Sunday, May 12, 2013

On Motherhood

Before having children I heard that mothering is the hardest job in the world.  I didn’t know what that meant, and I sure didn’t believe it.  My mother made it look so easy.  I needed to educate myself, so I read books and asked questions of every mother I knew.  It was an overwhelming project.  Every mother has advice, a thousand anecdotes to share.  I felt like I absorbed every piece of information out there.  I was prepared.  Then my children were born.

I was not prepared. Mothering really is the hardest job in the world.

Before becoming a mother I heard that having children was like having your heart live outside your body.  I didn’t understand.  Love had happened to me before and it didn’t feel like that.  Then my children were born.  I understood, but I felt as if I couldn’t provide for them sufficiently.  Every feeling they had was my own, a hundredfold.  I desired to anticipate their needs, prepare for those needs, and execute perfect solutions for those needs.  I tried my hardest, and failed every single day. 

My kids made unfathomable messes, resisted potty training, and watched a troubling amount of television.

I worried that I was the only one on the brink of disaster each day despite the consoling thought I hung onto since the day my children were born: I am one of billions of women who had done this job with varying degrees of success.  Despite the evidence that I was in good company, I doubted my skill set.  So I connected with other mothers and found myself in the fold of a group of warriors who bravely slogged through the mothering trenches with me.  We helped each other develop parenting skills, weed out unproductive endeavors, applauded achievements, and encouraged each other through failure. These mother-warriors became wonderful friends.

I continued to educate myself to assuage lingering doubts that I was capable of effective mothering.  I read that “Children will thrive despite best efforts or worst mistakes. Don’t strive for perfection, only adequacy.”

This advice suited me; I was never one for herculean efforts.  I adopted a strategy for baseline everyday mothering: survival.  If the kids were fed, clothed, and reasonably clean at the end of a day, it was a rousing success.

I learned some things: there is no limit to the messes that children create, but mothers must be persistent in teaching them to clean up.  In potty training, mothers should train themselves to put potty training first.  Children’s television programming is an exasperating blend of soothing repetition for children and insanity-inducing boredom for adults, and mothers should accept it. 

My kids thrived.

I’ve been a mother for twelve years now.  The job gets harder every day and I threaten to quit often.  I am still learning and am thankful for the untold mothers, strangers and friends alike, who have steered me through it.  I owe my mothering expertise to them.  Happy Mother’s Day, fellow warriors. 

So far, I haven't ruined them.


  1. Happy Mother's Day, Andrea <3

  2. We can threaten to quit? Awesome.

    Happy Mother's Day to you!

    1. Yes. It's the only job that you can threaten to quit and you won't get fired for it.

      Happy Mother's Day to you too!!

  3. I loved reading this. Somehow I spent yesterday reminding myself of all my inadequacies and failures as a mom. The fact that BOTH kids are trying to fake being sick so they can sleep later - with 8 days left in the school year! - this morning is not helping. But you're so right that we need to remind ourselves that despite too much TV, not enough leafy greens and usually unbrushed teeth, they're probably gonna be fine. Let's hope. I have nightmares of my now 16 year old never leaving the house. Guess I'll cross that mothering bridge when I come to it...

    1. When I get overwhelmed with the daily challenges that mothering brings, I remind myself that I am not alone in this, that I am not the only one experiencing this very same thing, and that I will get through it.

      I think 16-year-olds are designed to drive us crazy because the thought of our children leaving us eventually is too much to bear...

  4. What a gorgeous mom & kid picture. The thing I keep remembering, which gets me through, is: "Love covers a multitude of sins."

    Hopefully my love for them will make them forget all the rest.

    1. Thank you! Isn't it sad that the most recent picture of me with my kids was at Christmastime?

      Thanks also for the reminder about love. It does make me feel better about all the mistakes I seem to make at their expense!