There is nothing that can prepare you for becoming a mother. Well not entirely. As I grew up I knew I wanted get married and have kids. It just felt right. I got married at 21 and had my first child at 23. Loving them from the first moment I saw them was the easy part. Being what I feel is a great mother is the difficult part.
Can I just stop here for a moment…I know a good post is one where you relate to it and it move you because it’s funny, or real or raw, not someone trying to show off their “perfect life”. I applaud anyone who can write something moving, who can dig down deep and share what’s really in their heart and not try to gloss over the real stuff of life. I think that is harder than we give credit for. I am going to try to be #real (I am poking fun of Instagram posts here). Perhaps this is why it has taken me so long to get this to Amber, because I knew it would take a lot of energy to write this. The worry is a selfish one, will people relate or just think “wow your weird, I can’t believe you…phew glad I’m not like that.”
I love my kids. I am human and have baggage and it affects the way I parent. My oldest daughter is 11 in a few months. Where oh where did the time go?! I have 7 years to get her ready for life. I feel like I have failed in many ways to do this largely because of my own selfishness and mismanagement of time. I know we’re not perfect and Heavenly Father knows that and sends us kids that need us as we are and all that, but there is still guilt or knowing I could do better be better for them. Don’t they deserve it?!
I look back at my growing up which wasn’t great in many ways, but was also exactly what I needed. How do those coexist? I didn’t get hugged a lot or tucked in at night, but my parents took us to neat places in the great outdoors where we had so much fun together. I got yelled at a lot by my dad, but he would tell us the most fantastic made up stories and now he tells my kids stories too. I was not taught to cook and did not leave home with a love of healthy food, but my mom never talked badly about her body, didn’t diet and all that goes a long with that. They screwed me up just right and I am screwing up my kids just right ha ha!
I am not as spontaneous and fun as I would like to be, but I tell my children I love them everyday and give them hugs. I can lose my temper, but have no problem asking for their forgiveness and admitting I was in the wrong. I’m not great about reading to my kids, but we read the scriptures everyday as a family without fail. We could all make a list like this. We all have different strengths and weaknesses.
The real beauty here is that through thee Atonement He can make weak things strong. I have experienced this in my life. If I have realized anything about having kids it’s that sowing the seeds of love in all it’s faucets and then seeing the fruit of your labors is not a quick return on investment ha ha! After two years of having my kids do chores it finally started to feel like I was seeing the fruits of my labors TWO YEARS! I know that I want my kids to be able to clean proficiently (their future spouses will thank me). It’s good for them to learn to take pride in what they do which has come just recently. They need to contribute to our family, it has been so nice to not have it all fall on me anymore. They are a big help and I am getting better about giving them praise for their best efforts.
We have 18 years to teach these kids and when I had my first child it felt like time was slower and I would have little ones forever. The joke was on me because I feel like I have squandered a lot of precious time and before I know it my first child will be leaving home. Our children learn from what we do with them, and what they see us doing.
A powerful example of this is my oldest daughter, I have never given her any training of any kind in photography. She has been my test subject and the apple of my eye and photographed extensively for her whole life. I have yelled at her in the past when I was taking her photograph to do this or that (yeah it doesn’t work except to make us both feel like crap). She has come a long with me on shoots. I gave her my old camera and she would just machine gun it and not really shot with purpose so I thought she’s not ready. Well in the past little while when she has somehow wound up with my camera and has a subject to shoot a switch flips and she is a little photographer, giving direction, being entertaining and disarming, shooting from different angles and moving around her subjects. It has kinda blown my mind. She picked up all that from just observation.
So while I stress about how I don’t spend enough time with them I also know that I try to live a good life. They see me serve in church, they see me love their father, they see me read my scriptures and pray. There is also a time and a season to things in our lives we can’t do everything all the time. Yes, there are core things that should always remain no matter what, but there are seasonal things in life.
In 2011 I was very consumed with how I could give back using photography. Finally inspiration struck and in 2012 when we moved back to Albuquerque I started The S.I.P (Service Is Painless) Project.
I soon realized that photography alone would not be enough to fill the blog and so I started coming up with other ways to serve. Naturally my kids (3 and 5 years old at the time) were there with me along the way. They are all naturally out going and will talk to anyone. This project lasted for two years in which time we rendered a lot of meaningful service. I miss service being on my mind like it was, but there is a time and season to things, doing the SIP Project changed us forever.
Motherhood like a lot of things in life is a two-edged sword, on one side you have what your kids see you do and on the other you have how you spend your time with them. You can separate them, they are both equally important. You don’t want to spend your time lamenting your choices and feeling guilt, but on the other hand we need to have clear ideas on how we can improve and be working through our Savior to achieve what He knows we can become. After all parenting is a refining process for us, it helps us learn to let go of ourselves, but is not to be confused with the notion that that means not doing any self-care.
My self-care in a big way is my scripture study, prayer, exercise, eating well, photography, and learning new things. These are all things that when I do them I am better able to be the mom my kids need. It’s really not a balancing act so much as it is tilting, this post changed my view on that and I hope you will find it helpful too. It’s funny because I really should go over this and refine it more, but I have a sick 2-year-old crying at me for the last few minutes to hold her. Mommy hood calls, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m gonna get those snuggles in while I can.
Stop beating yourself up, and just embrace how awesome you are.
Did you enjoy this read? Share on social media! Leave a comment:). What is something you hope your kids will learn from you?
I know, I just did a post about the best mom in the world. I…12 May 2017