Friday, May 6, 2016

Some thoughts on Motherhood.

I've had this mom gig for about 8 months, so I pretty much know everything. jkjk But I have learned a lot in those months. And I have felt a lot. I have felt the crushing mom guilt when I go to work and leave my baby. I have felt the pressure of the huge responsibility that has been given to me. And the deep tired that sets in when you haven't had a stretch of sleep longer than 2 hours for 3 months straight. I've felt anxiety beyond belief. I've felt panicked about how quickly everything is going and frantic about holding onto every little moment. I've felt failure when I don't know how to make my baby sleep or how to help her stop throwing up or when I pump for 20 minutes and yield a measly ounce of breastmilk. And success when I put her down to sleep and sneak out of the room without her waking up, or when her face lights up when I come pick her up. And I've felt the immense happiness when I saw her first smiles and heard her first laugh. And the most beautiful feeling of peace that comes when I hold her as she sleeps. I've felt love that I didn't know existed. I have felt the powers of heaven and had sacred experiences that I will treasure forever. Motherhood is divine. It is a glimpse into heaven and a small taste of the love that God has for us.

I put this quote (from Elder Holland) up last week as a celebration of Mothers Day. Nate came home, read it, and said, "Pattin' yourself on the back pretty hard, aren't you?" It made me laugh so hard. I hadn't even really thought about it being about me. It was more of a tribute to mothers everywhere and my own mother/motherly figures. My response to him was, "Someone's gotta do it!" 

When I was pregnant, people (parents) would often give warnings instead of congratulations. They would say things like, "kids are the worst" or "is it too late to change your mind?" Har har har. Another thing you hear a lot is, "It's SO hard, but worth it." This scared me, because what if it was just hard and not worth it. People would say, "Most of the time parenting is terrible and all you want to do is die, but then there's a few seconds each day where things are amazing and you remember why you did it." And I would just stand there and think, "Are you H-ing me? You are living for a few seconds a day??" I was so scared to become a mom because of people's "helpful" advice. I hated that no matter what people said about being a mom, they either lead with it being sucky, or followed up with it. It bothered me for a couple reasons, but the main reason was because I was so worried that they might be right.

Well, the were WRONG. They were so wrong. Being a mom is the best thing I have ever done. Yeah yeah, it's hard, but so is everything. But it's a different kind of hard, because you are motivated by love. The sucky things aren't so bad because even though you just met this tiny person a day ago, you would do anything for them. And the times that I thought would be the worst, like 2AM feedings, are often my favorite. Sitting in the quiet dark night holding my babe close, whispering little lullabies to her or just listening to her tiny little breaths, I'm usually overwhelmed by the Spirit and end up crying all over her because I'm so grateful. And even after she's fallen back to sleep, I stay. I hold her tight and nuzzle into her soft baby cheeks and soak her in and say a million prayers of gratitude.

One of my friends (loose definition) wrote about motherhood on her blog and said, "You know that Ram Dass quote, "We're all just walking each other home"? That's what waking up to feed a baby in the night is to me. She's here, and she's mine and once I was her and my mom was me and before that my mom was me and my grandma was her. And we're all just walking each other home." Her whole post is here.  While I'm "momming", I love thinking about how my mom did this same thing for me at one point. It seems so wrong that you don't and can't fully appreciate your own mother until you are one yourself. So many things that my mom did, which I thought were crazy, are suddenly 100% justified.

“How is it that a human being can love a child so deeply that you willingly give up a major portion of your freedom for it? How can mortal love be so strong that you voluntarily subject yourself to responsibility, vulnerability, anxiety, and heartache and just keep coming back for more of the same? What kind of mortal love can make you feel, once you have a child, that your life is never, ever your own again? Maternal love has to be divine. There is no other explanation for it. What mothers do is an essential element of Christ’s work. Knowing that should be enough to tell us the impact of such love will range between unbearable and transcendent, over and over again, until with the safety and salvation of the very last child on earth, we can [then] say with Jesus, ‘[Father!] I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." 

That is from a talk that Elder Holland gave last October. It was a few weeks after I became a mom and I sobbed through the entire talk. I blamed it on the crazy postpartum hormones at the time, but I just listened to it again and it turns out it wasn't the hormones. His words are perfect and I dream of being able execute my thoughts like him. If you could listen to the thoughts in my head, you'd all be crying too.

Happy Mother's Day to all those who are mothering in any way (even if it's to bee's)!