Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Some Thoughts on Mothers

I was thinking this morning how this corner of the blogging community that I "hang out in" has a disproportionately large number of young mamas like myself in it. I think it's because we need this community. It feeds us, helps us feel less alone and gives us positive feedback we don't necessarily get on a daily basis in our "real" life. Being a mother of little guys is a job we are not paid for or really even acknowledged for....ever! And if there is acknowledgement it is often when those kids have kids themselves and realize how hard we worked.

Being a young mother is HARD. If you are or have ever been a mother of little ones, you know the word "hard" just doesn't cover it. Being a mother is also RICH. If you are or have ever been a mother of little ones, you know that "rich" just doesn't cover it. It's a blend of HARD and RICH, with some seasons that are more hard than others, while other periods are more rich than others. The rich makes up for the hard, don't you think? But does that make the difficult parts any less difficult? Nope.

I remember the first couple months of being a mother as a sort of scary, magical, wonderful, terrible BLUR. When Emily was only about a month old 9/11 happened and there were a few hours there where I thought the world as we knew it might end. The feeling of vulnerability was staggering. I sat there nursing my itty-bitty while planes crashed into sky scrapers and wondered if another was headed our way. An entire human being was dependent upon me for sustenance and life. This was a new feeling that both terrified me and brought to life an entirely new person I didn't know was inside me.

I remember a feeling of pride as a new mother. The good kind. I had carried, given birth to and was keeping alive this new and beautiful baby. Caring for Emily called forth strength I didn't know I had. It pulled an unselfishness from me that I didn't know I was capable of. I was carried on the tide of motherhood to a place I could never have journeyed of my own accord. This was a place where my own needs were always considered second and sometimes third. This was a place where I just did things (waking up in the night, breastfeeding, keeping her comfortable and on a routine) that had nothing to do with my needs or desires. I probably thought I was a generous person prior to my daughter's birth. But her coming shone a big, bright light on just how me-centered I had been up to that point. But it's not as if, at her birth, I suddenly summoned enough will-power or determination to become this new, better person...No! Emily called it out of me. She demanded it. She needed it. She couldn't live without it.

And as that new me was born, that old me....well, died. The part of me that only thought of my own needs and occasionally, if I so chose, those of my husband, family and friends. My life stopped going the way I planned it to. The time that I wake and the time I go to sleep stopped being determined by me. The amount of uninterrupted "me" time became completely unpredictable from one day to the next. Even my brain was taken over....was I producing enough milk and was Emily getting enough...when did she eat last and when should I lay her down to sleep....was a video while I shoveled food into her distracted mouth going to kill her sweet little brain cells....was she crying because of a tooth coming in or an ear infection... And that was just the first year. Now she walks across the street to her school, brings home homework, asks where babies come from and fights with her siblings. I have a different brain than I had 6 years ago. And God knows I have a different body than I had 6 years ago!

The new me is better than the old me, no doubt. Not as rested, a little grumpier and not as skinny, but overall, better. But does that make being this person pleasant or fun? Sometimes. Not usually. But do I ever in a million years want to be that old me who did whatever the hell I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it? Unequivocally, no. Absolutely not. This me is kinder, more accepting, more empathetic and more creative. I love this me and this life.
That does not negate the difficulty of this new me and this new life. Life as a mother is rich but it is so very, very hard. And those of us who have been there and done that know that being a mom of a child under two is a gauntlet of sorts. Babies under two require so much physical and emotional labor and can not be reasoned with or asked to suspend their needs. If you don't remember or haven't yet experienced what life is like with a child under two, there is no way to explain the challenge that it is!

Here's a Bible verse my friend, Jennifer Pafford reminded me of a couple weeks ago, in an effort to encourage me (and it did):

Jeremiah 40:11
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather the lambs,
And carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

That image of God physically helping and caring for my kids while gently leading me, the mother, has been comforting me lately. This is a God that "gets" what it's like to be a mother and "gently leads me." He doesn't just say, "Oh honey...all moms have days like that." He physcially carries my babies for me. Oh I don't mean literally, of course. I wish. I think the Bible's reference to "the body of Christ" and "being Christ's hands and feet" mean those who aren't moms and dads of itty-bitties can and should physically BE God in young mothers' lives or in anyone's life, for that matter. I don't want to forget that when my youngest passes that 2-year mark and becomes more independent. Moms of itty-bitties need help. Physical help. They need us to come along and "carry" their babies for a bit so that they can rest or just freaking use the bathroom alone! They are sleep-deprived, over-extended, tired human beings who need help. I am determined to not forget how it feels to be me at this time of my life so that when the time comes, I can offer that support and help to other young mamas.

And I guess what I'm saying is that this "blogging community" is that for me some days. You girls "gently lead me." I feel a companionship with you. I feel like my day is a little brighter because of you. I am challenged to make something to show you. And then I get to hear you tell me how pretty, clever or creative that "something" is. So thank you. And maybe this week we can all make a point of encouraging and being extra kind to those in this little community who we know are Mamas to itty-bitties.


