I ran across the idea of a best and worst day as a mom a couple of weeks ago while I was brainstorming blog ideas, and I was so intrigued by it. My first thought was, “How can I pick just one of each?” I’ve had so many of both, but once I really dug deep and sort of analyzed what I considered my most treasured moments as a mother, both good and bad, I found that I could really SEE what what is right in front of my face all along. My life as a mom of two kids has been an adventure, so much more than I anticipated. Sometimes I feel like I am in the trenches just slogging along minute by minute, and sometimes I feel like I am Superwoman and I can do anything. The reality is that a lot of the time I live a mixture of both of these examples. The trick is to keep going anyway, and learn a little lesson from each day, both the good and the bad.
Funny enough, I can remember a zillion days that have been beautiful for me as a mother. The first time you hear your baby laugh, or when they reach up and touch your face as you feed them, or picking them up after the first day of school and they run into your arms and hug you so tight. These moments bring me to tears just thinking about them, and will remain with me forever. BUT, my most favorite day as a mom was the first day I became one. That night, February 20, 2008, was the beginning of a change in my life that I had no idea would alter me forever. There is always an idea of what having a baby means, but to actually have one? Man, it is scary. And also really beautiful. They hand you this tiny being, swaddled in cotton and blinking at the blinding lights of a delivery room, and tell you that this baby is YOURS.
A blank slate of you will. To care for and teach and be their everything. What I love the most about that day, the first day, is that it was full of possibility. It held a promise that all would be perfect and that being a mom would be as easy as I hoped it would. I didn’t know then that this would be the hardest thing I ever did, I was too filled with wonder and awe and love. This first day didn’t contain any of the burdens of motherhood. The guilt and the questions and the pure terror that raising a child without scarring them for life brings.
I can’t exactly pinpoint my worst day precisely, because there have been so many days that I have made horrible mistakes as a mother. Screaming at my three year old at the top of my lungs when she was driving me mad after my husband had been away for months on end, leaving my child unattended on a changing table and having her fall off and break her arm at nine months old, making my child cry on Mother’s Day in a restaurant bathroom, very forcefully tossing a child into timeout, sobbing over a two month old baby that WILL NOT stay swaddled at 2am, and all the moments I lost my patience and said and did mean things that I would take back in a second. Motherhood is full of disappointment, not in my children, but in myself. I believe the children we get are exactly what we need to grow as people. They are learning tools that unlock the deepest parts of our souls, here to teach us lessons about ourselves and how to be better. Everything good about me as been a direct result of something my children have taught me. All the horrible moments I’ve been through as a mother has taught me something, and made me grow. What crushes me the most now as a mom is that my kids are old enough now to really notice the mistakes I make and see that I am not infallible. I find myself apologizing more, I tell them daily that I have never been a mom of a six and five year old before.
I DON’T KNOW WHAT I AM DOING.
I never do. I am learning every single day about what it means to have two kids in elementary school. I am learning how to balance living my life with being there for them unconditionally. I am learning that my gut instinct is to be selfish about creating a space where I am doing what I love to do, with giving them everything they need on a daily basis. Balancing that fine line of being selfish and selfless.
There are books to teach you how to care for a child, but no one tells you that every single second of their lives will be full of questions. It starts with the basic things, like how to breastfeed when it is anything like what the movies show, to caring for umbilical cords and bathing when they seem so very breakable, to trimming nails without cutting skin and diapering so they don’t poop up their entire backs and into their hair. This is why I love the first day the most, because it was so full of promise and hope.
Then it morphs into bigger questions, like how to teach a child to be honest, drying the eyes of a kid that was told she was ugly at school, potty training, and discipline, and homework questions. It is balancing the souls of two little people who look to you for EVERYTHING, who expect us to know how things should be done. It is struggling for words to explain what life is about, without actually telling them. Because we can’t live life for them.
Each day has some amazing moments, and some horrible ones. It is a balance of good and bad, of figuring out how to deal one day at a time. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. I’m a mom, and it’s been worth every second of devastation and elation. I promise.