Loving motherhood in those in-the-middle moments, too

I’m busy. I’m a homeschooling mama with big dreams and ideas and a fairly large number of children in our family. My days are busy, I’m often spread thin, and if I succeed at a dozen things in one day, then I feel like I also fail at another dozen, too. Mothering is hard, yet motherhood is amazing. It’s such an honor, a wonderful, wonderful thing, and when I get over my stresses and silly worries and obsession with trying to be organized and have a perfectly uncluttered home and neatly groomed children, I find peace in the notion that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing everyday, what I have chosen to do. In those moments when I get over my stress, I’m thankful for my children, and I call myself crazy for wanting to do more and more things that are all about me and less about us. But you know what? These shining little moments of clarity in my walk as a mother often come in the super sweet and wonderfully fun moments of life. OR I have found myself finding clarity and a renewed sense of purpose in my role as a mother during the sadder moments of life, or the more worrisome or heartbreaking or challenging ones. The highs and lows of life teach me so much, and I think I’m not alone in saying this.

When my kids came down with the flu a few years ago, and I rocked them to sleep while they struggled to find rest, I wanted nothing more than to be there for them in all of their moments. If they could just get over their fevers, then I would be more thankful for their health than I ever had been before. And then there was the time my baby had that terrible cough with that awful whooping sound. As I stayed up with him through his coughing spasms and waited for him to catch his breath, I knew there was no where else I would rather be. I knew that all of the silly pressures and deadlines and minor disappointments in my life didn’t matter as much as the sweet baby in my arms. If he could just get better. If he could just catch his breath and clear his lungs and get better, then I would be a better mother. I would quit getting annoyed with whiny kids, and instead, show them how to express themselves by being patient and kind myself. I would quit complaining about never getting me time, and instead delight in the fact that I have sweet little children to read bedtime stories to. And there was the time I miscarried a sweet little life. That little life changed me as a mother in such a huge, immeasurable way. I became a more patient, loving, dedicated, and thankful mother while carrying that sweet baby. I tried to stop taking so many things for granted as I struggled to hold on and keep up hope. I loved carrying that little life, and when I lost that baby and looked at that tiny little body, I knew life was amazing, and I would not take motherhood for granted one more day.

But I was wrong. I did take it for granted – motherhood, my children, life, everything. Because weeks and then months passed by after that tragedy. Life got normal again, things became happy and routine, and then I got tired, and the kids got loud and tired and fussy one day, and they took all of the board games out of our organized closet and scattered all of the pieces to all of the games on the floor, and I wanted to send them to bed at 3 in the afternoon, while I put on a grown up movie and forgot about all the chaos a while. I wanted to throw all of their games away, and I wondered what my life would be if I spent more time writing and less time mothering. But I knew the answer. I knew my life wouldn’t be what I wanted it to be, or what my kids would want it to be. In my present daily life, there are no unnecessary moments that I want to trade in for more me time. I am their teacher. I am their nurturer. I am the one who is here for them, and even though it is trying at times, it is wonderful. I am not always good at doing this. I can lose my patience. I can misunderstand them. I often find myself exhausted and frustrated and ordering a pizza when I just don’t want to prepare and clean up after another organic, healthy meal. But then I remember what it felt like to look down at the little body of the baby I lost. I remember that in that moment I felt such pain, but also such love, and I try my best to hold on to that love and share it with the parts of my family I have here with me.

And it is pretty simple to share overflowing love with my family during the really great times, not just the really tragic ones. I sometimes find myself sitting in my living room in front of the fire, reading to my kids and then just stopping and thinking, “This is it. This is what I want to be doing more than anything else.” But when the coziness of those moments pass, I’m not so great at feeling content in the mundane moments – those moments when nothing tragic is happening, but also nothing especially great is happening, like during breakfast or while washing dishes or while working on a math lesson with one of my kids. And that’s a little sad to me, because those mundane in-the-middle moments are really the moments that make up most of my life. I want to be thankful and content in those in-the-middle moments. I want those moments to be fulfilling, too. I want to see God in those moments, and I want to serve Him there. I want to love my kids in those moments and to not spend those moments wishing I were doing something different or worrying about what might come next that isn’t so in-the-middle. I’ll continue to enjoy and love special days with the kids, and I know there are probably going to be many lessons to learn over the years from trying times, but I’m hoping to love life and learn from it at other times, too. I want to be better at that. Is that totally unrealistic – to love life and learn from it at 7 in the morning when I just finished cleaning the kitchen that I didn’t clean the night before and the kids are all hoping for muffins for breakfast when I was hoping they’d want some fruit and yogurt, so I could save some time and dishes and then maybe use that time to wash my hair or drink some coffee in semi-peace?

Maybe it is unrealistic, but I’ve never been much for setting realistic goals anyway.

(And just to be clear: I’m all for a little mama time-out and quiet coffee time, and I’m certainly all for carving out writing time and piano playing time and whatever kind of time a mama like myself is passionate about. I’m just saying I don’t want to always be wanting more and more and more time just for me at the expense of the kids’ little hearts and minds. I don’t want them to grow up with a stressed out mom who only appreciates them and cuddles with them and tells them an extra story when they are sick or sad or when times are tough. I want them to feel like I love spending my days with them, because, really, I do.
That said,  I love my coffee and a quiet spot. So much.)