The Rose Room said...

Cheryl, what a beautiful thoughtful post you have written and one I am sure all young Mum relate to. You are quite right about blogging as a Mum of a itty-bitty, the blogging world does 'prop' you up, take away the at home loneliness and inspire the creative side we all have. Thank you:) Rachaelxo

Alison Gibbs said...

Cheryl fabulous post. So well put. Even us older Moms that somehow turned into Grandmas (happens in the blink of an eye-or so it seems)can relate to it all.
Blogland is a wonderful place

Adla said...

what a beautiful post Cheryl. As scared as I am to face motherhood, I am so happy that this little bub is growing inside of me. Fears aside , I shall await the joy or riches that comes with motherhood. Hope you have a wonderful mothers day with your itsy bitsies. The blogging community is such a comfort for us all. :)

chat soon, Adla

twinkleshabbystar said...

Cheryl, Oh wow! I am sooo incredibly moved by your beautiful post! You are so right! Being a Mom to wee ones is HARD work, but the rewards are way RICHER and I would have it no other way. It's so nice to be able to come here "blogland" and connect with other Mamma's like ourselves. We are each others support group!
Thank you for this gorgeous and eloquent post. :) XOXO

Thrifty Miss Priss said...

Very well said! I think a lot of us can identify with your words today! Happy Mothers Day on Sunday!

Simply Me Art said...

Beautiful Post and very Well said...

Anonymous said...

Oh Cheryl, I am sobbing right now. I guess I really needed to read what you wrote. As a momma to a 4 year old and a 10 month old sometimes I feel like NO ONE understands what it is really like (I think so many of us sugar coat our lives and don't say how dang hard it really is!) then I come here and read your post and it really put a smile to my face as other mommas really DO know! ;) Your post was so well written, so heartwarming and so right... motherhood is both RICH and HARD! Happy Mother's Day! ((((HUGS))) ~Jennifer Spearman

Natasha Burns said...

what a beautiful post Cheryl, you have said it perfectly. It is hard work but I guess the only things worth doing are the things you work hard at. We wouldn't have it any other way would we? Have a great Mother's Day sweetie ox

Ele at abitofpinkheaven said...

Cheryl, you are such a sweatheart. Even though my youngest is in highschool, I really know what you are talking about as I have always been a SAHM/WAHM. Every step of the way, something "dies" and you LEARN to LET other parts of you flourish; sending these babies to school, highschool, college, across the ocean to study, watching them become adults. You are always connected to them, but the role changes. As mothers whos' children are our first priority, we are always seeking for ways to cope. This blogging community is a huge support. I am so proud of mothers who put their children first and I am also talking about the many women who work outside the home, that also do this. One day, your child will call home and say, "thank you". They understand the time you gave, your unselfish nature, your unconditional love. It's nice to hear, but you will turn around and tell your child, "thank you, for being you. You are the best gift God could ever have given me." From the richness of your will mean it through and through. Hugs to you and strength to face all the challenges of the day knowing you are very special. Your article is wonderful.

beth said...

hi cheryl - so eloquently put !!! being a mommy too i know how little appreciation comes at times with the job - yet when they say i love you mommy - the whole world stands still!! anyways happy mothers day !! it should be mothers day everyday !!LOL ! i too believe the blogging commmunity pushes me and supports me - its such a fantastic group to be a part of !

julie said...

Wonderful post! I just love the way you think! I have two sweet and silly little ones and totally agree with everything you said! Enjoy! Julie

Heather ~Pretty Petals said...

Cheryl, this is such a beautiful and uplifting post.... hope you have a wonderful Mothers Day!! xoxo Heather

Karin@creativechaos said...

Cheryl....what a beautiful post!!

Lori said...

Cheryl, I can only think of a few simple words to share with you after your beautiful post, they are. I love you for being the woman and Mom you are! Your a blessing to me. Happy Mother's Day my dear, sweet, Cheryl! Love,Lori

Mrs.Kwitty said...

What a beautiful post---I'm in tears here! Motherhood IS hard work, and you are so right, it does change who you are...for the better. It's been a long time since I had any itty-bitties (mine are 15 and 16 right now)--but in my heart they are still little!
Have a beautiful and blessed Mother's Day.
Smiles, Karen

Just Between Us Girls said...

Dear Cheryl,
Your blog comments for Mother's Day are so thoughful and wonderful
Let me tell you as a mother of older children. It is all worth it and your children when they grow up will remember all those wonderful things you did for them and understand the sacrifices you have made and will then begin to watch over you ...truly a remarkable turn around which I enjoy daily.
Love and hugs to you a wonderful mother and friend. I am proud to know you.

Sarah said...

What a sweet post Cheryl! Happy Mothers Day to you! Hope it was a special day. Thanks for sharing!