Friday, June 6, 2014

Messy Motherhood

My kids are awesome.  I mean, I realllllly like them.

I like my kids when we jump on the trampoline together, all bounces and giggles, hair flying every which way with static, clothing rumpled and mussed-up with leaves and twigs.

I really like it when people are blown away by my oldest boy playing music on the piano.  In that moment, I'm utterly proud, and can't imagine anything better than being a mother to this kid.
I like it when I watch my older daughter snuggle my friend's one-year-old - comforting him and connecting with him in a uniquely heart-felt way.

I like when my 6 year old randomly looks up at me with big, innocent, blue eyes and says "Mommy, you're pretty!" in his hushed, raspy little voice.

I like watching my kids climb trees, do gymnastics, talk to our elderly neighbors, draw pictures, pray cute little prayers, sing songs, read to each other, and be imaginative, creative little people.

Those are the times when my heart bursts with gratitude, and I feel
"This is what parenting is supposed to be" and I am content with my role as Mommy.

But sometimes I don't like them.
Peanut butter, meet the Tablet

For example: when they fight, complain, make messes, fight, whine, argue, rub peanut butter all over the tablet, disobey, fight, run away when I'm calling them, break my favorite earrings, spill crumbs everywhere, push each other, spill juice all over the floor, act obnoixiously in front of our friends, and whine the whole time we try to put them to bed at night.

Then I begin to wonder and question:
"Why am I doing this!?" and I think
"I must be doing this all wrong since they act like this A LOT!" 


I know mistakes are normal.  I know that perfect children are abnormal.

So I'm guessing that feeling like a mess as a mom must be normal, too.  

The turning point for me was a few days ago, when my 4 year old yelled at me: "You're a bad mommy!"

Although I knew that this was the wailing, emotional, unrealistic assesment of an overtired child, it still made me a little bit sad.  Especially after having a day filled with frustrating moments with my kids.

Yet, this time, instead of feeling frustrated and angry - instead of thinking "I just don't enjoy this parenting thing!", I actually felt love in my heart.  It was strange, really.  It should have been one of those "throw in the towel" moments where I calmly shut his door, walked away and then screamed into my pillow.  But instead of feeling like I was dealt a bad hand of cards, and my kid was just unlikeable - in that moment, what welled up within my heart was LOVE.

I realized that no matter what mistakes happened or will happen in the future, I was made to love this child.  It's foolish to think that LOVING means always liking.   Certainly the goal of a loving relationship is compassion, kindness, and loads of patience.  But it doesn't mean that things are going to work perfectly.  It doesn't mean that you will always say or do the right thing as a parent.  It most certainly doesn't mean that you will always FEEL the "right" way.

More important than liking my kids all the time, is loving them - messes and all.  I can love them even when they say childish things to me.  I know, deep down, that I love them even though they make messes, cost me lots of money, and take up most of my waking hours.

Love covers a multitude of sins.

I realized that even if I'm not feeling it, even if I don't have warm fuzzies towards my kids due to their immature, age-appropriate behavior, it doesn't make me a bad mom or mean that I shouldn't have chosen this as my profession, or that I'm not qualified to raise them.

Once in a while, when my husband is dealing with one of our older children's outbursts, in the midst of their emotional diarrhea spewing out towards him, he'll just pause for a moment, smile, and say "I love you!"  I really admire this about him.  It's as though he can cut to what really matters - and that this moment, this lapse of restraint and unlikeable behavior will pass.

What remains even if the house is in shambles and we didn't have a perfect day is relationship,
and love.

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