It’s no secret, being a mom is tough. From late night feedings to late night curfews. From crying babies to mouthy teenagers. It’s no wonder we stress our way through this thing called motherhood. After all, God has given us these little balls of clay, and it’s our biggest responsibility to shape and mold them into spectacular adults. Now that’s a lot of pressure!
“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”
I have been “mom-ing” for over 24 years now. All I can say is that every time I think I have it figured out, my kids hit a new phase in their lives and everything I thought I knew gets tossed out the window. When we had Autumn, our first and only daughter, I thought I had this mom thing down without question. She was well behaved, sweet, and thought I was the sun, the moon, and the stars. Then along came Hunter. “Ok,” I thought, I’ve still got this. Sure, he was a bit rambunctious and didn’t sleep through the night until he was 5-years-old, but still, I could handle the two just fine. When Elijah came, I quickly realized I was, indeed outnumbered (and many times, outsmarted). My life became corralling and driving three screaming children from here to there and back again. As if we didn’t learn our lesson, along came Jack. And yes, we know what birth control is, haha. Anyway, along came Jack. At this point, having three older siblings, he was just along for the ride. All I could do was merely keep my head above water. Having a household of ages running the gamut from adult, teenager, preteen, toddler and infant, I am surprised I didn’t end up in a mental institution.
I’m kidding, but it was really hard. It was at this point when I came to the conclusion that I was not quite the expert mother I thought I was back when I only had two. That being said, perhaps I should have cut myself some slack when I came to this conclusion. I think I was into my third straight year of sleepless nights (keep in mind, this was my third year of sleepless nights with my fourth child so really by this point, I had been living for approximately 17 years without any form of quality sleep). This particular night, I found myself bawling my eyes out in Jack’s room while wiping poop off of the walls. Honestly, you don’t want to know the details but I’ll tell you this, scrubbing poop off your son’s walls at 3 am is quite a humbling experience. One that slaps you in the face with doubt about your ability to get through your job of being a mom and honestly, even about your ability to merely get through the night.
My point in telling you all of this is certainly not to plunge you into the depths of motherhood despair. Instead, I am here to bring you hope. We as mothers are so hard on ourselves. If you are like me, you’re constantly second-guessing yourself and your mothering wisdom (or lack thereof). Honestly, I spend more time looking in the mirror criticizing myself as a mother than praising myself. But ladies, it’s time we stop being so hard on ourselves. Sure, we have been given a huge responsibility, but God would not have shaped and molded each child uniquely just for us if He was not also going to give us the tools we need in order to raise them successfully. Sure it’s hard, and many times it gets messy, but you can do it! So far, none of my kids have grown up to be serial killers, and I’d say that’s a definite win! 😉
But in all seriousness, whether you have changed your ten thousandth diaper, or have caught vomit in your bare hands more times than you care to admit, you are doing a great job. Sure, most of the time it feels like a thankless job. I cannot tell you how many times I have had revolts over the healthy meals I spent hours preparing because my kids would rather have chicken nuggets. We as moms are pooped on, yelled at, taken for granted, and underappreciated. However, we are also one of the most important figures in our children’s lives. This is proven time and time again when we are the first person our children run to when they have a stomachache, a fight with a friend, or a broken heart.
“A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.”
We see glimpses of our diligent silent love when our children are kind to others, or polite to adults. I give myself a mental high five whenever one of my sons holds the door open for someone behind him. Yes, our job is not one of glory. It is one that gets little praise. But our job also teaches us the deepest form of love. That deep love that sits up through the night with a sick child, and goes to every sporting event no matter the time or distance. A love that gives and gives even when all you get is nastiness in return. A love that hopes and prays for the best in your children always no matter how old they are, or what path in life they choose. Look at who your children have helped you become…a self-sacrificing, deeply and fiercely loving woman. THIS is what we should be saying every time we look in the mirror.
To be a good father and mother requires that the parents defer many of their own needs and desires in favor of the needs of their children. As a consequence of this sacrifice, conscientious parents develop a nobility of character and learn to put into practice the selfless truths taught by the Savior Himself.
~James E. Faust~
Yes, mom, you are so worthy. You are so appreciated, and you are so needed. I have seen little signs that my love has resonated deep within my children. The other day Hunter, now 21, told me how he now realizes we had very little when he was younger, but we still always managed to provide for the family and create fun memories.
That, although we may have had $1 Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese, it always felt like we were eating something special and fancy. Ok, so I know that may seem like something small, but to me, it meant the world. You see, you never know what little things you do will have a big impact. And trust me, although you may not hear it now, the gratitude will come. Who knew mine would come in the form of a frozen dinner?
Until then mom, believe in yourself. Gain confidence in the fact that you are doing your best and let God do the rest. Lay your tired head down on your pillow each night and thank Him for giving you such a big task. For believing in you way more than you will ever believe in yourself. Each phase your child goes through will have challenges. From them being a baby and the days ticking by sooo slowly, to them becoming teenagers and needing a ride somewhere more than they need you. Before you know it, they will be off to college and then married and having children of their own. Perhaps then they will finally realize how difficult your job is. But in the meantime, those years and phases will go by in the blink of an eye.
At the end of the day, I pray you will look back and acknowledge that although it was messy from time to time, you really did do a darn good job.
This Mother’s Day (and every day) wrap yourself in a big hug. If living people could become saints, all mothers would be ordained. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are wise, you are strong, and most of all, you can do this! I believe in you. Now go take on those dirty diapers and teenage years. You’ve got this!
P.S. I am blessed beyond words with a supportive and loving husband who is the best father and parenting partner I could ever hope for. I would be remiss not to include him in my reasons for my strength in motherhood. I cannot begin to tell you how many tearful conversations he had to listen to as I struggled my way through raising a teenage daughter. I love you Brett and our kids are blessed to have you as their devoted father.
P.P.S. About the instant I gave birth to Autumn, I realized how amazingly awesome my mom is. She raised me for many years as a single mother who worked full-time. She loved me through all my trying times (perhaps decades) and has become my best friend. Thank you for loving me Mom, I truly don’t deserve you, and I pray when they are grown, my kids will be as close to me as I am to you (cue crocodile tears).