Monday, March 11

Thoughts On My Years as a Mom

On Saturday afternoon I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote this at the top: 
“My Life As a SAHM”   (SAHM= Stay at Home Mom)
I intended to brainstorm some quick thoughts and ideas that would succinctly summarize my experience as a mom over the last twelve years.
I’m not sure what naïve part of me thought that such an assignment would be quick or succinct—that I would be able to adequately describe the experience, journey, growth, challenges, struggle, and blessings that the last 12 years have been.
These are some of the words I wrote down:
Identity defining
Only possible by faith
Deeper reliance on God
Emotional healing

Maybe, I thought after jotting these down, it’s un-summarizable, these last 11 years of life.
And yet don’t we all, in some way, want to take stock of our days—of our experiences? Especially when some piece of our lives, some season, has been so soul defining that you realize you are a completely different person than when you began?
A completely different person, with the same name: Mom.
In the process of trying to write this post, I also tried starting three different times. 
The first attempt shared the story of a resume I sent to a potential freelance client last week. Given that my primary job description for 11 years now has been “Mom” my resume felt poorly outdated and strangely irrelevant. 
How could sending a list of bulleted “professional” experiences, mostly from over a decade ago, really communicate who I am and what my current strengths are?
I wanted to send a cover letter that said—“Let me tell you what lies between the lines: Between the lines of that last formal teaching job in 2007 and my life today in 2019. I promise you it’s far more interesting than what is actually printed on the page.”
I scrapped that post and started another one—I thought I could start at the beginning—the day Scott and I found ourselves driving to the hospital to give birth to Ava in June of 2007. How it was a week before my due date, and my “birth plan” went right out the window…and how quickly you realize that very little about parenting every really goes as planned.
But, that was going to be a l-o-n-g post, and I wasn’t sure where to stop—there was no way to draw a straight line from there to here…today.
I decided against that one too.  
I complained to Scott. “Babe, I wanted to write this post," I told him,  "but there’s no way to write about 12 years of motherhood in one post.” 
“Of course there isn’t,” he said.  
Of course there isn’t.
So here we are. 

Here I am. 

Offering a list of words, a few sentences… telling you it’s been a long, good, complex, often overwhelming, soul-defining journey, but not giving you anything specific.
I can, however,  tell you a few things I've learned about parenting in general...

I can tell you that I have become far more confident in my parenting decisions in the last few years. I know that I’m the mom, and that I know what’s best for my kids, especially when I’ve been praying about it. 
I can tell you that Scott and I realize we are creating a legacy.  That we are sowing seeds of character, courage, faith and a worldview into our girl’s hearts and lives, and that it isn’t a responsibility we take lightly.
I can tell you that there are some days I feel like I know so much more about how to be a good parent- what I should be doing, where I should be intentional, what the goals and vision should and can be.
But, I can also tell you that there are the days when I fall flat on my face because I’m tired, frustrated, or discouraged. On those days it feels like nothing I'm doing is amounting to anything the way I thought it would…and while I know this is a feat of perseverance and commitment, sometimes I just want someone else to be in charge for a little while.
I can tell you that I have legitimately locked myself in the bathroom and have hidden in the basement—ignoring the calls for “Mom”—and thought, Can someone else just be the mom today? I’m so done momming right now! 
But then…
Ahhh, but then…
A picture comes up on my Facebook feed that causes a huge lump to form in my throat. A picture of Aubrey just 3 years ago, sitting in the backseat with two binkies in her mouth, a huge winter coat smooshed into the car seat buckles, and her socks and shoes stripped off.
I laugh and remember how it used to drive me C-R-A-Z-Y that she took her stinkin’ shoes off every time we got in the car because it meant that we were going to have to take five minutes to put them back on before we went into the store (or, wherever we were going). Yet, looking at her chubby 3-year-old feet in that picture makes me think I would do it ALLL over again…I just wouldn’t let it drive me so crazy.
And the pictures of Ava and Ella—when they were in 1stand 3rdgrade and I used to pick them up from school and we’d go straight to Tim Horton’s for a snack because Ava needed to go to gymnastics and Ella needed to go to dance, and it became this weekly “thing”. 

You know, the ways things become “things”. 
They’re both wearing fleece hats and sucking on their smoothie straws, faces right next to each other, smiling with all of the joy possible in their sweet little worlds.  
They were all such sweet moments and there are hundreds of pictures to remind of how very sweet they were…thousands, actually. (I-cloud verified that there are 7,665 current photos as a matter of fact…and that’s not all of them!)

So, on the days when I feel like I can’t remember what we did last week, or what it felt like to hold a baby, or push a toddler in a stroller through Disney World, on the weeks when I feel like it’s all a hard, uphill battle, it does me good to look at those photos…because they communicate something to me.  They remind me of something that is sometimes hard to put into words.
They remind me of the beauty. The blessing. The joy. The thrills. The laughter. The love. The reasons we do all that we do—even when we’re tired, poured out, and feeling like we don’t want to “mom” for one more minute.
We are creating a legacy, after all.
We are writing a story.
It's actually a more beautiful story than I sometimes like to believe when the girls are complaining about cleaning their rooms, or about the chewy chicken I attempted to cook in the crock-pot.
Would I do it all over again? The sleepless nights, the toddler years with two kids 19-months apart who were always driving each other crazy, the commitment to stay at home full time with them until they all started school? 
Ha! Maybe…Maybe if someone promised me I’d get a little bit more sleep and that a free maid came with the deal. Then, I would definitely do it all over again.
Only, you know what I would change?
I would change my attitude about it all…I would do it with more joy. More appreciation for the small moments. More patience and intentionality.
It’s why all of those little old ladies stopped me in the grocery store to tell me the same thing over and over again, “Honey, it goes so fast. Enjoy the moments.”
I am quickly on my way to becoming one of those ladies.
In the meantime, I’m going to finish writing that long story—the one that starts at the very beginning, almost 12 years ago—with Scott and I, naively, driving to the hospital, understanding that we were at the starting line of something big, but having absolutely no way of knowing just how big and complex it would actually be.
And, how not knowing, it turns out, was probably a VERY good thing. 

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