Being a mother is one of the most challenging, yet most rewarding jobs I have ever had - and will ever have. I was a teacher for three years before I had my daughter, Kennedy. In difficult teaching moments I remember thinking “this will make motherhood easier for me one day!” Now that I am a mother I don’t think motherhood will ever be easy, but it will always be worth it! The challenge I’m finding, is remembering why it is worth it.
Kennedy was born a month early, and I will be honest - I felt very blind-sighted. I didn’t feel like I got to get all my nesting done or wrap my head around things as much as I had hoped. I was so excited and relieved to have her with us. However, l felt like I was scrambling to catch up to the new reality of having a baby out of my body and now in my arms.
Luckily the transition from working as a full-time teacher to being a full-time mother wasn’t as difficult as I thought because I had a lot of family support. It was still a process to find my new purpose though. Motherhood isn’t easily measured like many careers are, and I think that’s why the transition was hard at times. As a teacher I had very defined projects and deadlines such as teaching a specific unit or submitting term grades. Yet as a mother there are days when I look back and think “well, I kept my daughter alive! I fed her, I played with her, I put her down for a nap, I kept her safe, I survived the tantrums, I changed her diapers…and tomorrow I’ll do it again!”
I’m no professional in motherhood by any means, but I’ve found two things that help me find more purpose in motherhood. At least, they help the monotony fade away.
1 – Slow Down!
It does a momma good (and her kids) to let go of plans and get down on the ground to play together. Our kids won’t remember if the house was clean or what they ate for dinner. They’ll remember that their mom was there to play with them, to be their friend, to teach them, to comfort them, and to help them feel safe. Even though motherhood can be filled with exhaustion, frustration, and worry, when you allow yourself to stop and see the world from your children’s eyes, all the bad seems to melt away and is replaced with delight and joy.
I can’t tell you how many days I look forward to my daughter’s bedtime. Yet so many of those days I later find myself laughing at things she did that day, or I’ll end up looking at pictures and videos of her and look forward to playing with her again the next morning. Motherhood has a lot of ups and downs like that, but the ups far out-weight the downs. Slowing down, even if that is looking through pictures and videos, it helps me to remember the joys of motherhood.
2 - Take Care of Yourself, Mom!
Recently I started my own business, but before that there were many moments when I would catch myself thinking that I am just a mom. The word “just” is poisonous because it implies that there isn’t any other purpose. That is so false! Mothers make the world go ‘round, and they should get so much more credit than they do. Because of this, it is critical that we take care of ourselves so that we don’t feel like we are “just” a mom.
I’m still learning how crucial it is to find time for me. That may mean waking up even earlier so I can get a workout in or planning a girl’s night out with friends. It may be allowing myself to sit down and watch a favorite show without any guilt about the mile-high pile of laundry that needs to be done or the other household tasks I’m neglecting. Any kind of self-care, be that reading a book, taking a nap, painting my nails, etc. remind me that my needs matter too. These may be simple things, but I’m learning that when I take care of myself I end up being a better mother and wife. I’m more patient and feel like a more purposeful mom.
I know many mothers that I aspire to be like one day. If I occasionally slow down and make it a priority to take care of myself, I will hopefully be more like them one day. As I said before, motherhood will never be easy, but it will always be worth it! It’s in the hot mess of the exhaustion, the joy, the messes, the tantrums, and the belly laughs where the real magic of motherhood is found.
My daughter Kennedy is 18 months old and she is getting to be more and more independent. As exciting as this is, it’s also exhausting because it means more tantrums and more messes. One task that Kennedy particularly likes to do herself is to eat her food with utensils. Thank goodness she’s making progress, but food still ends up on the floor all the time. I’m on my hands and knees multiple times every day scrubbing the floor and cleaning up smeared food on the walls. It’s hard to find a desire to even clean the floor when I know it’ll get messy again in just a few hours when the next mealtime comes around!
The other day I was in the kitchen getting on started on dinner when Kennedy ran into her room. I could hear her get into the baby wipes and immediately though “Great, one more mess to clean up.” But to my surprise, she quickly came back running into the kitchen with a baby wipe in hand. She got down onto her hands and knees and started wiping the floor. Even though she was mostly just moving crumbs around, the fact that she had learned that you use a white thing on the floor made all of those times on my hands and knees even more worth it! She may not be old enough to understand why I do that, but it was a good reminder that she does see what I do!
Story by Brittni Moffat