I recently read a post online that included the following sentence: “to all the moms who aren’t fulfilled by being just a mom.”
Just a mom.
You know, the whole “being a mom is miserable” mantra is way overdone. It’s old. It’s boring. It’s eye-roll inducing. We get it: motherhood isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. We discovered that the first time we had to change a baby with a diaper blow out in the dark at 2 a.m. while the baby was hungry, screaming, peeing everywhere, and you hadn’t slept more than 25 minutes in six weeks.
I was there too, for enough years to understand.
I complained and whined about how boring it was staying home with three kids under five years of age. I lamented about how my life was so much better before and how my kids were an inconvenience to the life I didn’t have anymore. I mourned the loss of my “me” time and my independence to simply go get milk at 8 p.m. I fumed over how I thought my husband didn’t help enough. I complained about the trash, the messy house, the lack of time with him and time alone. I longed for the days when my toughest decision was what to do on a Friday night.
So, you know, I’ve been there.
Right where you might be.
And you know what? I was miserable. So were my kids, my husband, and pretty much anyone I came into contact with.
Here’s the reality that took me too long to come to terms with: motherhood isn’t about you. It’s about our children. If you have small kids, that’s your life.
It’s that simple.
I’m not “just” a mom, and neither are you.
We are more than that.
We are the heart of our home.
We set the tone, the mood, the pace, and we create the atmosphere with a bad attitude or a good one. We get to choose how we react to every second of our day which sets the tone for how everyone else’s day will go. Our children see how we handle life’s curve-balls and how we manage the mundane. They learn from us. They learn by watching how we manage life both good and bad.
Do I love every moment of motherhood? No.
Do I love having my kids around? Not always.
Am I tired? You bet! I haven’t slept a solid nights sleep since my first kid was born seven and a half years ago.
But there is joy in the journey.
Some days it’s hard to find, but it is always there if you look for it. There is always a positive moment, a laugh, a smile, no matter how fleeting.
Motherhood is about serving your family. I know it’s not the most popular concept in a self-centered, ego-driven “Me” Culture. Especially for us women who feel so degraded at the thought of indentured servitude to a one-year-old slinging chicken nuggets at the cat.
“How did I get here in life?” You ask—if you have never asked yourself that you probably will one day when you see that an entire roll of toilet paper can be flushed into the toilet all at once.
It’s not an easy job. It’s not supposed to be.
Motherhood is supposed to be humbling, and nothing is more humbling than a three-year-old swinging open the door of a busy changing room stall at Target when you’re half naked with one leg in a stretch denim pant leg hole. Or shouting that you have boobs in the middle of Mass at church.
Motherhood is the most selfless thing you can do in this life. It’s demanding, frustrating, chaotic, thankless, often lonely, nerve-wracking. It’s the least rewarding job, but also the most rewarding job. It’s fun, beautiful, amazing and fulfilling. Maybe you won’t always feel the inner joy, but it’s there. You’ll feel that joy one day when your heart swells as you watch your child swim for the first time, win an award, or read a book by themselves.
Motherhood is about giving of yourself for the sake of your kids and as moms, we give more than we get. That’s what love is. We do all of this because we love. Even if we don’t feel love all the time, our love is shown with hugs and kisses and laughter but also with clean sheets, help with homework, lunches made, meals cooked, clean clothes, bedtime stories, clean bathrooms, and trips to the park. Our love is shown in trying our best to make the daily life our family lives run as smoothly as we can — even if it’s an epic failure.
While it is true that every woman who has kids was once more than “just” a mother, ask yourself if the things you did before were more important than what you do now?
Motherhood isn’t “just” being a mom.
We are more than “just” mothers.
We are the center of our families.
The heart of our homes.
So, as you face the storms head on today, do it with a new perspective, even if today is the eleventh installment of the worst series of days in the history of your preschooler.
Find the joy.
It might be hiding under a pile of laundry, but there is joy in the journey. Some days it’s harder to find, but it is always there.