Thursday, April 24, 2008

i have no title today

*post script added at bottom of entry*

These days I really want to switch Thoughts For Thursday posts to TFMonday, Wednesday, or Friday. Since we started these Thursday "conversation starters" my Thursdays have grown increasingly busy and rarely do I have the time I want to read and comment on all the other TFT girls, let alone write one up myself. I need to treat my own post as a homework assignment I guess and have it ready to go before Thursdays since I no longer have free time during my day. I always have stuff in my head to write about, I just never have time to articulate it by the time Thursday rolls around.
I'm going to try and get this out in the 45 minutes I have before picking SJ up from school, and though I've read at least most of you other TFT'ers, I'll hopefully be back to comment elsewhere tonight!

My Thoughts For Thursday this week is a mom topic. Sorry for all you non-moms out there, but you're welcome to read too as maybe this is a side of motherhood you've never pondered before. I'm not sure if this will be one with much response to it... it's probably just more of what's been on my mind today.
Last evening we were at a dessert gathering with some friends as well as some new people we hadn't met in our church. Toward the end of the evening Ryan and I were chatting with one of the men we had just met that night and after hearing earlier that I was a stay at home mom, and probably combined with the fact that we had the youngest kids there, he asked me a casual question... "So, how do you like being a mom, Heather?"
To which I chuckled and replied, "Oh, I like it. Most days, that is!"
And we moved on in conversation. Actually he followed it up with a couple of comments like, "I just always like to ask that. I don't know what it's like; I've never been a mom. :)" He does have a couple of older, grown kids and I think as in jest as those comments might have been, that it is a good point. It's interesting to think about what it's like to be a mom, if you've never been one, even if you have been a dad.

"So how do you like being a mom, Heather?"
For some reason, this whole 18 hours since then, something about that question has been sticking in my head. At first I just thought it was the fact that I'm not asked that question often. I do remember that in the first few months of new parenthood, every once in awhile someone would ask something along the lines of "how do you like being a mom?" or "how's this parenting thing going for you?" in just the new parent kind of chit chat that goes on. But I'd say it's been more than four years since I've been asked that question. And for some reason it really made me stop and think.

Do I like being a mom?

I knew back then, the answer was an emphatic yes. I always knew I wanted to be a mom, I loved having a new baby, a new identity, a new way of life. I loved the promise and potential in this new little person. I loved taking care of her (and him when he came along too), I loved having such an important purpose and such a unconditional love for something/someone. I loved the miracle of everyday watching this little person develop and grow and become his/her own little person and to be such an intricate part of that process. It is an indescribable thing.

But today? Do I like being a mom?
I love having my kids. I love everything about having my kids in my life. There's not a day that I would ever wish them away. I can't even begin to imagine my life without them or what it would do to me to ever lose one of them. I love being a family. I love the love in our home; I love the way Sawyer snuggles up to me, I love the way SJ wishes her daddy could stay home with her every day, I love the way she wants to buy the house across the street so that when she and Sawyer grow up they can get married (to each other!) and live right there so close and we can all see each other every day. I love the joy my kids bring into our lives.

But being a mom? It's hard. As a job? As an everyday responsibility? It's the hardest thing I will ever do in my life.
And you know what? For me, it's not about the physical stuff. That's not what I'm saying is hard. Sure, no one is in love with the fact that they might have to get up 6 times a night. No one would voluntarily change some of the blow out diapers I've come across. No one would sign up for a night of worrying over a feverish coughing child. The care and comfort of your kids can be a taxing and tough job at times.

