Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Reflections on Motherhood

Eric got me flowers for Mother's Day. Don't you love how the light reflects through the glass, the patterns it creates on the table (which this picture truly does not capture), and how you can see tiny bubbles around the stems? :)

It struck me yesterday that Gwen has been with us for 1/2 a year now. And I still feel like she is brand new.

I recall when I was set apart to be a missionary. I was surprised to feel like the same person afterwards. Somehow there was a disparity between the missionary I had always envisioned and the reality of being just regular ole me. I came to realize the there is no "moment" when I suddenly became that missionary. It was a lot of hard work, minuscule changes in myself overtime, and-- actually-- the ability to NOT fret about it. The water doesn't boil when you watch it, I guess.

Well, I suppose that is how I feel about motherhood too. The mother I always envisioned myself to be-- eternally positive, saintly patient, energetic and fun, taking time in daily moments to teach and inspire wonder in a child, full of faith that the kids will recognize rather than worrisome and easily overwhelmed, and loving loving loving-- well, that self continues to elude me. I know, I know. It is a process and I'm not perfect yet. I think too easily I am given to forget how much I love Gwen and desire her complete happiness.

She has been teething, I think, and has been high maintainance and generally irritable all day, every day, for the past 6 days. Her naps are shorter, she's still grumpy when she wakes up, she doesn't want to be put down, she doesn't want to be held, she doesn't want to eat, she doesn't want ANYTHING except to drool, chew on things, and fuss and grump and wriggle. Now if I was truly compassionate, I would be patient with her discomfort and sympathize with how hard it must be for her to be in pain without a means of expressing it. I imagine a mom gently soothing her child, rocking her while singing soft lullabies to distract, and calmly handling the squirms without complaint. I'm not that mom yet. This week has been quite exhausting, I've gotten little to nothing accomplished, the house was in complete disarray by Saturday, and she hasn't even popped a tooth. When she was putting up a huge fuss about eating her dinner yesterday, spitting out 1/2 of every bite of cereal, wriggling and kicking so that I was performing major balancing skills just keeping her on my lap while holding the bowl, turning her sticky wet face into my shirt to avoid the spoon so that now I'm dirty too, and taking 45 minutes to finally get it all down... I'll admit. I wasn't feeling great swells of love at that moment. All I felt was frustrated and tired. And, irrational as it may sound, I was mad at Gwen for being such a fuss-bucket.

I cried a lil as I struggled with her to get ready for bed time and repented for my feelings (and lack of feelings). And then she giggled as soon as she splashed in the bath water... and I knew everything was going to be okay. I blew on her belly, tickled her face with my hair, and even let her grab it and yank it into the water. She was only happy for about 15 minutes between 4 and 7 pm yesterday... but those 15 minutes were a beautiful soothing balm to me. And I realized that I would willingly do it all again the next day-- all the stress, energy taxation, whining, messes, etc-- for those 15 minutes of seeing my daughter genuinely happy.

That is what motherhood means to me.


  1. Guess what Elisa, I don't know anyone who is "that" mom. I have absolutely had days/weeks like that. Especially with my first. Weston was a horrible eater and I ended up in tears on more than one occasion after a feeding. Don't be hard on yourself. Being a mother is the most difficult, constant work. You are doing a GREAT job. You know you're doing it right simply because you are willing to do it all again the next day. You're right, that's what it's all about. I hope you enjoyed a more relaxing Mother's Day! (the flowers are gorgeous)

  2. I SO understand this. One day a few weeks ago I was babysitting another baby and she was having a bad day. She woke up my baby with her screaming, and for two straight hours I was trying to calm both babies down. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. But then they both fell asleep and I immediately felt like all was well and I would do it all over again. We really do live for those 15 minutes of peace sometimes!

  3. Amen sista! Totally feel ya and understand completely. I once heard someone say that the end result of rearing a child is really shown in the adult - not the child. I think this whole parenting business is a continual journey of learning and growth ... a LONG journey. :) Glad to have friends along the way ... Happy Mother's day!!

  4. I think that a lot of these phases in life feel like there should be some sort of formal induction. The change is so gradual that it may be years before we appreciate it.

    But I think that's how the Gospel is supposed to work, too. It's not like one day we wake up and don't ever sin again; we gradually get better and better through the Grace of the Lord and through our efforts, until the last day.