Celebrating motherhood

22nd Aug 2019

In the midst of National Breastfeeding Month, let’s talk a bit about the actual realities of mom life. For me, some of the highest moments of my life have come courtesy of my kids… and also some of the lowest. (If I were to write the story of my motherhood experience so far, it would start out: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…)

We asked some other mamas to get candid about their experiences as well, and this is what they said:

What is one of your favorite things about being a mom?

I love the connection that I have with my child. It's different than a sibling connection or a spouse connection. We can talk about anything and even when we fight, we know that ultimately, we love each other and we forgive each other right away. Judy (1 child, age 14)

My favorite thing about being a mom is all the love my kids have to give. It amazes me every day that they find ways to be kind and can fix a problem with a heartfelt talk and snuggles. I admire them for how simple it can be to just give and accept that kind of love.
Lyndsay (2 kids, ages 11 and 9)

I never tire of watching my daughter learn new things and develop into herself. She’s constantly evolving and even though it’s not always a smooth ride, it’s the best journey I’ve ever been on. Emily (1 child, age 7)

One of my favorite things about being a mom is watching them learn and grow right before your eyes. And that I get to a part of the process and experience the joys is really incredible.
Lyndsey (2 kids, ages 5 and 3)

One of the favorite things about being a mom for me was experiencing a depth of love I never knew existed. And seeing the wonder in a child’s eyes and when they discovered something for the first time. Denise (3 kids, ages 43, 40, and one that passed away at age 32)

One of my favorite things has been - and continues to be - watching them become their own person. It is always amazing to see this being that we created someone so different from me. I love learning their thoughts on things, seeing their giftings, talents and interests that can be so different from mine. I learn so much! Ali (4 kids, ages 22, 20, 18 and 16)

Experiencing unconditional love. Carol (2 kids, ages 23 and 21)

One of my favorite things about being a mom is adventuring. We travel a lot with our four kids and I love seeing them see new things. It doesn't have to be something grandiose- learning how to navigate a hotel continental breakfast with confidence was a recent mini milestone. Or, we got lost for hours on a hike last summer and really learned to rely on each other and not melt down (myself included!). It is a memory that we look back on with pride because we made it. Meg (4 kids, ages 7, 5, 5, and 1)

My favorite thing was enjoying the journey of their growth and seeing my children come to love and serve Jesus and others around them. I learned with and from both of our sons. We filled our home with much conversation and laughter. Anne (2 kids, ages 30 and 27)

What is something that surprised you about being a mom?

I never imagined how quick the time would go. The saying "the days are long, but years are short" is perfectly fitting. When you are in the throws of motherhood, it seems that the day will never end, yet before you know it, your child is taller than you and turning into an adult themselves. Judy (1 child, age 14)

Something surprising to me was how much parenting brought out a vain of perfectionism that leads to anger. I always thought I’d be teaching my kids self regulation, but I had no idea how much of a journey of my own self regulation/ discovery would have to take place. Lyndsey (2 kids, ages 5 and 3)

I always say that despite having 4 children, I felt like a first time mom every time. They all were so different that often I couldn't rely on previous knowledge for guidance. Not true in everything, but more than I expected. I think about sleep patterns as infants, potty training!!!, and discipline as examples. Ali (4 kids, ages 22, 20, 18 and 16)

I was surprised by how much it hurts when you can’t protect your children from the hurtful things in life. And how much children are influenced by their peers and school. Denise (3 kids, ages 43, 40, and one that passed away at age 32)

What surprises me the most is how being a mother has shown me that slowing down and being in the moment is always the right choice. It’s easy to get robotic with schedules and activities but the stress can be just so overwhelming. I didn’t think I could be a good mom without giving them all these things to do but that’s not really what they needed after all. Lyndsay (2 kids, ages 11 and 9)

I hated potty training!!!! [I was a teacher before having children, but] I was a much better teacher and friend AFTER becoming a parent than beforehand. Anne (2 kids, ages 30 and 27)