But you know what I'm realizing is the harder part? I thought the first few years were easy... Teething? We can suffer through that. Tantrums? I can handle those. For me, it's when you get past the ups and downs of baby, toddler and into and beyond the preschool years, and you realize it's slowly turned into so much more than simply taking care of your kids. Suddenly it's more about who you are as a person, who you are as a mom and who your kids are becoming. It becomes really raising kids. Kids with the kinds of habits and personalities and morals that we have a direct influence on. Instead of teaching my daughter not to touch the hot stove, now I'm having to teach her how to not blow up irrationally with anger. Instead of teaching her not to push her brother, I'm having to teach her how and why to speak to him with love and respect, even when she may not feel like it. Instead of putting her in time out for a tantrum, I'm having to teach her how to walk through her feelings, to understand the world around her in such a more mature and intellectual way than just "that's not okay". Helping her to see and understand and learn that it's more than behavioral do's and don'ts... that it's about heart and attitude and that's a whole different ballgame of learning and teaching.
It's a scary job. Savannah is not a baby anymore. She's turning into her own person more and more each day, and more and more each day I'm realizing I don't have all the right answers and I don't have all the right lessons.
It's a little overwhelming with some of the issues she and I have been dealing with the last couple of days... and it's intimidating that really, when I think about the fact that this is nothing compared to the teen years we have ahead of us.

So it's days like this that I deep down want to answer Bob's question and say, "Honestly? Sometimes no. I don't enjoy being a mom. I love being a mother; I love having children, I love watching them grow and there's no one I'd rather be spending my life with. But having the job of mom? Some days I'd much rather pawn that job off on someone else."
I'd like to just have fun with them and not deal with the hard stuff. I'd like to stand by and watch an outburst, a tantrum, a meltdown, a stomp-off-to-her-room-yelling-and-crying-slamming-doors argument and not have the follow up job on my shoulders. I'd like to not be the one tattled to, the one positively redirecting all the time, the one reminding and explaining myself over and over. Because this job is hard. It's hard because it matters. It's hard and it's wearing, and it's sometimes disheartening. I second guess myself, I worry that I'm not guiding her in the way I should be.
When I look at the big picture of being a mom, sometimes it seems overwhelming to me. When I really think about it, it's a scary responsibility. And while it all makes me strive to be a better mom, opens my eyes to things in myself personally that can improve my life in general, I also have to balance that with sometimes taking a step back and remembering that I can't do it on my own. I have to take it day by day, I'm not perfect, I don't know all the "right" ways to raise my kids to be the best people they can be. It's a process for me as much as it is for them.
(And for you who are thinking this, yes I also remind myself daily that this job is not mine alone... that I need to rely on the Lord as our "co-parent", adviser and strength. That's just a whole nother page of journaling and I didn't want to get all preachy and spiritual here.)

So to wrap up my rambling here, I guess I don't even know what I'm trying to say. Asking myself that question: Do I like being a mom? It's a hard job. And sometimes I feel it will be hard for the rest of my life. At the very least, for the next 20 years of my life.
But I also know it's the most rewarding thing I will ever do as well. I get glimpses of that every single day. And as overwhelmingly challenging it can seem sometimes, I know the more I am aware of the challenges, and the more I am intentional in my journey as a mom, the richer those rewards will be. And I wouldn't trade that for anything.

I'm sure pretty much everyone would be better at condensing this answer than I am... if you care to share at all...
How do you like being a mom?

*ETA* I wanted to include this that I read over here today. Once again, as she does so often, Linda put into words exactly what is in my head that I just can't seem to describe. Here's an excerpt from her post today...

My boys are like something enormous and spectacular mined from the depths of the earth, faceted and painfully glorious, heavy and burdensome. This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. This is so hard to carry. We hold them high and march through the days, bearing that which we love beyond all measure. My arms tremble.

I am so much more capable than I have ever been. I am weak and filled with shortcomings. I am a flexing muscle, aching under an indescribable, joyous weight.

Thank you Linda.


karicarp said...

