I took a week off and didn't even mean to. Janey was a fussy short-nap teething baby, and then I had a wonderful bout of mastitis, and if you don't know what that is, consider yourself lucky.
Oh, motherhood. It's wonderful but it's not always easy. I often feel pulled in a thousand directions. I remember a precious letter my grandmother, a mother of nine, sent to my mom, a mother of five that said exactly that. It was wonderful to know that my grandmother felt the same, felt like we all do-that we are doing our best, day in and day out but still always have a pull to do better.
And I loved this essay I read recently about stay at home moms. I absolutely loved it. To me it's a love letter written to his wife and his children.
This is my favorite part of the article by Matt Walsh:
"Yes, my wife is JUST a mother. JUST. She JUST brings forth life into the universe, and she JUST shapes and molds and raises those lives. She JUST manages, directs and maintains the workings of the household, while caring for children who JUST rely on her for everything. She JUST teaches our twins how to be human beings, and, as they grow, she will JUST train them in all things, from morals, to manners, to the ABC’s, to hygiene, etc. She is JUST my spiritual foundation and the rock on which our family is built. She is JUST everything to everyone. And society would JUST fall apart at the seams if she, and her fellow moms, failed in any of the tasks I outlined."
It's weeks like I had last week that make me all the more aware of how much I am needed here. I've written about it before, but I have to say it again. It's not the easy fun weeks of motherhood that make it all worth it. It's not seeing the baby's first steps, or spending a beautiful day outside at the park for an hour, or the loving hugs or sweet kisses.
It's the hard stuff. It's the fussy baby that makes me feel like my head might explode. It's the diaper doozies-the ones that require a bath, only because that tiny twenty five pound baby is so strong in her insistence to do flips on the changing table that I can't get clean what I need to get clean. It's the intimacy of even changing a diaper and wiping private parts clean. It's doing that twice or three times (or more!) a day.
I want it to be ME. It MUST be me. My head feels a hormonal buzzing noise when she whines that makes me go pick her up, no matter how tired I am, no matter how annoyed that whining combined with the need to hold her while I get other things done makes me feel, no matter how sore my arm, or how exhausted or sick I am.
I want her to know that even when she is smellier than what a human nose is supposed to be able to handle, I adore her so much, I will change her lovingly as many times a day as it takes and as soon as possible. She deserves to feel loved every moment, especially in these moments. All babies deserve that.
I remember long ago someone asked me what I tell my oldest daughter about pursuing her education, combining a career and mothering, balancing life.
Really the answer to that question doesn't just apply to my daughter (daughters now)-I could possibly be blessed with four daughter-in-laws that will raise my grandchildren too. And my sons and sons-in-law have just as much a part in parenting also.
I can tell you this-more than anything else in the world, I want them all-my sons, my daughters, my son-in-laws and my daughter-in-laws, to be intentional thoughtful present parents.
I want them to be able to have the courage and intelligence to take a step back and see life with a wide angle. To not fall in line with the rat race of materialism but look and see the beauty of life and the gift, the incredible gift, of parenthood-to know what is really really important and beautiful and true. I want them to question the main stream, and try not fall prey to the lies that bombard us every day and lead us astray. I want them to know that all that the society rewards us for, is almost always never what deserves an accolade, and the quiet work of caring for a family and being a responsible member of the universe usually never gets a write up.
Really, I want them to not need rewards. I want them to be able to be still. To be patient. To trust. To wait. To have faith that living with pure intentions will bring a reward that none of us can ever imagine. That's essentially what parenting is about down to the core.
I want them to not be afraid to make big sacrifices of time and money. I want them to know the importance of being financially responsible and cautious always, because in today's world it is not just a trait to be had but a necessity. I want my daughters and sons and their spouses to work together to put parenthood first always and to use their gifts and talents and creativity and intelligence and perseverance to make that happen. I want them to know the real meaning of wealth.
I want them to have knowledge, book knowledge and field experience, in infant and child development. I want them to see how very very much a baby needs his parents present, and that there is no substitute caregiver that can match a parent's level of care. I want them to always consider the true needs of their babies, their toddlers, their children first, and to recognize that they are their children's only and best advocates. I want them to know they are utterly undeniably essential every day to their children. I want them to know this so much that they can easily dismiss any suggestion otherwise.
I want them to know love and selflessness and intention and patience is involved in parenthood and that same care given by a parent can never ever be replicated by anyone else.
I want my sons and daughters to know they can be different kinds of dads and moms but I want them more than anything to be present. To be smart enough to know it's impossible to be two places at once, and choices and compromises will have to be made day by day, year by year, decade by decade, to make that happen between them. I want them to know that what ever kind of moms or dads they are, being present is what matters. Being present is everything. That they are enough as they are. They are what their child needs, just as they are, strengths and weaknesses, flaws and all, always, day in and day out.
It might, it will, require some sacrifice. All different kinds, not just monetary. Sacrifice, yes! It's not a bad word. It's a beautiful word. If we are lucky life is long, and there is time to do everything we want to do, but babies grow fast and children grow faster, and on our death beds I doubt we think of money, fame, or even accomplishments as worthy as they may be. We think of the time we spent with our loved ones.
I want my children, in their role as parents, to know they were each born with incredible maternal and paternal instincts and not be afraid to feel those, or ever feel like they have to tame them and tamper them or deny them. I know this task will sometimes seems effortless and sometimes it seems so daunting it will scare them to death.
I want them to know their worth as parents deeply, internally, unquestionably.