Later this summer, I will enter my 6th year of being a mom. My sixth year! If you think about it, I really should have my shit together by now but considering how we've added three boys to our family in four short years, the truth of the matter is, I'm far from having a modicum of shit together. Just when I think I have my shit together, somebody pulls the rug out from under me and there goes my feet, right up over my head, scattering my shit all over the freaking place. So if you, too, are a mom of however many and you don't have your shit together either, I'm fist-bumping you. You're not alone.
Of note, it's probably about time I stop saying "shit" out loud around my children. The last thing I need is a call home from the principal- although I can't say I'd be surprised if my phone rang tomorrow and it was Mrs. Murphy. I was surprised, however, to receive a call home from the school nurse last week, filling me in on a special little visit she had with Carter. It wasn't emergent by any means (and I love how those are always the first four words out of her mouth as soon as I answer the phone, adrenaline pumping, one foot out the door on my way to the ER).
She was phoning to let me know how much she always appreciates her visits with Carter- even those quick passingsby in the hallways at school, when he always addresses her by name and greets her with a eager "Hello!" and the most perfect eye contact. It's amazing how these simple little gestures can make people feel so special and loved and by God, she was calling to tell me how my little almost-six-year old makes her, a grown adult, feel loved and special every time he sees her. She couldn't stop telling me how proud she is of him and how she made sure to tell him that over and over again.
I had to awkwardly laugh to hide the tears that were pricking my eyes. I had taken the phone call while at the park with some of my girlfriends and their kids and as I was walking along the railroad ties that lined the playground space, I had to do everything I could to not break down and cry and wonder how I'd missed these moments. How, when I think of my first-born, that it isn't his perfect eye contact or genuine concern for others that comes to mind right away but rather how he really kind of sucked at listening that particular morning and melted down over having to wear one pair of sneakers over the other whose lost mate was no where to be found when we needed to be out the door five minutes ago.
And it made me realize how thankful I am for The Village that it takes to raise our children. I've always heard people speak of this Village but it wasn't until the last couple of years that I've actually felt it. For the longest time, even, I worried that I'd somehow missed out on a Village and that I was somehow broken or unwanted by these Villages that I've heard so many speak of but that wasn't the case at all. I just had to find the right Village.
Since having our third baby almost two years ago, I forget more things than I remember. I scramble more times than calmly meander and I've become downright terrible at remaining consistent in most facets of my life: texting, blogging and cooking dinner just to name a few. I capture and memorialize my children's childhood in approximately six-thousand tiny squares because I want to remember every second of it (well, most every second of it) and right now I can only do so by smelling their sweaty heads 542 times a day and taking lots of pictures.
Motherhood is so hard and while I feel so incredibly blessed and these blessed feelings take up every conceivable empty space in my heart and in my bones, just because it's a blessing don't mean its easy. What I'm realizing more and more is that the only person who expects you to accomplish the 472 things on your To Do List is you. Okay, and maybe my husband but otherwise, Mother, you shouldn't be so hard on yourself.
While these days can be so hard, so soul-drainingly difficult even, the truth is, the hardness should not take away from the beauty. Because although often disguised as some of the messiest work, Mothering truly is the most beautiful work even when we're in the trenches of young Motherhood.
I may not have gotten really good at a lot of things these last six years but I've certainly gotten much better at realizing the humanity of mothering. Meaning that we as Mothers are only human.
We will fail and we will falter. We will fall and fall again but we will also learn. And we will rise and we will overcome and it is in these moments of humanness that we see the raw and unfaltering beauty of what it means to be a mother.
To going without. To being strong when weakness is much easier. To loving unconditionally and I mean really without condition. To being selfless in those moments when you wish to be anything but. To stand up for your children when you'd rather run and hide. To make decisions that are in their best interests and not your own. To loving them more than you love yourself and so much that it physically hurts when you have let go and let others guide them.
To using Dreft baby wash on your bath towels, long after the baby laundry is outgrown, just so you can trigger those deliciously sweet memories of the newborn days, when your children were small and quiet and didn't talk back so much.
Continue to find beauty in the hard parts of Motherhood and will somebody please let me know when I can expect to have my shit together again?