My daughter is turning three years old next week. Seems insane. When you’re pregnant people love to tell you about how fast it will all go by. My response when I was pregnant was to smile politely and try to pretend that I hadn’t heard that same line a million times since my waistline had started expanding. But, it’s true. Time flies.
I’m also about a month and a half away from popping out my second nugget. I am completely in waddle mode. I want to do nothing but sleep and eat, and then sleep some more. The countdown has begun.
I ponder motherhood a lot. My husband and I made the decision that I would be a stay-at-home mom. I am a feminist. I completely support mothers who work, and mothers who decide to stay home. But, for me, I just couldn’t handle the idea of missing out on any part of the first years of my kid’s life. We make sacrifices, and It sure would be lovely to have a second income. But, right now, it works for us.
It’s not unusual for my husband and I to sit together, after tucking our girl in and singing her sleepy time songs, and talk about how proud we are of her, and of all the things we want for her. We also wonder if we’re good parents. It’s something that is really important to us. I’ll be the first to admit that I screw up constantly. There are a million things that I could do better. The only way that I can be sane when I think about it, is to know that I do the best I can.
Lately, when I ponder, I think about some of the things that motherhood has taught me.
Among the oh-so-obvious are patience, and selflessness. I am challenged by these every day. I am also extremely grateful for those challenges (though not always in the moment). I’d like to think I’ve always been the kind of person that wanted to constantly improve myself. Whether or not that was completely true before motherhood, it sure as hell is now.
The maybe not-so-obvious part of patience is learning to have more patience with myself. Sure, it’s hard sometimes to have patience with a vivacious little tot who is still learning boundaries. But, sometimes it’s even harder to have patience with myself. To allow myself to be far from perfect. To remember that I’m learning every day just like my little one. It’s been hard to learn to give myself a break. Maybe that’s not a struggle for everyone, but it has been for me.
Slowing down. I remember being told that everything takes longer to do once you have kids. It’s true. Just loading up in the car to go to the grocery store can feel like an overwhelming undertaking some days. But, something I’ve learned, is that if I try to power on full steam ahead in the crazy rush to everything mode that we’re so used to, it sucks. (Of course, sometimes a timetable is unavoidable. I get that.) But, in general, if I can take a deep breath and stop to smell the roses I’m a much happier momma with a much happier kid. My kid loves to say hello to the grackles in parking lots. I don’t want to take that away from her. And, I kinda like saying hello to the grackles, too.
“No, I do not weep at the world. I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.” One of my favorite quotes. From Zora Neale Hurston. I think about how I want my kids to be whatever they want to be. I want them to be strong, and independent. I want them to know that working hard to accomplish something is possible, and gratifying, and damn satisfying. I want them to know not be discouraged by assholes, but to seek out and be the kind of people that lift others up.
Thinking about the kind of people I want them to grow up to be forces me to look at myself, too. While they are little munchkins, their daddy and I are their most prominent examples. It’s important for them to see us be kind, and lift others up. We have to try and not be discouraged by hard things that come our way. I’ve learned that I have to be the kind of person that I hope that they will be. That’s a heavy one.
And lastly, despite the gazillions of other things I could prattle on about: love.
I want the biggest emotion in my repertoire of emotions to be love. If I’m pissed off because something isn’t going ok, it’s cool. If I’m having a hard time and need a little space, it’s alright. If I feel exhausted and overwhelmed, and want to cry because I feel like I just can’t keep my shit together, I’ll get through it. If the world falls apart, and the sky falls on me, that should all pale in comparison to the love I have for my family. I have learned since becoming a mom that, despite it being eye-rollingly romantic, that I believe in the wonderful effects of love. And, I want to revel in the good as much as I can. That seems pretty damn obvious, but it is just too easy to forget. It’s too easy to become robotic. It’s too easy to float through it all. And, I don’t want to do that.