Heather, I am so impressed with the way you worded your thoughts and the way they came across. Interstingly enough I was in the kitchen about an hour ago getting myself something to eat and looking forward to the "me" time I had this evening. Kenedey went to a friends and Carson went to bed early and hubby isn't home yet. I found myself thinking... wow this is what it would be like if I didn't have kids, I would be getting dinner for myself, going to the computer to do some "work" and a night open to whatever may come. I liked that idea. Would I like it if it was all the time that way or is it just so enticing because it's such an unusual "thing/time" for me. To answer your question... How do I like being a mom? My 1st response that comes up is..." I LOVE it". I too knew always knew I would be a mommy and I love the little boogers more than anything could ever compare. However, I can honestly say that I also really hate the emotional parts to parenting. I hate worrying all the time about their emotional well being and how my every move affects them. I too know that it causes me to live a more intentional life, and strive to be everything that they need, but you are so right... it's TAXING. I think it's worse too with girls. Maybe I think that now only because my daugther is 11 and my son almost 2, but I have always been so protective of her emotional side. I worried even when she was little that every little thing would "affect" her. With Carson, I don't worry so much. Weird! Anyway... this was a great post! I am going to link to you on my blog also!

Michelle Leigh said...

Wow, you do such a great job of wording your thoughts, and you really are a thinker. If someone would have asked me that question I would have just answered yes. But, looking deeper into it, I do love it. It's scary as hell, but the thought that I shape someone's life is amazing. I am truly lucky. I am nowhere near having a 5 year old though, so ask me in 3 years how I feel!

Jessica said...

I have been having some of those exact same thoughts, feelings, etc running around and around in my head with Alyssa, and you just nailed them all and worded things so perfectly.

Do I like being a mom? Honestly...I do like it, but there's a whole bunch of emotions mixed in. Sometimes I love it, but for the most part I feel intimidated by it. That feels a little weird to admit, but it's true. It's a hard job. I love my kids more than anything in this world. Being their mom? That's the hard part!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't answer that question with a 100% yes. I can say that I wouldn't want to be anything else, but I didn't realize how hard it would be. I think it is harder to be a mom to one of my kids than the other. I think it is a personality thing and not really a developmental stage thing. I love him just as much as the other child, but it is not easy disciplining him and there seems to be a LOT of that involved in parenting him. Throw in the fact that I am a white woman raising two black men and talk about putting you over the top with pressure. I found myself thinking about the long term lessons and teaching them about heart issues since day 1. I think it is just more intense parenting than parenting a white child, because you know that society will not give your black child a second chance or the benefit of the doubt. I see defiant behaviors in him, and inside I freak out and come down on him SO much harder than I would a white daughter for example I think I would feel like I had a little bit more lead way to teach her. With my one son in particular I feel like I have to be on it right away and nip it in the bud immediately. If not, I feel like I am failing him as a mother by setting him up for failure later. And of course I second guess myself CONSTANTLY, which is NOT a pleasant experience for me. I slowly find myself getting more comfortable, but I believe that peace is ALL God. Amie R.

annie said...

Very well said. I LOVE being a mom and it is MUCH harder at times than I ever could've imagined. I'm a better, worse, crazier, more graceful, angrier, more emotional, and more loving person than I ever was (or knew I was) before I became Cade's & Callum's mama. More and more I'm finding my days slowly (and sometimes quite rapidly) crumble when I'm not giving my words/hopes/fears to God each and every morning (even if I just have 5 or 10 min to myself in the shower). Great thoughts, thanks for elaborating on the topic!

jessica said...

Everybody is right, Heather, today--and every day--you express yourself in words very well.

I can relate. And I agree in so many ways. I happen to have both ages of kids at the same time now. So while I'm teaching Gertie to treat people with loving-kindness and to wash her hands after she goes potty, I am teaching my oldest that the world and the people in it aren't necessarily black and white. I don't want her to use foul language, but I don't want to judge people that do. I want her to love kids at school who aren't so lovable, but I want her to choose the right best friends. These are formative years (and so are the youngest ones, really) where they are comprehending that a friend says something hurtful, spills their secrets. They see when someone they like treats somebody else poorly. They have to learn to navigate this environment in a Godly way. That is what I find hard and know that I must be falling short.

And to make it more complicated, while I'm trying to contemplate these more difficult issues, Gertie throws her banana in the garbage, dumps out the bucket of marbles all over the hardwood floor, screams at us, and needs a drink right now!

