I’ll let you in on a little secret I have learned. It doesn’t matter if you are a mother who works outside of the home or one that spends every waking hour with your children. All mothers struggle with finding their value.
In fact, every individual desperately desires significance and we often look for that in all the wrong places before ideally understanding our purpose.
Life circumstances, divine intervention and the financial reality that my husband and I will most likely have three children in college over a span of TEN years, has resulted in a major life change for us. Mama is going back to paid work! In fact, I start TOMORROW. Fortunately, I thrive on change and I’ll be resuming career work in a field that I thoroughly enjoy. However, regardless of job status, my “value” remains unchanged.
Interestingly enough, when my oldest two were little and I worked outside of the home, I always felt guilty for being away from them so much. Ironically, for the first three years of being with them full-time and adding on a third kid, I felt guilt for not contributing financially and frustrated with having little tangible goal achievement. In either role, I had a hard time determining my value. For the last three years, I found contentment in my role and changed my mindset. Now that my daily duties are changing again, I now know that my value is steadfast.
If you are a mother struggling to find your value in whatever season of life you are in, I share these three truths on motherhood that I have learned.
1. Our purpose as mothers is to love our children
It’s quality time not quantity. When we are with them, make the time count. Play with them, make lasting memories, meet their daily needs, allow them to grow up in the healthiest family environment you can provide and show them the discipline when they need it.
Also, when you have bad days and feel you have accomplished no loving of any kind, then that means you are normal.
2. Our purpose as mothers is to communicate with our children
This one is particularly tough. Why can’t they all be the same and why are we always tired, right? Of my three kids, one tends to keep emotions bottled in, the other won’t stop talking and the third tends to want to have heart to heart discussions right at bedtime after he has stalled for forty five minutes and I’m about to drop from exhaustion.
As they get older and spend more time at school and with friends more than they do with us, we have to make the increasingly limited one on one time intentional, introspective and investigative. Regardless of our employment status, there is the certain reality that our influence and talk time will become less but diligently working to communicate a safe and honest open door policy is a must.
3. Our purpose as mothers is to provide for our children
Whether that means through food on the table, a trip to the park, college funds, our limited free hours spent at their extracurriculars, etc., mothers make it happen.
Learning and accepting our value as mothers is a process and it isn’t how much money we can save for or spend on them. Nor is it how many awards our children can accumulate. Value also isn’t necessarily defined if our children choose to make the right choices 100% of their adult lives because at some point they become accountable for their own actions.
What mother is perfect? None. What mother tries their best? Most. What mother has value in what they do and who they are? ALL.
As I return back to career work tomorrow, I take these truths with me and believe myself to be a better mother and employee. When mothers are at work, we’ve got this, because we can juggle chaos 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. When mothers are at home, we’ve got this, because we know that loving our family means putting the family unit first when we are together.
Mothers are imperfect, yet perfection in our own unique way.
Do what you do and how you do it mama because the value of motherhood is priceless.
It was a phenomenal stage in our married universe. At this point in our lives, the baby daddy and I were both working very fulfilling jobs and volunteer roles, our firstborn was around 18 months old and we had a respectable amount of quality together time going on. Other than our son not sleeping a full night by himself EVER, our bodies had somewhat adjusted to the new normal of functioning on MUCH less sleep.
Disclaimer: I’ve been subjected to the movie “Inside Out” (or what’s lovingly referred to as “The Pump” by my toddler) no less than twice a day for months. Disney movies plaque my illustrative brain these days. I am sorry OR you’re welcome!
I remember sitting at my computer desk one night in September 2007 and all of a sudden this wave of intense irritation consumed me. There was no logical trigger. No valid reason to make me want to verbally assault innocent civilians or throw the remote into a glass door. Maybe I was fed up with having to watch another PAINFULLY BORING, colossal waste of my time, webinar. Perhaps I was coming down with ANOTHER virus my child had brought home from daycare. (You know most parents stay sick the first several years of parenting small kids, right?)
Maybe there was that little red guy from “Inside Out” that had taken over the master control board in my brain. Uh oh. Yep. I was about to voice any and every irrational opinion I could drum up to the baby daddy in 2 minutes or less. My lips began to part and the words flew out like lava.
Consequently, the baby daddy, always the rational sort, said “What’s WRONG with you! Is it that time?”. Ugh…typical. The standard “go to” male comeback for a grumpy wife. Can’t a woman just be a heifer because she feels like it? What’s their excuse when they get short and sulky? It doesn’t start with a “P” and end with a “D” now does it?! Sheesh.
I sat there in that chair fuming for no reason. Apparently, “Disgust” took over because rational, highly opinionated thoughts began running interrupting the anger. “Ok, what date is it?” “You really shouldn’t have said that even though you are always right.” “Hmm…yep, it is a possibility. You should find that cheap test you got at the Dollar Tree. Seriously, WHY pay $20 for a pregnancy test when you can get one just as accurate for $1? First Response and EPT are way too proud of their ancient technology.”
That gave me short-term confidence that I wasn’t possessed by an evil entity and there was a legitimate reason for my temporary character shift. After only taking TWO tests this go around, the stick read “pregnant”. Or, in the case of the cheap dollar store test, there were two lines. Well alrighty! Here we go again!
