All three of my children have now transitioned into adulthood, successfully outgrowing their need to have me cook their meals and kiss their booboos. What they may not realize is no matter how old they grow, they remain in the center of my heart, my universe. I never realized when I held my precious babies, that I would need them long past their need of me. They will always be my babies.
In my opinion, being a parent is the closest we mere humans can come to comprehending the expansive love of God for us. Just as I will love my children, no matter what choices they make or how independent they become, God never stops loving us.
Here are a few more stories from mother’s who celebrate the amazing blessing of being a mom.
I like to think that motherhood chose me, in the same way that our little bird chose us - that any other possible result out of the once-infinite possibilities is unfathomable. Out of all of those genetic combinations and re-combinations, she came together the only way she could have; likewise, my identity as a mother - her mother - is still forming, continually sliding into place like the tumblers of a lock catching a key. She surprised us, and consequently, motherhood chose me, but it’s a progression I’m still working through to fully accept it.
Distantly, peripherally, I’d observed other people have children, and by have, I mean they sort of just cropped up one day, to everyone’s excitement, with their 4x6 scrunched-up faces and bright first-smiles tacked next to the Christmas cards papering my parents’ front door. Of course, I’d seen the crisp pictures in my textbooks with the neat little arrows and the concise captions about protein regulators and hormone production and cell division. I’d been tested on all of it at least a few times. But the truth was, no matter how well I understood conceptually the stages of growth and how she progressed through the weeks and the purpose of the genetic screenings and other tests, I struggled to put all of that clinical knowledge together with the personal experiences. At the end, there was the birth. Of course. Obviously. Baby had to come out somehow, right? But it would be a baby. Our baby. A little person, all her own and every bit ours. We would be her parents. It was unbelievable.
The mystery consumed me. I spent nine months as The Pregnant One, listening to people reminisce about their relevant memories and offer advice that would mean nothing until we found ourselves desperately strapping our screaming newborn into her carseat for an early morning ride. I found myself slowly collecting webpages with DIY patterns for little dresses and healthy kid-friendly snacks. I obsessed over what she would be and look like, running the Punnett Square-probabilities over and over again in my head. I researched parenting styles and developmental milestones, but nowhere did I find an eHow on becoming a mother. Despite the defined processes by which this little human was growing, there was nothing to study for how to truly prepare myself for how to hold her, to talk to her, to love her unconditionally the way my mother had me. I was lost and concerned.
Looking back now, I think I expected more magic. I expected the pregnancy magic to hit me like it seemed to hit the members of the BabyCenter forums I often perused, and confer upon me the ability to “know best.” Instead, I felt like I could only relate to the intense cravings as anxiety and anticipation ate away at me, all centered around this mysterious emergence of a completely new person that I just as mysteriously grew and as equally mysteriously would need to know how to care for in an untold number of days. I was scared. Really scared. And that fear only grew as we called in to the maternity ward, the paperwork was signed, and the contractions intensified, until it peaked when the doctor said, “You’re complete! It’s time to push!”
I’d abandoned any hopes for the mythical, magical pregnancy and ideal birthing experience and about ten hours into labor, but those words took the confusion and terror to a whole new level because It was happening. I almost feel like I blinked, looked up at the ceiling, looked back down at the doctor, and she was on my chest, screeching and flailing and waiting for Dad to cut the cord. There was no epiphany, as I’d somehow half-expected; instead, there was this surge of feeling overwhelmed by love and amazement and pride. There were no dissertations or conference summaries or papers on being her mother, no blog posts or friendly advice or personal anecdotes that could have prepared me: just this little creature, covered in blood and mucous, like nothing I’d ever dreamt but everything I could have imagined, squirming on my chest and staring at me with her daddy’s eyes and my nose. And the best part is that that moment was only the beginning.
