Before I became a mother, I thought I knew the kind of mother I’d be. I had an idea in my head of the hows, and whats, and whys. I had a timeline of the whens I thought would fall into place. I’d watched my mommy friends with their children and took mental notes of how they handled situations. I asked my family questions I didn’t know the answers to and I Googled what I was too ashamed to admit I didn’t know. I did everything I could to help prepare me for the world of mothering.
My baby boy entered the world three weeks before his due date, screaming his new little lungs out. The nurse placed him on my chest and I looked into his eyes. I held him as close as I could, his skin against my skin and gazed in awe at the precious gift God had given me. I felt love wash over me. It was then I knew my life was changed. It was then I knew I was changed.
Suddenly, I was a mother. This screaming little boy would call me mommy someday. He became mine and I became his. He was now depending on me for everything. His physical well being, his emotional well being, his survival rested with me. The weight of this knowledge nearly overwhelmed me. It nearly scared me senseless. But then I looked at him, so tiny and precious, so peaceful and perfect, and that love washed over me anew, washing worry away as it did.
Our hospital stay ended and we went entered the house a happy family of three instead of the expectant couple we had left as. I felt better than I had in months, not surprisingly, with more energy than I knew what to do with. My baby was healthy and happy. I couldn’t have asked for a better beginning together. My little one and I embarked on our journeys, his to infancy and mine toward motherhood.
I have learned a lot on my journey, things no one told me.
I learned very quickly to always have a diaper ready when changing a baby boy’s diaper, because as soon as air hits him, he’s going to pee. Said pee will hit you in the face or go in your hair or even somehow manage to get in your newborn’s eyes. It’ll happen. Trust me.
I learned what colic looks like and even though you never wanted to rock the baby in fear the child would have to be rocked to go to sleep, you rock the baby anyway. You’ll also try every home remedy you hear. For us, this including rubbing warm vegetable oil on my boy’s tummy. Sounds crazy, but after an hour of crying, you’ve already past crazy, so you think it’s worth a shot. FYI, it didn’t help my son.
I learned fingernails and toenails can fall off if your baby has a horrible case of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. The doctor didn’t tell us that. So when I saw it happening, my husband and I freaked out. We then searched online for possible causes, realizing this dreadful virus can cause it only after we feared our child’s liver could be failing.
And I’ve learned the truth about mothering.
The truth is it’s so much more than diaper changes and two in the morning feedings. Sure, there are a lot of those, along with sanitizing nipples and spit up and bicycling little legs because there’s been no poopy diapers in two days. It’s more than rubber duckies and teething rings and lotions that make their skin smell so good you wish you could just hold them forever.
It’s vowing to never put them in your bed, only to give in after sleeping on the couch with them for a month because every time you put them down, they start screaming and you have to sleep so you can work the next day. It’s then realizing that waking up and seeing that little face first thing in the morning is one of the happiest moments of your day, one you would have missed it if you’d stuck to your guns.
It’s the worry you can’t shake when your little one’s temperature sticks at 102 no matter what you do. It’s being so tire you forget you’ve got one bottle down and get another one down from the shelf to make the formula in. It’s crying in the middle of the night because you know you were too hard on your toddler when he was throwing a tantrum and vowing to do better the next day. It is the fear you’re failing and you praying you’re not.
The truth is mothering is the hardest thing a woman can do. It is beautiful and precious and more love than I have ever known. At the same time, it’s all consuming and exhausting. It is scary, and heavy, and sometimes it feels impossible to handle. It is stress to the max times infinity and beyond.
The truth that trumps the rest, the truer than truest truths, the deepest truth of all is this:
Mothering is worth it.
Mothering is worth every single last bit of it. It is worth every ounce of the energy I expel. It is worth all the love I gladly give. It is worth every pile of laundry, every spit-up on blouse, every sleepless night and endless day. It is worth the aggravation, the tears, and every pang of guilt I feel.
It is worth it, because our children are worth it all. I know my son is. The man he will grow into is worth it. The husband he will learn to be is worth it. The father he will someday become is worth it.
Some days the joy of mothering is overshadowed by the stress. At times, the weight of mothering is much more than the toddler on my hip. There are nights I don’t think I’ll survive, and yet I always see the morning light, by the grace of God. No matter how rocky and stormy the path of mothering becomes, I press on. Because I’ve learned the truth:
Mothering is worth it.
And the truth will stand when the world’s on fire.