I have been wanting to write this blog post for a while now. Actually, I’ve really just wanted to say it out loud. For over four and a half years, my life had been consumed with thoughts and feelings I could not express because I did not know how or feared they would be misunderstood. Today I had a moment of clarity while washing my face, and I think I am finally ready to deal with the elephant in the room.
Since having my children I have learned two major things. I love my children more than I ever could have imagined, and I dislike motherhood more than I ever could have imagined.
There. I said it. Judge away.
I love my children. I love their little feet and soft kisses. I love tickling them and wiping their faces so I can look into their crystal blue eyes and tell them how precious they are. I love hearing them speak about their feelings, dreams, and discoveries. I love watching their little bodies as they learn to crawl, walk, run, jump on one foot, and dance. I am obsessed with their imaginations, in awe at their bravery, and humbled by their forgiveness when I make mistakes. I have learned more about divinity raising these little spirits than any scripture I have ever read.
I have also learned a little something about my limits. To be honest, before motherhood, I hadn’t met many challenges that I couldn’t work through. Learning came easily. With much practice, I even became a decent musician. I loved working and being surrounded by people and praise. More than anything, I loved feeling in control. And if you love feeling in control, boy, is motherhood a wake-up call. Suddenly, I was thrust into a world where my precious control was striped from me and replaced with inconsistency. Try as I may, I just could not seem to put the puzzle together the way I thought it was suppose to fit. I could not seem to get my daughter to sleep, I did not know how to comfort my son when he cried endlessly for the first year, and I could not poof them better with they were sick. Today, I cook healthy food they will not eat and spend all day talking to little persons who do not listen. I repeat repeat repeat repeat so many things that I feel forced to raise my voice, and those little blue eyes turn on me in shock. I’ve read parenting blogs and listened to advice from others, and when those methods do not deliver as promised, it all comes back to me, and I wonder why I am such an inadequate human that I can’t get anything right.
I was never that girl who begged to hold babies. They terrified me, and if someone handed a little drooler to me, it often cried, which sent me into a tailspin of anxiety. After having two of them, I can honestly say I still don’t care for babies. I don’t mind them for short bits of time, but there is not enough money in the world to pay me to go back to that stage. They are too unpredictable for this control freak.
For me, motherhood has never felt natural. It has felt like this constant urge to run away fighting against this intense love pulling me to stay. So, for four and a half years, I have been holding my breath like I am watching the climax of a movie, just hoping the beloved hero doesn’t get squashed by the frightening villain. I always have one ear focused on their bedrooms at night, waiting for crying or coughing or, heaven forbid, productive heaving. There isn’t ever one minute where I am totally relaxed and at peace. Fall is my favorite season, but for the past few weeks, the cooling air and shorter days have only reminded me that flu season piggybacks on Autumn, and I have a son that runs from me when he throws up, leaving long vomit trails in my carpet.
Last year, during my difficult battle with postpartum depression, I sort of gave up. I felt like I was stuck in this miserable cycle of existence where I was inadequate beyond measure and unlovable. Perhaps my children would have been better off with a mom who loved all the moods of babies like my mother-in-law or had the natural presence to command an army of tots like my mother. In that moment, is was as if the hand of God reached out and pulled me off the edge of a cliff. He reminded me that what I was experiencing would be written in my book of life preceded by “and it came to pass.”
After that experience, I re-enrolled in school, completely changed my diet, cleaned more, involved my kids in the everyday workings of the house, finished my book, started a second one, and reached out to others (like my husband) instead of isolating myself. I felt sunshine reenter my world. . . but not permanently. Occasionally, I still feel suffocated, inadequate, and completely out of control, but as my children are getting older and more communicative, those feelings definitely come with less frequency.
That brings me back to tonight and washing my face. Recently, I have decided to start dressing and grooming as if I am going out in public more. I think as a stay-at-home mom, it can be easy to get into the housework bun and sweats lifestyle, but I have noticed when I spend the time to put myself together in the morning, I feel more put together throughout the day. Consequently, I have had some adolescent acne reemerge from sleeping in my makeup. I tried to cover them with more and more make-up, but a few weeks ago, someone suggested I actually try washing my face instead. I caved and bought a cleansing brush and made it a part of my nightly routine. Within three weeks of using it, the acne disappeared, and my face is starting to look more youthful again.
Tonight as I was washing my face, I realized that for a long time I had wounds and imperfections that I tried to cover up, but they just kept getting worse and multiplying. In the past six months as I have made changes in my life, it felt a lot like washing my face. It has been difficult to expose the demons I was hiding but also necessary to treat them. The Lord has said “if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27). Facing my flaws head on has been incredibly difficult; however, I have faith that by showing my weakness and humbling myself, the Lord can use me to bless my children’s lives. I will continue to wash my face and take my burdens to my Heavenly Father, because as much I as I dislike motherhood sometimes, I sure do love my kids.