So it is exhausting, I don't get a break, and if I get one I don't like my break as much as I thought I would. But like all those other moms, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love seeing those faces in the morning, when they come home from school.

And one other thing, I think these harder kids endear themselves to us so much in that we've invested so much into them. Of course, I couldn't say I love one more than the other. I don't. But my daughter was--and is--pretty easy. She always has been. I LOVE that about her. My son was harder, but I'm just crazy about him as well. I put a lot of sweat and tears into that kid. And I like him a lot!

Anonymous said...

wow, heather... this was an AMAZING post!

for me... i don't feel like having a baby really 'rocked my world' so to speak, like it seems to for some people. i did have the baby blues for like six weeks, but otherwise it's been pretty, well... it's been EASY. i felt prepared, i felt ready, i knew what to do with a baby. it kind of all surprised me because i'm NOT a 'kid person' at all... never have been. even my mom commented to me that she was surprised at how well i seemed to take to it. i kind of just slipped right into my new role, my husband and i both did, it's just been the most natural thing in the world. i think it's helped that max is such a laid-back baby.


now that he's getting older, and i'm just now starting to have to say NO... or redirect him... the very first lessons of discipline, i'm getting scared. because you are right, the first few years are easy... people say it's hard having a newborn, and it is in a way, but you're totally right, it's the only the PHYSICAL part that's harder. everything else is a piece of cake - there's basically no discipline, not much figuring out if you're doing the right thing, making the right choices on what to teach them. it's a whole different ballgame having a CHILD. and so, in a way, i don't even feel qualified to answer your question yet. :) from what i know so far, i LOVE being a mom. but i also know it's only going to get harder from here on out. all the worrying, all the second-guessing, all the ups and downs. i feel like i've spent the whole past year saying to myself 'oh, so THIS is how my mom feels about me.' i have a whole new perspective now on how my parents must have felt even in recent years when i told them i was getting married, was pregnant, etc... i'll still be worrying about max when he's grown up, wanting him to make the best decisions for himself... how DRAINING. but i'll hopefully also be seeing him succeed in life, be a good person, start a family of his own someday. which is why being a mom is the job of a lifetime. it's the hardest, but also the most rewarding.

Christy said...

Heather-- I am not a mom-- but hope to some day be one! This post is awesome! I think it's so much more than the love and joy- it's realizing that you are shaping someones tomorrow! It's looking beyond to day thinking about how your discipline, love, forgiveness and persiverence will impact them when they be come independant. Great job! Keep up being a great mom!

jessica said...

you're right. it's soooo different, the types of parenting i have to do with my son (9) and my daughter (1)... her, i just have to keep her alive and teach her basics. him, i have to worry whether the school is challenging him. whether i am being a good example when it comes to the way i am living my life, my attitude toward every single thing, how i handle each issue. how i drive. my comments about other people. because he's watching and being such a sponge. and just about everything i do affects them in some way. i do think about this constantly, about what kind of parent i am, but not so much about whether i enjoy it or not. you've made me think about that. some days, i don't. i don't enjoy discipline, although it's abundant. it makes me uncomfortable sometimes, thinking about whether i am doing the 'right thing' in the 'right moment'. i am sad some days that i can't make everything 'ok' for him, and that i can only be a support system sometimes as he struggles while i watch. i'm not far from the teenage years, and i know it'll be here soon. too soon. what a great post. thank you.

jenny said...

i missed this post and read it today - awesome job on it.

how do i like being a mom? i think i feel like a lot of you do. i love it and it is going to be the hardest but most rewarding journey i will ever take in my life.

the first few weeks for me were draining mentally. my hormones and emotions were all over the place. in the first year of tucker's life, it was more a physical drain than anything. now that he's two, we've entered a new ballgame and i'm just beginning the stage of 'teaching'. i want to raise a kind, smart, fun little guy - but i know that i'm helping to create the mold now and well, it's kind of scary when you really think about it! exciting too!

i'm sure i have more thoughts, but it's getting late and i have to head to bed!

great thoughts.

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