My name is Ranae & my biggest, greatest gift in life is the honor of being a mother to the most amazing kids anyone could EVER ask for. From the moment my sweet girl, Paris, came into my life, followed by my amazing son, Marcus, I never really knew what life meant. My whole world changed in an instant. I've been told that people have never seen how much a parent could love their child like I love mine. At first, I was shocked, as I felt that every parent should love their kids like I love mine. However, I've seen that's not the case and I'm so sorry for that. I've always told my kids , "I have one shot at this job & I have to do the best I can. I think I did okay...
I feel so blessed to be living my dream of being a mother and having the opportunity to stay home with my children. It is an opportunity not all parents are afforded, and while many parents choose working outside the home for personal, professional and financial reasons, I choose to stay home. Like many stay at home moms, I’m very employable and had a thriving career before my family grew by one, and then two children. People often question why someone would voluntarily leave a successful career and comfortable salary when there are so many varied childcare options available. This is such a personal choice, and is different for each family; but for me, I couldn’t cope with the stress of being away from my little ones for the vast majority of my days.
And it was more than that. I knew that (again this is very individual) I couldn’t give myself fully to my family or my career as long as I was splitting my time between both. I tried going back to work after my first son arrived. It worked out for a while, but eventually, one side of the equation was always suffering. And I was always suffering in the middle. Most parents, especially moms, face this struggle on some level – ultimately it’s about following the stronger pull, whether that’s money, family needs, personal satisfaction, etc.
Mothers working outside the home need advocacy and support for the challenges they face in the workplace, and stay home moms need the same support, respect, recognition and validation that they are doing something meaningful and important. In light of honoring stay at home moms, I’ve decided to highlight a few of the reasons why I feel staying home is the best gig there is.
1) Play: Sure, it can be exhausting to chase two busy kids around a zoo, playground or hiking trail, all while lugging sippy cups, snacks, diapers and a deserted tricycle. But, I get to play for ‘work’. The most important task of my day is to engage my children in exploring their world with their minds and bodies. We play, we go on adventures and we enjoy the outdoors. I’d gladly trade a day in the office for a day of changing diapers if it means I get to spend the bulk of my time having fun with my kids.
2) Involvement: Stay at home moms have the luxury – and I do feel it is a luxury – of being involved in their children’s daily lives, friendships and school. I keep my kids pretty active, and I’m the lucky one who gets to watch them learn how to swim, see their first somersault at gymnastics class and cheer from the sidelines at a weekday t-ball practice. I know their friends well, and have the time to chat with the pre-school teachers at drop off and pick up. I can help in the classroom and volunteer to bring snacks without having to make concessions in a work schedule to do so.
3) Variety: I’m a busy body, and I do not do well with being idle. The prospect of staying at home all day without any planned activities can sometimes cause me anxiety. And there are monotonous days when I feel a deep longing for adult life outside of my home. Definitely days when I miss my former job. But kids bring boundless variety. Each day brings a new development, milestone, conversation, opportunity for teaching and excitement. A child views each new day with hope and anticipation for what might happen. If you can immerse yourself in that way of thinking, each day at home with your children can be entertaining and stimulating for everyone.
4) Company: I don’t have to spend an entire day alone with a computer. I always have someone to talk to – and kids are much more capable of deep conversations than they are often given credit for. I’m needed and wanted every day, and though I’m much harder on myself in terms of expectations than any former ‘boss’ ever was, I’m removed from the drama that can come with workplace relationships. Plus, I get to meet other parents and spend afternoons with my best friends while our children play together.
5) Challenge: Learning how to discipline my children has been the most daunting aspect of parenting. I know what values I want ingrained in them, I know what my expectations are of them for social and familial behavior, I know that I want to be gentle and empathetic with them. But I tend to have no idea of how to achieve these things gracefully or even successfully. My husband and I work to find balance between parenting ‘tactics’ we’ve learned from books and experts with our natural parental instincts. Everyone knows parenting isn’t easy, but staying home all day and maintaining patience and calm day after day is the ultimate test. I appreciate the challenge. And while there have been countless times I’ve felt broken by it, staying home with my kids is teaching me to be a better person and to dig deep to uncover parts of myself I didn’t know were there. I’ve yet to experience a paying job that offers the same level of self discovery.