Sunday, November 14, 2010

sparkles and rainbows

for some women, motherhood seems to come very naturally. for others, it is a bit more challenging. although i never thought i would find complete and total fulfillment in the role of mother, i never expected it to be as hard as it is.

by the time i got married, i had eight nephews and one niece. i had been babysitting on my own since sixth grade and had even watched two of my nephews for a week, by myself at their house, when i was sixteen. so it's not like i had never been around kids, or only been around then in a "fun aunt" kind of role. i thought i knew what it was all about. while i didn't totally love all of my babysitting time, i enjoyed my nephews and loved them deeply and knew that i was a good caregiver.

but OH MY OH ME what a difference there is between being a caregiver for a day or even a week and being a full-time, always in demand, having to figure out what to do when your child is sick, or not napping, or not eating, or screaming for an hour... parent.

to be honest, i really struggle. this last month has been especially hard for me. my boys are totally awesome, but i often feel like i'm not the right mom for them. or for any kid for that matter. i read articles or blog posts of moms who talk about how their kids are like sunshine to their proverbial gardens. i used to beat myself up a lot about those things, and they still get to me, but for the most part, i realize they are either only choosing to focus on the positive or that maybe they have kids who are a little more laid back than my little beasties. i could paint a picture of purely motherly bliss if i wanted to.

"ahh, brotherly love." except that they were actually fighting and jockeying for space in the truck when i took this picture. and then max bit ben because ben kept smushing him.

or this one. a fun snack in the super cool fort that i made for them in the newly cleaned out upstairs. reality: feeling exhausted and knowing that ben would whine about any real dinner i made, i gave them popcorn, cheese, and pears while i laid on the floor and read a magazine. then max ruptured my spleen when he jumped on me because i wasn't paying attention and ben started to complain that he was going to throw up. he recovered, but was again bitten by max because max wanted the lego helmet that ben had. yes, brotherly love indeed.

some moments really are just wonderful and beautiful. but for every wonderful beautiful moment, i would honestly say i have an equal amount of moments where i can feel my blood pressure rising and i shout to myself, "what the frick frack is he doing!?"

i've been trying to remind myself that i'm a mother because it's my vocation and not because i'm looking for a fun filled joy ride of kisses and giggles. our culture is all about doing what you want, when you want, and i feel like children are becoming, for some, more like an accessory than a being with a soul, entrusted to be raised to know, love and serve Him.

but yowzas! this whole raising and teaching gig is hard. for me it is agony and ecstasy and a lot of in between. so much pain (emotional and physical) and frustration and so much beauty.

i'm glad i didn't fully comprehend what i was signing up for when i became a parent. i would certainly have locked my chastity belt, thrown away the key, and ran for the hills. but since there's no turning back, i'll just have to keep taking pictures of my cute boys and trying to block out what was really going on in the picture.

i keep trying to explain to them that unless they tone it down, they will not have any other brothers or sisters. (ben makes frequent requests.) i think max wants to stay the baby of the family because i swear he keeps kicking it up a notch.


  1. Oh, Mary, I LIKE this post!! Such a great view of REALITY. Raising kids is HARD WORK!! And we are definitely not in for ourselves (although we do reap great benefit - such as learning to be un-selfish - I think that is why God is blessing us with so many kids - I am slow learner). I get so frustrated when people act all sympathetic to me (“gosh it must be so difficult for you with all these kids”) because yes, it is VERY difficult, but I feel as if I can’t agree with them because I need to speak up for how great children are and what a blessing it is to bring more of them into the world!! So, I don’t want to lie, but I feel the need to be constantly defending our choice to receive these blessings from God – and to continue to be blessed.

    In any case, in my humble opinion I say, cut yourself some slack. You are a MUCH better mommy than you think you are and kids are MUCH more resilient than you think they are (thank goodness, I say). And I am with you on the struggle – all the way. On my tombstone, it is going to say “she tried.” Because if nothing else, that is what I do all day every day, I get up and try my darnedest to do what I think a good mommy should do. Am I successful? Often, no, but I sure do try and try and try something else, or try some more, oh yes, I try. And I think it was Mother Theresa who said that God does not call us to be successful, but to be faithful – to keep trying (I could be wrong on the credit for this concept, but it could probably be attributed to the majority of the saints you know – it sounds like something a saint would say – or something you would read in one of those devotional books full of great insight but no practical application :)

    And to give an example of what a good mommy you are, you fed your kids pears for their supper-snack. Feeding a fruit or veggie to your kids automatically gives you 10 extra good-mommy-points. And then taking a minute to read a magazine is recharge time for you (what keeps you “somewhat” sane and from being the yelling, temper-losing momma we all fear lives deep down inside us).

    Keep up the good work and thank you for sharing your thoughts (and cute pics of your kids :)


  2. amen amen i say to you, raising children is frick-frackin' hard.

  3. "pictures of my cute boys and trying to block out what was really going on in the picture."
    This made me laugh! I think that too! I wonder what he will think when he sees the pictures when he is older, will he think wonderful thoughts or remember exactly what was going on. when I want to say Frick Frackin, I scream "FABULOUS!" it is such a powerful word used in such a way and freeing.

  4. I tend not to blog when life sucks. Hence a conspicuous absence of blogging from December to Marchish last year. When I do it, it feels like I am wallowing in self pity. I figure that no one wants to hear me say how much I miss the mountains a gazillion times (people tend to take this personally and I try to avoid it) and how my kids wear me out. I am not purposely hiding it, it just usually makes me feel ungrateful for all the good things I *do* have. That said, I don't mind when other people do share their bad days.

    I think some seasons of motherhood are just more challenging (ie. suckier) than others. I was reflecting on this this morning. From about the time that Isaac was born, until just recently I was on survival parenting mode for a while. I mean, there were times when it improved for a few months at a time, but really, I was mostly just hanging on for the ride. Being the primary caretaker for small children (read: under 6) all day, every day is hard. Brutal even. And some are unrulier than others. And as much as we love our littles, sometimes parents and kids personalities clash. I am thankful that I have not yet had a child as neurotic and uptight as I was when I was young.

    Someday you will realize you are no longer in survival parenting mode. Max will stop upping the ante. But until then, you always have family and friends (marneys!) to hang out with :)

  5. thanks for the kind words ladies. they are water for my parched spirit when i need them.

  6. All I can say is "glad I'm not the only one". Seriously, you are not alone in this. Actually, you are a notch up on me because you LIKED baby-sitting before having children. I never cared for it so never really did it and then BAM! Parenthood is here!!! I have two boys who are just as evil as they are charming. Each day brings new things. Always.