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Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Heart of A Mother - What I Didn't Know When I Became a Mom

This is the most recent photo I have with my three.
Long before I became a mother, I can see how the heart of motherhood was growing within me.  I loved playing with dolls and setting up a "house" in my bedroom or our garage, which doubled as our playroom.  As I matured, the longing to nurture was satisfied with my pet and nesting happened in dorm rooms and one-bedroom apartments which I delighted in making cozy.  I couldn't wait for the day to become a Mother and my first Mother's Day was one of the greatest days in my whole life.

I knew that I would adore my children and that they would also require me to be selfless and sacrificial.  I underestimated the intense connection that I would feel, especially in those early years when they were so very dependent.  I knew there would be fun times as well as stressful ones.  So much was predictable, but there were some things that surprised me about motherhood.

Last year, I got to be with my whole crew on Mother's Day!

What I Didn't Know

1. I didn't know how I would learn to value myself through their eyes.  That I was important to my children was obvious from day one - they needed comfort, care and protection.  But each time they run to me for assurance or glance to make sure I'm noticing, I am reminded that my presence in their lives in huge. The size of my thighs or the brand of purse doesn't matter one bit to my kiddos, but showing up at school or seizing one-on-one time makes their day.  I didn't know that having children would bring razor sharp focus for the purpose in this season of life.

First Mother's Day with Faith
2. I didn't understand how my concept of self would become wrapped up in these little people,self-care was truly important and martyrs do not make good mothers.  Along with that purpose above, I found I could lose my own identity in theirs.  Now I know that it is worth the effort to value myself and not build my whole world around them - it is too great a burden for little hearts to bear.  This article describes it so well: Motherhood Taught Me To Love Myself.
and
why that wasn't always healthy.  I learned that

3. I didn't guess that I would find reasons to laugh and smile, even on my very worst days.  I was unaware of how my attitude would set the tone for the whole household.  I had no idea how to live "in the moment" before children entered my life.  I was planner and performer, always striving to please or working to be productive.  I was often thinking in the future, or checking off lists.  Becoming a mother let me savor rocking a baby, long after he had fallen asleep.  It taught me joy in folding tiny pajamas and to let go of imperfect garden beds.  I learned to quit trying to be perfect and be satisfied with enough.

4. I wasn't prepared for how much I would have to take the long-term perspective.  I thought most things could be conquered and tied up neatly, but motherhood taught me the value of daily investing for future payoffs.  Mothering well truly is a marathon that is won by daily consistencies in correction, compliments, time and affection.  Investing today may not have its reward for many years, but they are so worth the efforts.

5. I didn't know the instant connection that would happen among mothers and how it would bond me to a tribe of people who "get it."  In my neighborhood and in the headlines, my first response is from the heart of a mother.  I am grateful for the common bond even though we express our motherhood so differently at times.

I'm still growing as a mother, and I still have so much to learn  I'm so very grateful for the little hearts that teach me, stretch me, motivate and move me.  Motherhood has surprised me with lessons of life that I could have learned no other way.  Mothers aren't born the day a baby arrives.  The heart of a mother grows as a woman nurtures, cares sacrifices for those in her life: whether it is a child born to her or the child up the street who needs encouragement.  The heart of a Mother grows when we give away our very selves.

Other Thoughts on Mothering:

Rules of Motherhood

Essential Stepmom Skills

The Truth About Mothering

My Greatest Accomplishment

Stepping Through Mother's Day (As A Stepmom)

Mother's Day, 2015