Seth helping me in the garden today. Yes, he really did cover himself in dirt- hair, ears- everything. Yes he had a total blast doing it. Yes he went right into the bathtub afterward. :)
I have been a mom for almost eighteen months now.
Before that, I had so many ideas in my mind about how I would raise my children, and what kind of mother I would be. I had image in my head of what it was to be a parent. But now that I am one, now that I have been on this motherhood journey for a little while, I understand what people meant when they told me having a baby would change my life. I knew that they were right, but I wasn't worried at all. I knew that having a baby would be worth anything I might need to give up. I knew that I would love this child with every fiber of my being. About those two things, I was right.
Here are some things I have learned from motherhood...
The intensity of a mother's love.
There was nothing that could have prepared me for how much I would love this child. So much that it practically hurts sometimes. That love has exceeded the limits of my patience so often, smoothing things over and making me able to handle the harder times. It also makes me care more about the future, about the earth and about humanity. I see the world differently, now that I am a mom. When a piece of your heart is going to outlive you on this planet, suddenly the future state of the planet matters so much more.
Live in the moment.
Being a mom has taught me to focus more on the present, to be present more than ever before. I often feel like I gave birth, blinked, and suddenly he is a year and a half old- walking, talking, and asserting his independence at every turn. One of the universal truths of parenthood seems to be that time flies- that children grow up too fast. Experiencing the fleeting nature of each stage in Seth's life has made me slow down and appreciate who he is right now. Savor the present rather than constantly barreling ahead, a slave to my to-do list. This is such an important lesson for all of life- to live in the present- its something I feel I will always be working on. I am thankful for all that Seth has taught me about not taking time for granted.
Have more grace toward other parents.
This is not an easy job. Every family is unique, with different sources of stress and pain. Raising children in the midst of the rest of life can be so incredibly hard at times. I try not to judge other parents, even when it might appear they are making some negative choices. Instead of thinking negative thoughts toward them, I send them silent love and understanding. We all have our moments, and we are all still learning to be what our kids need- no one has it down perfectly yet. Along with that, being a mom has giving me a completely new perspective on my own mom, who I am so very thankful for.
Life is a beautiful mess.
When you have toddler, messes are just part of everyday life. My floors are usually dirty (even if I just washed them), food gets smeared everywhere, toys scattered randomly throughout the house. I don't always feel "put-together" each day when we leave the house, because I often just don't have the time. But it's all ok. Life is being lived in my home. It is filed with laughter and babbling, and I wouldn't trade that for anything. I am not always organized. I forget things- sometimes even important things. My hair is often neglected and most of my clothes either don't fit or are quite worn-out. I feel lucky each time I get a chance to shave my legs. I don't sleep enough. I get impatient and frustrated. Once in a while I yell, or cry. I've even had bouts of depression (which I've written about here before.)
Life as a mom isn't as glamorous as the picture I had in my head before Seth was born. It isn't as glamorous as the lives of some other moms I read about. But in its own way, it's better. I love it. I wouldn't change it for the world. This is my life.
And motherhood has taught me to embrace it all, including the messy parts.