When Justina (http://makingmum.blogspot.fr/) invited moms from the SMB group to reflect and share how motherhood has changed us, I was hesitant to answer the call to contribute a guest post for her blog. I mean, motherhood has changed me in so many ways. There’s the lack of sleep, the ability to swallow food whole, and the power of holding everything in, if you know what I mean – from your own pee to the frustration of being driven up the wall the 95th time. And then there’s the I-became-a-more-efficient-and-competent-person kind of change. At least for me, I have bragging rights of being able to nurse an infant, sing lullabies to my toddlers and use my toes to scroll the iPad to read my e-magazine, all at the same time. Motherhood has helped me discover powers I never knew I had, such as the untapped potential of using my toes and elbows to perform many a circus act every day.
Nevertheless, I eventually decided to take up the challenge to do a little bit more reflecting. Three years as a mom is no mean feat. I know I have indeed changed. Perhaps this opportunity to reflect would help me discover what it means to be a mother and who I’ve become today, and to give me a clearer direction on how to soldier on this challenging journey.
And it did. Justina featured me in her blog today. You can read the entry here and join us as we celebrate a month of motherhood. You can also hop around her blog to read other posts by mothers whose lives have been radically changed by just being moms. [Thanks, Jus, for the opportunity].
This post is my most honest piece yet.
Before I became a mother, I was a prissy, stuck-up, pain in the ass. I had an attitude. I thought the world of myself and very little of others. I was driven, demanding, and a no-nonsense kind of person.
I did some things I was proud of: I wake-boarded; I scuba-dived. As an undergraduate, I worked at a prestigious lifestyle mag and interned at a dive magazine. My boss sent me to Australia to market his magazine at a dive symposium. I shook hands with cool people from the diving circle. When I got married, I went backpacking with the husband. We travelled to Italy, Vienna, Czech Republic and Hungary. We explored quaint towns, and stayed with the locals and at youth hostels. We made friends from all over the world over beer, coffee and goulash.
I’d like to think I was pretty accomplished before I had kids.
Today, I no longer dive, wakeboard or backpack. I bake. And cook. I change poopy diapers, clean mucous and sing lullabies. Along the motherhood journey, I’ve lost my cool, blown my top, terrified the galls out of them, complained, murmured, and done all of the above on a repeated basis. I’ve failed too many tests of endurance and the willingness to sacrifice. Along the way, I have also crushed them with some of the most horrid things I’ve ever said, and treated them way too impatiently, emotionally and unfairly. In short, of the three years of being mom, I’ve made quite a mess of the whole process.
But I’ve also watched, as the days go by, how my heart is slowly transformed by just being my children’s mother in the everyday. I’d like to think that having gone through three pregnancies, three deliveries and now, mothering three very different, but unique individuals, motherhood has changed me for the better. In the good and the bad of everyday parenting, my children have molded my heart and invited me to experience God in ways deeper than I’ve ever imagined.
Being a mother has taught me that it’s ok to make a mess. I’ve learned to admit my mistakes, deal with my guilt and move on; more quickly and steadily than before I was a mom. I learned that children can be very forgiving. And above all else, I’ve learned that God the Father extends his forgiveness and love ever more readily to me now. He stops me from beating myself up, takes me into His loving arms and tells me “Liz, it’s ok”.
Being a mother has taught me to draw parameters for my anger and to pursue love at all cost. To channel my emotional energy at the right places, for the right things and towards the right people. It’s impossible to be a parent without feeling a host of intense emotions, but it’s definitely possible to lean on His grace to handle the trickier ones. Best of all, God has shown me that as my Heavenly Father, He has pursued me with love at all cost. And as a mother, I have the best example to follow and model after.
Being a mother has taught me what really matters in life. All of a sudden, when you become a mother, you possess the amazing ability to differentiate between futility and priority. I began to realize that life is brief, and that there remains the absolute need to live for the now and to leave an influence and impact so great for my children for the future. So I learned to be more efficient to exchange for more time with them. I learned that character matters. Imparting values matters. Being a better me matters. Ben making funny sounds with his tongue does not. Becks kicking off her shoes in the car does not. The kids making a paper cut-out mess and flinging shreds and gravel from the fish tank into their baby brother’s cot does not. In the grander scheme of things, even though they may be annoying, it’s just futility to be sweating the small stuff.
And last of all, being a mother has taught me to see the beauty in the small things. Where once upon a time I was a way-too-busy-to-smell-the-roses kind of person, today, I’ll give anything to kiss my children’s little feet, stroke their hair and put my finger in their tiny hands. They’ve taught me to stop, take a deep breath, and listen to the ambient sounds: that little sigh, that gurgling chuckle, that inaudible whimper. I’ll put my nose close to Nat’s mouth just so I can take in the smell of his baby breath. I’ll whisper into Ben’s ear just to see him wriggle away, tickled and laughing. And I would peck Becks on her chubby cheek just to watch her break into a coy little grin. I learned that I am mother and I am not too busy to enjoy my children.
In motherhood, I’ve learned to lose my attitude. That attitude. I don’t think I’m so prissy and stuck-up anymore, although it’s really still a journey and I’m very much a piece of work-in-progress. But I wouldn’t change anything. Without my kids, I wouldn’t be who I am today; and I am happier to be me now than me then.
How has motherhood changed me? My children have cut me open. That has allowed God to do something to my heart. They’ve added a profound dimension to my life in which I will continue to discover as long as I am their mother.
Motherhood has made me a better person.