It has been a nostalgia inducing weekend. It's a season of life change for us, so as we transition to the new, it has me thinking about the old. Thinking, dwelling, trying to sort it all out… I find the question of, 'How did we get from there to here' essential to process through as we hit each new age and stage of life. This particular weekend involved me reminiscing via Facebook, as I scrolled through the hundreds of mobile uploads I have shared over the years. This is how I got from then to now, and how I became myself along the way.
It's always disheartening to me, to hear stories and read articles about mothers who have "lost themselves" since having children. On one hand, I get it, infancy and toddlerhood are rough. No one sleeps, everyone poops, repeat. Finding time amidst the chaos to read a book, have a serious conversation, or engage in a hobby is rare. It's easy to become buried within the monotony of the tasks we have to do every day.
There were many years where this was true of me. However, looking back on the experience now that I have school aged children, I'm also very much aware of the fact that it was in those daily/hourly/minute by minute acts of care that I also found myself. Motherhood has pushed me to dig deeper and strive harder than any other station before it. In adult relationships, there's usually a give and take, but with children, actual sacrifice is required.
It was then, through that emptiness, that the true gifts of parenting began to emerge. I found that when I felt like I had nothing left, a providential bit of encouragement would appear. Supportive notes from friends on social media, the invitation for a play date, a timely phone call from a long lost friend all worked together to remind me that I wasn't in this alone. Not only was I not alone, I belonged to a band of women, a sisterhood of mothers who had gone before and those who will come after. There is such power in community, in knowing and being known.
Strength came from outside of our family, pressing love in on us, but I've also seen it build inter-relationally too, as the kids have grown. Their vibrant personalities are forming and they constantly test and seek to build their own sense of self. What they don't know, but I have discovered, is that through helping mold them, they have been shaping me. Coming up with answers to hundreds of Aurora's "why" questions has forced me to evaluate everything we do! Grayson's energy and need for physical connection constantly force me outside of my comfort zone as we race, wrestle, tickle and cuddle every day.
I even find myself pressing outward as I seek to expand the parameters of my own identity. It would be easy to take these early years off. It's certainly a challenge enough to find the time to shower, much less grow. For me, though, I'm thankful because the time constraints make me work harder for it. I'm forced to prioritize the time I need to read, journal, think, and that makes me cherish it all the more. Motherhood has taken my time, but given me the questions I needed to ask myself. I've been forced to confront my own selfishness in entirely new ways since having children, and because I've chosen to wrestle with it, I've grown.
I'm not the independent, confident, and strong woman I thought I was in my early 20's. Instead, I've discovered that dependence can be just as important. Being authentic opens up a whole new world of connections, and that web of friendship is much stronger than I ever was on my own. Overconfidence has given way to a form of meekness. There is much to be gained in humbling oneself to the point where you can say 'I don't know' or 'your way is better.' And finally, that hard facade of strength I carried as a young adult is slowly being replaced with real acknowledgement of my own brokenness and inadequacy. I don't have all of the answers, I fail a lot, but here, let's come alongside one another and walk this crooked path of motherhood together.
Despite my proclamations of its worth, I'm not the best at being vulnerable, in fact, if it were an Olympic sport, I wouldn't even qualify for the junior team. However, in an effort to practice what I preach, I wanted to take a moment to thank every other friend and parent out there who has partnered with me in this journey. Here's to the non-judgemental lady at the grocery store who had to walk around us while my son was throwing a tantrum, she didn't even bat an eye, just gave me a knowing smile and whispered "it gets better!"
Here's to my single and kid-less friends who come over 'just to hang out' and sneak in cuddles with my littles. You loving on them is loving on me, and I'm so thankful they have you in their lives. To my fellow mamas, you know that the struggle is real. You keep the wine and laughter flowing as we share our daily anecdotes and routinely wonder together whether it's possible to be any more tired than we are, thanks for the encouragement.
Here's to my mom friends who are old enough to be my mom. You've raised your little fledglings and now you’re investing your time with me and my flock. I so appreciate your wisdom. To my mom and mother-in-law, thanks for loving on your grandchildren so well, I’m so grateful that you prize your time with them, and often help to remind me that motherhood is a gift, not a chore.
And lastly, here's to Grayson and Aurora, thanks for loving me, in spite of me. You guys don't have a perfect mom, no where close, but you act like I know everything, and that’s a really nice confidence boost most of the time! You guys are definitely helping to shape me into the person I’d like to become. Someone who is able to radiate love because of the love she has been shown. Together we are living out a replication of the greatest story ever told, and there’s no one I’d rather be on this journey with.