Motherhood is a cruel journey. It’s give and take. Highs and lows. Knowledge and ignorance. Joy and heartache. Laughter and tears. A roller coaster of emotions. Yet, still, motherhood is the greatest gift. What then don’t “they” tell you about motherhood?
Over 15 years ago, I remember being elated and totally freaked out at the same time about becoming a mom for the first time. Would I be a good mom? How would I handle all the things? Would my child be healthy? Would my child be smart? How do you even change a diaper? Yes, I was that mom who had never even changed a diaper. On top of all those thoughts and doubts, pile on the advice from loved ones and strangers.
If you are a mom, you no doubt, remember from the moment you announce your first pregnancy, the advice, often unsolicited, floods in. What to do, and what not to do, while pregnant. The breast feeding police. How to raise toddlers. All the things you should or should not be doing to discipline your children in the appropriate way. The schools they should go to. The things they should learn. The food they should eat.
Then there’s the “you’re gonna miss this” and “don’t blink” advice. The “days are long, but years are short” comments. All the hints of what’s to come.
But why, for the love, doesn’t anyone share the literal heartache you experience as your children grow and begin the process of becoming their own. Do people forget? Do they erase it from their memories? Motherhood is not all rainbows and cupcakes, people.
I’m gonna give it to you straight. There is nothing more heart filling, yet heart wrenching at the same time, than seeing a piece of your heart grow up and grow on. Cause that’s exactly what happens as your child hits the teenage years. It’s both fascinating and frightening to witness your offspring try to find their footing on independence.
The hardest part is biting your tongue when you want to remind them of just how much love you have for them. So much love that you can literally feel your heart about to burst at times. An indescribable, never-ceasing, sacrificial, powerful, limitless love. I mean, how do you explain that to your kid?
You want to retell all the sleepless nights caring for them, rocking them, nursing them, cuddling them and praying for them.
You want to reiterate the worry and anxiety over every decision made for them (minor and major).
You want to recount the 1000s of pages read to them, read about them and read for them.
You want to remind them of the clinging to your leg and following you to every room (read: can I please go to the bathroom in peace?) phase because they couldn’t fathom a world without you in it.
But, you don’t. You can’t. Because they won’t hear you. Right now they’re too busy to listen to you. They’re busy discovering who they are, spreading their wings, exploring new friendships, wondering how to make an impact in this world.
They’re too busy looking into their phones, following friends and navigating the stresses placed on teens in this crazy, modern world.
What they don’t know, and truly can’t understand until they become parents of their own, is the raw, heavy, dull aching you feel in your heart as you watch the distance between you and them stretch farther and farther away. As you try to distract yourself from counting down the years, summers, holidays & birthdays you have left with them under your roof, you reminisce on the moments when you were their whole world. You long for those days, but at the same time you watch from the sidelines with joyful pride at the person your little one has become.
Motherhood is a cruel journey. Here’s what people don’t often tell you about motherhood. In the beginning, you crave time to yourself and peace and quiet. As your children grow, they crave time to themselves and peace and quiet from you. You’d give anything for more connection and more time with them, just as their desires to disconnect grow stronger. It’s maddening in a way.
I think (& I pray) that the tides turn back again at some point in the future. I pray that we’ve given our children the guidance, skills, courage, mindset and knowledge to enter their adulthood with guidance from God and in a way that honors Him. I pray that they get to know a love as true as the love between a parent and a child. And I pray HARD that the tides turn them back to us throughout their adulthood knowing it will be different but still in some ways the same.
So, as I’m in the thick of the teen years with my daughter I must remind myself that I too, was once a teen girl who thought the world revolved around me and my friends. I too, was once too busy to stop to think about how my mom felt about my distancing from her. I too, loved my parents dearly, but failed to show it enough. And, eventually, I too, turned back in appreciation, the type of appreciation that only comes with maturity, with becoming a parent yourself, and a love and respect so deep that no force will separate.
Motherhood….they do not tell you, is not for the faint of heart. Prepare yourself now for the emotional ride that comes as your little ones start to flee the nest. It’s a doozy.
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