The hubby and I called everyone. Mom cried…AGAIN.
I had to tell my boss. For many women, this is a nerve wracking event. Will he/she be mad since there will be two to three months lost in productivity? Will he/she completely change his/her tune for the worse? Fortunately, the conversation seemed to go well but I always felt I had to work harder pregnant than I did not pregnant. Something I completely put on myself. There was the line of thinking that I had to PROVE I was just as much an asset to the company knocked up or not. Furthermore, my fabulous partner had just relocated closer to family, which left me the sole worker in the territory. I knew my manager was stressing and I felt I needed to do everything I could to put him/her at ease that the work would get done and get done well.
I laugh at myself now because it was senseless to put that much pressure on a body that was working overtime to grow another human being. I worked up until a few days before the scheduled C-section and remember fervently washing baby girl clothes in Dreft the night before delivery.
Back to being knocked up! There were no food cravings that I can remember but more food aversions. I was a little wiser to the world of “things that can go wrong” and, consequently, worried more. All in all, the pregnancy was very similar to the first. EXCEPT for one thing.
You know how they say that two women can’t live in the same body? Well, guess what? TOTALLY ACCURATE, in my case anyway. I knew from the beginning that it was a girl. I had such a short fuse. It was nothing like the sheer giddiness I had with my first boy. For example, there was this one time that “Bailey the Geriatric Maltese” (although not so geriatric at the time) was having trouble with consuming a large snack that the baby daddy had generously shared with him off his plate. As a result, I drug my elephant body over to where he was and reached for the food, attempting to break it apart because I LOVED him so much.
Then, it came out of nowhere! What the what? The dog thought I was trying to STEAL his “precious” and whipped around and BIT ME. Drew blood, left marks, mama was FURIOUS! This guy showed up AGAIN.
I chased that poor dog all over the house and let him KNOW his mama DID NOT APPROVE. I remember my husband looking at me in shock and disbelief and saying “Dang babe. You ok?”. I screamed, “I am absolutely NOT okay! Do you see what he did?!” (showing him my bloody arm). Yeah, you better run buddy. DON’T even come barking up in my bedroom thinking you are sleeping in MY bed tonight!” Then, I marched over to that little snack that caused the insanity and threw it AWAY. Take that CUJO.
It was one of those moments you are embarrassed about later and you know you overreacted to. But STILL..don’t bite the hand that feeds you, especially the hand that is attached to a body that is with child and plagued with excessive estrogen levels.
Moving on to the main event. Because of my first pregnancy resulting in an emergency C-section, we opted for planned surgery this go around. There were a few things that stood out to me. First, my daughter had the most beautiful ROUND head, unlike her brother that emerged with an impressive cone head. Secondly, she had the cutest little dimple on her chin. A dimple that her mother, father, grandparents, nor any other member of EITHER side of the family shared. Mailman? Finally, girlfriend was the size of a small pony! Close to nine pounds and was a week early.
In addition, my doctor loves to talk while he is working because he is a gifted multi-tasker. After baby girl was getting prepared to go to the nursery, he was observing my innards and conducting a thorough inspection. I’ll never forget him saying “My dear, you have BEAUTIFUL anatomy. Really! Your scarring is minimal and everything is pink and healthy.” Say what? You have to picture the scene. I’m laid up on the OR table, arms strapped to the table, uterus on display and my voluptuous, post delivery body exposed for the world to see, nauseated, light headed and I can’t feel anything from my chest down. My response, “Thank you! I work out. In great shape. My six pack is to DIE for.”
Fortunately, there were no complications this go around, so we all returned back to the hospital room rather quickly. By the way, spinals make you itch like you bathed in poison ivy and then dried off with a towel of chiggers. 24 hours of intense fun. That is all.
Probably the sweetest moment for a mother with other children is the first moment your older child meets the new sibling for the first time. My son smothered baby girl in kisses. I especially adore this picture. Look at her little face! Classic.
Fortunately, my daughter is my one saving grace that I may be a decent mother with routine and disciplining. Or, maybe God sent her to us because he foresaw my “areas of improvement” I would always struggle to master. When I’ve spent a full day with my hard headed boys (who are gifted in their own unique ways), I mentally picture her on her best behavior for some comfort. For example, she is the only child that has slept through the night since birth (pending a nightmare here and there), organizes her things (although she could be classified as a high functioning HOARDER) and minds us the first time in most cases.
She is our introverted, sensitive, dramatic diva darling and enduring all that excess estrogen was completely worth the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” persona experienced while she was in my womb those lovely nine months. For the next four years, it would be man to man combat with our two offspring. Also, I’m pleased to report that his royal white fluffiness never bit his mama again. 🙂
I would also like to add that whoever came up with the following statement that goes something like “Going from one to two is the hardest but three or more is a breeze” is an ignorant fool and should be burned at the stake. But that’s another “Knocked Up” story for a different day.:)
The phenomenom of pregnancy and the pandemonium of parenting are beautiful chaos. As one of my good friend’s so wisely stated to me the other day, “Sometimes it’s more chaos than beauty but we are thankful for both”.