Honestly I was surprised at how hard it is physically and emotionally - it’s literally exhausting and that doesn’t end when infancy ends. People always tell you how amazing being a mom is and admonish you to take in every moment because in the blink of an eye they’ll be grown. I have definitely basked in moments that I wished would never end but I’ve had my fair share of moments that seemed like an eternity too. No one seems to be honest about the reality of motherhood: mommin’ it ain’t easy.
Emily (1 child, age 7)

That children are biologically who they are, and not always so much a result of how they are raised. Carol (2 kids, ages 23 and 21)

Something that surprised me is that I could lose my temper so quickly and to such a high level. I think I thought I would be some type of super mom. As a counselor by education I thought I would be therapeutic all the time...but I can lose my cool like anyone else. Meg (4 kids, ages 7, 5, 5, and 1)

Did you receive any advice or encouragement that has helped you along the way? (Or is there anything you’d like to pass along to another mama who may be struggling?)

I think cliche's are cliche's for a reason - and my favorite is "this too shall pass" - no matter what it is from late night diaper changes to teething to teenage angst.... this too shall pass. Whatever it is that is hard - it only lasts for a short time. And in the grand scheme of things, you really remember the good stuff - so don't sweat the small things - they pass, they change, they get easier. Motherhood is the hardest job you'll ever have, and the most rewarding. Judy (1 child, age 14)

Some classic encouragement but all held true for me- 1. As infants, nap when they nap (so important for sanity!!). 2. The days may be long but the years are short. 3. I also believe in the power of prayer. God has provided wisdom, peace and direction for me. Ali (4 kids, ages 22, 20, 18 and 16)

My pediatrician told me that children who are very active are usually very bright. That insight helped me when I was struggling with my son who was insanely active (aka - wild child) when he was young. Carol (2 kids, ages 23 and 21)

I mostly experienced criticism more than encouragement. The only thing I can say is don’t blink they grow up so fast. You won’t miss the things that bother you now. Denise (3 kids, ages 43, 40, and one that passed away at 32)

We are inundated with information from friends, family, physicians and media sources about how to best care for our babes and that can be an overwhelming burden of pressure. After feeling that stress myself and struggling with post-partum depression I realized that it doesn’t matter if you feed your kids organic cereal or Cheerios - if momma ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy and happiness and health/well-being truly go hand in hand. Don’t burden yourself with what someone else says is best. What has worked for one mom might be a complete disaster for your family. That’s not a failure that’s just life. Do more of what works for you and your babes and you’ll be just fine. Emily (1 child, age 7)

The best advice is to not be too hard on yourself as a mom. Everyone’s idea of a family is different. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I think that’s a Theodore Roosevelt quote.
Lyndsay (2 kids, ages 11 and 9)

Be authentic with friends and have friends in every season of life. Everyone has regrets. Pray for the Lord to cover those mistakes and allow much laughter and grace in your home without compromising solid teaching. Focus on character (those things that will matter 5 years from now). Be intentional and listen. Today we are more torn with technology than when I raised my sons. Have time to tune into your children and unplug from the world daily! My momma and daddy said often, “enjoy every stage at every age - they all pass so quickly.” Anne (2 kids, ages 30 and 27)

Parenting advice...it can range the gamut. I've gotten tons thats not helpful, or just not our style. I think the best advice I've gotten is the advice I've solicited from older moms who I know share our values and parenting style. I respect them, and what they have to say. Find those moms. You need them. Advice I would give? You just have to live it. The things I messed up or was anxious about with my oldest, I wasn't with the next three. But no one telling me "don't worry" would have changed that season. I just needed to gain my footing and gain confidence in myself. Meg (4 kids, ages 7, 5, 5, and 1)

If I could give any advice, it would be to be confident in your role, and not to worry about the “am I doing this right” or “what do others think of me?” Comparison is the thief of joy. It goes by so fast, you might as well stop worrying and start enjoying! Lyndsey (2 kids, ages 5 and 3)

I really do think that being a parent is the hardest but most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I’m so thankful for my tribe of other mamas that I can be completely real with about my fears, doubts, concerns, and struggles. What has been your momming experience? Highs? Lows? Anything you wish you knew in hindsight, or would do differently?

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash