Today has kicked me in the butt.
I only curled half of my hair.
I drank a Red Bull before 7:15 a.m.
I fell asleep on the floor after saying my morning prayers.
My kid ate Play-Doh.
My other one went down for a nap with leaves in her hair.
We have watched an undisclosed number of Daniel Tiger episodes.
Lincoln is teething and it’s a hot, wet, mess.
No, it’s not my best day.
If I’m being totally honest though, it’s just a day. This. Is. Motherhood.
Sadly, I see so many mothers (myself included) view themselves through the lens of their worst moments, their worth overshadowed by the “should haves” of the dog days of motherhood. I’ve written many times about the backstabbing nature of social media. It can be a great way to connect with a tribe of other strong, courageous mothers. But it can turn on you in a heartbeat, selling you fabricated half-truths of the chasm between your imperfection and your friends seeming perfection.
Motherhood is a war with the mind. At least for me, anyway. Maybe it’s because of my mental illnesses. (If you’re new around here, I’ve always struggled with crippling anxiety and depression.) Maybe it’s the margin of error in which I operate as a mother. But maybe, and this is a poignant maybe, maybe this is just part of the gig.
It’s the constant worry of am I teaching correct habits? Am I setting a good example? Did they eat enough vegetables? Did they eat enough, period?!
It’s the battle between anger and contentment. I struggle especially with this. It’s a constant pull of emotions throughout the day as again and again my patience is put through the gauntlet.
It’s the battle of a new reality.
I’ve talked with a lot of new mothers in the three short years of being one myself. Inevitably, our conversations always turn to our prenatal unrealistic expectations of motherhood — and how nobody every talks about them.
Motherhood can be a highly romanticized concept. Before I became a mother, sure I was filled with innumerable fears, but I also dreamed of pure, unfiltered joy, streaming into my life like the rays of the sun, warming my crusty, cynical soul.
Well, ok. To be fair, those moments have happened. Holding my newly born babe, sticky and purple from birth against my bare chest. That’s a moment of perfection that is unparalleled for me.
Yet somehow, though illogical, I thought it would be mostly made of moments of this pure bliss. I clearly don’t watch enough sitcoms. Instead, I found myself a new mother wondering what they heck I was supposed to do all day, why did my boobs hurt so much all the time, and will I ever sleep again??
Then came the toddler phase and I have never thought such a steady stream of profanities in my life than during some epic tantrums ranging in location from an airport terminal to the Madison Public Library.
Then enter in newborn #2. And repeat.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being a mother. But it’s hard. Like bench pressing a large boulder hard.
But all these moments — ok, maybe not the airport meltdown — are the ones I now look back on with a tenderness and fondness. They are precious to me because they are the raw moments of my motherhood. My trial and error. My pleading for guidance. My pleading for a break.
Motherhood is messy. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and there’s a lot more snot than I expected.
In a word, it’s not very graceful. Or rather, I’m not very graceful as I try to navigate my way through it.
And for that, I am eternally grateful.
Because just when I’m at my most ungraceful. My most messy. My most raw. My most helpless, cue the Savior of All Mankind.
He steps in and carries me as I rock my poor teething baby, unsure if I can keep going for the rest of the day because it’s only 10:17 a.m.?!
He whispers guidance to my mind through the Holy Ghost as I plead for his help navigating my daughter’s strong will.
He wraps me in the arms of His redeeming love. His grace, made possible through his infinite atoning sacrifice, makes me the mother I want to be. Not that he transforms my efforts into Pinterest Perfect displays of creativity. He doesn’t make my kids sit quietly in church, or not pick their nose, or stop pushing their brother.
He transforms my heart so that suddenly, the lens in which I’m viewing my life is crystal clear to my failures but more importantly to my moments of being absolutely and completely enough.
The Savior is what makes my meager offering of motherhood meaningful.
The Savior is my everything. Because He gave me everything.
And it was today, swiveling in an office chair, begging sweet Lincoln to stop yelling with Bellamy screaming in protestation of her nap in the room next door, that the grace streamed through my proverbial window like a warm ray of sunlight.
“This is so hard,” I thought to myself, catching a glimpse of the Hefty bags underneath my eyes in the mirror across the room.
Then, as if on cue, Lincoln settled down and snuggled into my chest again like he did that perfect day he was born.
My stress and frustration melted away. The chaos of the morning didn’t matter. These moments are the ones to cherish and remember. Snuggling my baby, calming his troubled heart.
Holding him just as Christ holds me.
This is motherhood.