Being a mom is the hardest job you will ever have
This becomes more evident every single day. As difficult as it was to tend to a newborn, or a newborn and a toddler, neither was harder than having two school-aged kiddos. Between meals and activities, sports, homework, and yet another school fundraiser I may or may not have forgotten about, being a mom is hard! I look back at my own childhood for strength and support, yearning at times to crane my neck into the past and ask, “What would my mom do?”
Simple. She would send us outside. My siblings and I grew up outside, in the most sincere of terms. Kids are being loud? Go play outside. Kids are old enough to walk, talk and somewhat ride a tricycle? Go play outside. I was a master tree-climber, I fell off my bike and roller blades more than any of my siblings. With a kiss, a band-aid or 5, and a pat on the back, my mom would clean me up and scoot me right back outside. Every photo of my sun-bleached blonder-than-usual hair and tan lines are proof that I practically lived outside as a child. And rainy days? Perfect puddle-jumping in the runoff along the street.
Being a mom is a thankless job
This quote from my mother echoes in my head at my lowest, most frustrated, and exhausted moments of motherhood. I will never forget the moment she said this to me. Pregnant with my first child, I was young at heart, but already older than she was when her third child was born. I must have mumbled an inaudible “Yeahhhh,” but didn’t really contemplate what that meant.
Then one day, it hit me. A walking zombie, slamming into the wall and breaking my nose as I ran to breastfeed my never-seeming-to-sleep first child. I was only or so months into the realm of oh man, what did I get myself into? You don’t get a paycheck to reward you for your hard work. There is no team meeting offering support, guidance and constructive criticism. Mom groups can become the enemy. Acknowledgment of failure or the inability to figure out what their needs even are, is the “norm” in parenting.
A mom must be willing to change the things she can, and accept the things she cannot. Easier said than done. The “thanks” you are given for 16 hours awake, cleaning, cooking, bouncing and diapering a baby is (hopefully) a few hours of sleep. Our children are living proof that every day is worth the effort. But in the throes of disastrously overwhelming fatigue, isolation and failure can be more evident than anything you are doing well.
Once a Mom, Always a Mom
I don’t distinctly remember what my mother said after, “You will never not be a mom, again….” But boy, do I remember feeling that one in my gut. No matter how old your children are, or the strong and independent human being they evolve into, YOU ARE THEIR MOM. Sleepless nights with a newborn baby seem minor compared to waiting at the DMV as they take their license test. Waiting up late for a teenager driver seems horrifyingly more complex than shuffling in at 2 a.m. for a diaper change, or trip to the toilet. Determining which preschool was worthy seems minor as you check the mail 2 and 3 times a day, waiting for college acceptance letters…
Every realm of parenting is hard, because at the start, each phase is new. Every milestone is both treasured and despised by moms. They signal growth, intelligence, and ability, as well as evidence they need you a little less each step of the way.
I am grateful
Looking back, I now recognize how hard saying no to a pleading child was for my mother. No mom wants to be the “bad guy”, yet we almost always are tasked with such. I don’t remember a single time my mom told me I couldn’t have another piece of candy or watch more T.V. I do remember the times she comforted, consoled, guided, and taught me. My mother sacrificed so much to have and raise children that were not just an extension of her, but a better version of herself. I am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to create and raise little people. As thanks to my mother, her dedication and selfless work.
My single goal as a mom? Create a better version of me. Thankful, appreciative, and in awe of all I managed to do for them, somewhere down the line.
Most likely, though, they won’t realize it until they have children of their own.