Monday, January 9, 2012

Reflections on a year of motherhood

I've been thinking about this post for some time. Tomorrow my little boy will cross the threshold of months to years. Suddenly he's thrown into classifications of toddlers rather than babies and suddenly I feel as if a whole new set of joys and challenges are about to unfold.

A couple things happened tonight that made me stop and think about this past year of  mothering. For starters, Brennan was sitting on the couch telling Hyrum the story about his birth, a story that often fills me with feelings of anticipation, emptiness, and failure. Then I came across a friend's blog post about a certain book that was a part of a lot of turmoil in my early days of motherhood and a new flood of emotions emerged--guilt and frustration being the main themes.

So frequently these are the things that I think of when I think of my failings as a mother. The moments I try to sweep under the rug and pretend like they're not really there. But like the dust under the rug, it's there, and sooner or later I've got to deal with it.

Maybe this is the exact moment to do so.

I'm not a failure, even though the little voice inside of my head seems to whisper it at least once a day. The moment where I realize that I fed Hyrum toast and an orange--but no vegetables (gasp!)--for lunch. The moment where, because I'm feeling ill, I let him watch Curious George on the television in hopes of getting a few moments to rest on the couch. The moment where I question if in my resolve to never let him cry to sleep, I've destroyed his sleep habits for life. The moment where I wonder if those five minutes of crying have removed his trust in me. The moment where I can't seem to figure out if I'm giving him too little or too much attention, too little or too much love, too little or too much _______.

That blasted voice. I don't like it. And it's not me.

I'm a mother. I love my child. I want everything in the world for him and darn it, I've done a great job, no matter what the voice in my head thinks.

And so I started thinking about all of those absolutely wonderful moments. Those moments that nothing bad can touch. Those moments that live on in your memory as the pat on the back, the sigh of relief, and the reminders that not only am I doing this thing called motherhood, but I'm actually doing a pretty good job at it.

In my personal journey, here are a few of those moments.
  • The first time I held this precious child and knew that he was mine.
  • The first time I admitted to missing the feeling of being pregnant, to have that life--Hyrum's life--inside of me in such a physical and emotional way.
  • The day(s) I finished my recital/oral exam/comprehensive exam/paper/etc., not in spite of having a newborn, but because I wanted to set an example for him of finishing what I started. The first of many experiences in which I realized that my life was more than my own, it was a legacy for my children.
  • The first night I brought Hyrum to bed with me. That night and for and many nights afterwards, I fell in love with the feeling of a of a sleeping child resting in the crook of my arm, at my breast, near my heart, and by my side--a feeling of closeness, both physically and emotionally, that I will never regret.
  • The moment I was grateful for an easy going child when, because Brennan was out of town, I had Hyrum alone for four hours of church meetings. He spent hour after hour contentedly in the baby carrier through Primary program practices, ward choir rehearsals, and much more.
  • The few weeks when he refused to poop in his diaper and because I knew him so well, knew when to put him on the potty. That phase passed, but for that time, it was a surprisingly beautiful reminder that I knew him and through our communication with one another, I could give him what he needed.
  • The moment, just today, when he climbed into my lap, asked to nurse, and sat there contentedly for nearly 20 minutes, glad to be held by and cuddling with mommy
  • The moment when I picked him up from the sitter and despite my separation anxiety, realized that he had a blast because he knew I would return to him.
  • The moment every day when I kneel down to pray and  thank Heavenly Father over and over again for the blessing of this child and for this experience.
I'm sure that voice of guilt and doubt will return, and probably frequently.

But I'm grateful for those moments that tell you it's all worth it. I'm grateful for love, support and encouraging words that help tie me over in the moments when I can't remember THE moments. Most of all, I'm grateful to be a mother.