When I was a little girl, I would line of all my dolls up and give each of them a name. They were like my children. In my playtime I would dream about having a large and beautiful family.
In my youth, I would talk with my friends about the ideas and plans that we had for our futures. The common denominator was that we wanted to be moms and have a lot of children. Our children would be perfect: clean, educated, polite, orderly, but above all, reverent. Yes, reverence was the most important thing to us. Reverence in church meetings, because that is the only way I imagined my family; at church on Sunday.
As time went on, my dreams of motherhood began to include other activities like school, where my children were excellent students. Homework time would be just like in the movies, where everything is love, harmony, and happiness. It would be full of smiles, and spectacular educational feedback. They would have a life full of enriching after school activities such as music, art, ballet, soccer, gymnastics, etc. It was a utopia. My utopia.
In February of 2005, I became a first time mom. Now this dream that I had held onto since childhood had come true. But it started to be a little different than what I had imagined it would be. No one had told me that the beautiful round belly that I saw on pregnant women would make me so tired, and that it could cause me so much pain. No one had told me that giving birth would be painful, grueling, and exhausting. That the picture of a mother nursing came with small print because it is so painful in the beginning, and it takes a while for the milk to come in. No one told me that your productive time is significantly reduced while you are nursing a baby, and that you have to wear special clothes to accommodate the feedings.
Sleeping would never be the same. Going out on errands or outings would be harder. Your body changes and the time you have to do the essential things in life is limited. The level of difficulty of my experiences kept increasing as my baby started growing. I had three children in a short amount of time of 5 years. My patience, good attitude, optimism, tolerance were gradually affected. There were times when I would turn and see my friends who were single or did not have children, and think about how happy, free and skinny they were. There were moments when I thought that they were better off than I was.
If I could ask myself, if there was one thing that I could change during those first few years, what would it be? It would be my perspective. It was the way that I was looking at things.
I am so thankful for those almost 12 years that I have had with parenting. I have been busy almost 24 hours a day. I am thankful for unconditional love, for the small hands willing to wipe away tears of desperation and exhaustion. I am thankful for hugs on demand at my request, or being caught by surprise from behind. For the self-esteem therapy sessions with my children that really turned me into someone better. For the magical moments when flattery and admiration are not held back. For those times that even when you are weak, your children see you as powerful and strong. The times that you feel that everything is going wrong, but because of the optimism you have infused in your children, they feel like everything is going right. I am thankful for the lessons of faith and trust in God that I have received because of these little ones. I am thankful for the rolling laughter that ends in a sore stomach, for the nights of worry when they are sick, because they are a reminder of what is really important to me. There are so many more little things that I could mention. My life would be so sad without them.
I have helpers, caretakers, analysts, advisors, admirers, creators, decorators, constructors, and apprentices. Time for myself, to focus on my appearance, fashion and hobbies are things that I need to create using my imagination so that I can keep enjoying my little faithful companions who give flavor and joy to my life.
During my parenting, I have had to find the right fit to keep being myself while being a wife and mother. The search for my identity had setbacks, pauses, tears and joy, but I have found it and I keep working on it and making adjustments day by day, because my role as a mother evolves as my children grow.
Now that they are in school, I have time to go out to brunch with my friends, go to the gym, spend time shopping by myself, and I can set apart time to get myself ready. Now my time is much more free, and only child centered when they are home from school.
Time goes by so quickly and there is not a day that goes by that I am not unaware of how quickly the time is approaching that they will leave my house and go and form their own households.
I love being a mom, even though it is not easy, and it can be very difficult at times. It can be full of fear, bad moods, and being worn down, but I can truly say that my life is beutiful thanks to the title of mother. I have acquired certain skills that I would not have if I did not have this beautiful calling as a mother.
Years ago, I would laugh when people would say that a mother is a doctor, chef, decorator, psychologist, administrator, teacher, architect, electrician, sculptor, creator, maid, driver, stylists, and fashion director. Today with great satisfaction I can say that I am all of that, and that my skills are expanding every day. There is nothing in the world that can take the place of that real life experience.
One experience that had a big impact on my life was when one of my daughters had an allergic reaction to a medicine. Before we knew what it was we were very worried, because the doctors could not figure out what was wrong. We were very worried as we went over several diagnosis that were not very comforting. As parents we were sad and frustrated, and we decided to talk to the other three children while she was in the hospital and ask them to pray for her.
We knelt down to pray. As we finished the prayer, we had such a beautiful experience. We were all crying, and hugging. As our children expressed their concerns and their fears for their sister, they also expressed a deep faith in the promise that “God will not leave us comfortless.”
One of my children boldly declared that our Heavenly Father loves His children, and that he knew that his sister would be OK. Those words were just the words that we needed to hear, and they came from the mouth of our child. Our small teachers and companions were there to sustain us and help is in that difficult moment of our lives.
Today I can say that I have evolved in taking another step in better understanding the importance that I have as a co-participant in God’s eternal plan for the redemption of His children. Our influence as we teach and raise our children defines who they will be for all eternity.
Our influence on these children sets the foundation for the men and women that they will become. It is our responsibility to make sure that they have to tools to become happy, fulfilled, responsible, and respectful.
Story by Cristal Gonzalez Pictures property of Cristal Gonzalez