Finding Joy in the Moments of This Motherhood

Sometimes I get lost in the mundane of this motherhood. I literally lose myself. There’s all the laundry and meal planning, the owies and hugs, the loud screeching of “M-o-o-o-o-m!” It’s hard to find the right balance between servant and drill sergeant, and I worry I’ll never fully be that loving, inspiring mother I always dreamed I would be.

And it’s all a bit surreal, isn’t it? This motherhood?

You’re holding on as you’re letting go. You’re longing for good things for your child even as you grieve the less-than-ideal circumstances. You come too soon to the wretched understanding that you simply cannot protect them from everything. You are limited, even as you try to find balance. And what is balance anyway? Too often I feel like I can only live in the extreme of the moment.

How do we do it? This motherhood?

The truth is I really don’t know. A mother’s day rarely goes as planned. The interruptions of mom’s to-do list happen frequently, and without warning. There are hurt feelings, bruised knees, and urgent trips to the bathroom. Needs that have to be met right now, and it is all beyond exhausting.
It’s funny, isn’t it? The way any of us can think we’re capable of mothering even one child. Its not as easy as we must have suspected. And yet, somehow we manage. Even on the days when it’s a touch-and-go, moment-by-moment operation, we survive. And then, before we even realize what’s happened, those moments have become days, which become weeks, and then years. We realize our baby isn’t a baby anymore, and, who is this tall young woman standing beside me, and where did the time go?

How did we get here? How did we enter this motherhood?

I remember the twelve long months of crying in the bathroom stall at work because I saw the bleeding. Again. I thought motherhood would never come, and all the longing and planning would go to waste. I had failed, despite all my trying. And then, finally the test was positive; I was pregnant. It was as though my consciousness was no longer attached to my body. “Whoo-hoo,” I heard myself say flatly, “Now what?”

The resounding questions of this motherhood.

I asked the same questions each time our family expanded. Will I know how to mother? How can I possibly love a second/third/fourth child as much? How will I know what to do with a boy? Can I convince him he belongs with us? How will I learn to embrace being the mother of five?
The moment I realized I was going to be the mother of five kids, I was embarrassed to tell anyone. I mean, really, who in their right mind has five children? I just couldn’t imagine it! This wasn’t my plan, yet I knew that the three-year-old little boy sitting in the next room, the one who just moved in with us a week ago, still needed a family. I couldn’t deny him that; even as the two pink lines stared back at me from the bathroom counter.

How do we explain it? The joy of this motherhood?

The joy of motherhood really does seem to be found in the unplanned moments. In those moments when I let go. The joy comes in the dancing, the spinning, the laughing moments. The moments when a simple connection is made. More often than not, I don’t even realize how important the moment was until long after it has passed. So often these moments feel mundane as they fall, often inconveniently, between the truly mundane tasks on my to-do list. The moments when I pause for a smile and a hug, even though we’re already running late. The moments when I choose to give an extra treat, just because. The moments when I close the computer, turning my attention from the screen to my child’s eager face. The moments when I invite them in, letting them help me, even though it takes me twice as long to complete the task. And what we learn is that the real joy of life happens in these moments; these often small, quiet moments of this motherhood.