap singing Disney songs and the two of us just laughed and laughed.
What I meant to say is that its fun. Its happy. Its meaningful. Its joyous. It is good for the heart, for the soul, and for the becoming. It makes me better. I think some people are mothers in the same way some people are foodies; they find pleasure in things other people just don’t. But for the people who aren’t foodies, you don’t say “food won’t do you any good.” I think mothering is like that. Mothering is good for the woman, if she want’s to be stronger, kinder, braver. It changes you, stretches you, grows you. And it is so good for you – at least it is for me.
*please note I said “care about most” because I still have a weakness for beautiful clothes, get giddy at the thought of traveling, and dream of sleeping in. They’re things I like, and still things I plan on having (to some degree), but they are not the end game, and I am realizing they are less and less important.
**All pictures from Sunday afternoon on our first mother’s day together (out of the womb). I meant to have a meaningful post up that evening, but Linc was dealing with the four month sleep regression (aka: I was back to waking up twice a night) and spending time with family in New Hampshire happened instead. I thought sharing this letter was a good alternative to a mothers day post.