the {un}natural mother

these pictures were too sweet not to share :)
when i was younger, i would come home from rough babysitting nights and tell my mom,
"i don't think i'm cut out to be a mom."
she reassured me that when it's your own kids it would be totally different. 
you would love them and care for them so much, and they you, that it wouldn't be as hard. 

i have heard many many times that motherhood is an innate "skill" that women have, 
that we are blessed with this amazing natural ability to take care of children. 
and that motherhood would be the "crowning jewel" of our existence, 
a blessing that surpasses any other. 

i believe this, 
or at least i want to believe this. 
{help thou my unbelief}

however, i feel like, in a way, i haven't been told the whole truth. 

though my love for Elijah is greater than anything i have ever felt, 
even when he's being awful beyond awful most days and i want to cry & scream & never leave my bed, the thought of life without him or ever losing him just takes my breath away. 
he is my greatest creation.
{well most parts of him... i'm not proud of his sassy, disobedient side that i apparently also created... he's my son after all!}

but all those feelings don't make up for the fact that i feel absolutely out of my element most days. 
i don't naturally know how to calm tantrums, 
i don't naturally know how to teach a 3-year-old how to listen & obey {besides bribing with cookies}, 
i don't naturally know how/want to clean up poop & throw up on my carpets, 
i don't naturally know how to make a kid stick to a bedtime, 
i don't naturally know how to potty train
i don't naturally know how to have patience day in and day out
i don't naturally know how to maintain my energy levels all day long... 
i don't know anything!  

tantrums, potty training, poop... none of that falls into a "crowning jewel" experience to me. 
in fact, that's pretty much the lowest jewel i could think of.
not even a jewel. a piece of coal. 
i don't know how to handle all of that stuff. 

but then i realized this important fact that i seem to always forget about: 
everything worthwhile in life takes hard work. 

i've written {many} times on how marriage takes a lot of work.
that has probably come to be a pretty understood statement to everyone. 

but i didn't really transfer that mentality over to motherhood... 
just like we sometimes have too high expectations for marriage, i had too high expectations for becoming a mother. 
i thought everything would come to me easily, naturally, that it wasn't going to be that hard.
i honestly didn't think it would take that much work

i mean, work, yes, in the sense of keeping the house clean, changing diapers, making meals etc. etc.
but more the work of figuring out little boy's dispositions,
understanding how to heal boo-boos & hurt feelings,
knowing the best way to approach bad behavior,
learning to have patience during high emotional episodes,
figuring the different love languages of a toddler,
researching sleep training tips & discipline strategies...
just knowing how to raise a decent kind & loving human being! 

that takes work.
it takes more work than going through the motions every day.
it takes more emotional work, more spiritual work, more physical work, and more mental work than anything else i have done.
{except maybe marriage ;)}
{and i know it will get harder as Eli grows up and/or as we have more children.}

it doesn't all come naturally,
in fact, it takes conscious effort most days.

but my love for Elijah does come naturally.
my desire to care for him,
to see him happy,
to want what's best for him,
to help him reach his highest potential.
all of the love & compassion i have for Eli comes as naturally to me as i breathe in & out.

for all the moments that i wish i wasn't cleaning up throw up, that i feel like i'm completely out of sorts with anything related to being a mother, there are a million other moments that prove to me i do have some natural abilities, that i can do this.

and all that work,
all the frustration & pain & long nights...
like most hard things in life comes the beautiful blessings from it.


~Anchored In Christ~ said...

I'm sure you a good mom to Elijah. Love that name! :D Just takes patience and perseverance. and praying to God! :D Maybe that's why I'm so scared of a decision I have to make and need to make b/c it'll be worth while LOL

Stop by and catch up and you may be able to help me out on my issue I got going on. :D Happy Friday.

Liv said...

I am CONSTANTLY telling myself I'm not a "natural" mother. And then I have to remind myself that it's okay for this to feel like work. Who cares if someone else makes having 5 kids look easy? For me, one kid right now is hard. And that's fine.

Thanks for this post; it helps to have someone share similar thoughts!

Unknown said...

I totally agree with you. The love i have for my children comes naturally, but being a mother...not even close! It's so much work, but definitely worth the effort :)

karajean said...

When Owen was about 5 months old and I was trying to figure out how to get him to take better naps and sleep longer at night I was overwhelmed with the same "unnatural" feeling. I DID NOT know how to help my baby sleep. I read so much stuff and it was all contradictory and I was confused out of my mind! You're right, not everything is second nature!

Housel said...

I am not a mother yet, but I kind of feel that way too. I have been a nanny off and on for three years, and sometimes I get really irritated with the kids. It makes me wonder if I'll be a good mother. A bit nerve wrecking because we are trying to get pregnant now :o

The Coles said...

Um, I don't know you at all, but I felt like you had just reached into my heart and wrote down everything I am feeling. I am a mother of two and still trying to learn what being a mother really means. Thank you for putting it in words so beautifully.