I spent five long years trying to become a mother.
And I’ve spent the last fifteen trying to be a good one.
Raising kids is probably the most important thing I will ever do. But I didn’t get educated in a classroom or with a how-to manual; I learned on the job and mostly by making mistakes. When they wheeled me and my new baby girl out of the hospital to join my husband who was pulling up the car, I remember hesitating and looking at the nurse nervously. She patted my back and whispered, “You will do fine.”
For our first hour at home as a family, we sat across the room and stared at her, while she slept in her carseat.
We were terrified she would wake up.
We were terrified she wouldn’t.
That sort of sums up my parenting experience so far–What if they do? What if they don’t? Will they? Should they?
I have second-guessed and been given second chances. I have marveled at all I didn’t know and been amazed at what I learn every day.
They didn’t tell me the sleepless nights of pregnancy were a foreshadowing of the next 18 years.
They didn’t tell me the deep-breathing was for more than birth.
They didn’t tell me about the first set of stitches or the second. Or that I would get woozy every time.
They didn’t tell me that I would want to give my kids everything, but that I mustn’t.
They didn’t tell me how hard it would be to say no, but I must.
They didn’t tell me I would watch my heart get on a school bus.
They didn’t tell me I would long for school to start as much as I long for it to end.
They didn’t tell me there would be math. Lots of math.
They didn’t tell me about the first time my child would hurt my feelings.
Or how angry I would feel when someone hurt my child’s.
They didn’t tell me how I would ache to fix their problems.
They didn’t tell me I would fall into bed physically exhausted when they were little and emotionally drained when they were older.
They didn’t tell me I would give up something I love, so they could figure out something to love.
They didn’t tell me I would yell.
They didn’t tell me I would laugh until my sides ache.
They didn’t tell me I would cry myself to sleep because of something they said or worse, because of something I said.
They didn’t tell me my son would call me in the middle of school today and ask to go home early because he is grieving his beloved archery coach’s terminal diagnosis.
They didn’t tell me I couldn’t make some things better. Or how badly I would hurt when my children do.
They didn’t tell me how hard some days would be.
They didn’t tell me how fast it would go…
They didm’ tell me how much I would love being their mom.
They didn’t tell me all these milestone and phases for one reason:
There is joy in discovering motherhood –the beautiful and broken days– for ourselves.
One day at a time.