Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Immense Task of Parenting and Motherhood

A friend recently shared with me her comparisons between parenthood and a job.

Parenthood, she said, is not a shift.  You aren't a babysitter or caregiver - it's a full time job.  There is no time off, there is no vacation, there are no sick days.  There is no lunch break or clock out or clock in.  You're always on.  You're always a parent.

Having my babies has been the most astounding, life-changing, immense thing I've ever done in my life.  I hate to be that guy, but before you actually ARE a parent {yes, even if you have nieces or nephews or work at a daycare or even live with a child that you aren't directly responsible for} - you will never fully understand the extent of being a parent.  You just can't, it isn't possible.  Not until you can hold the little child in your arms that is your own - the one who owns your heart and being in it's entirety.  The moment when your soul literally leaves your body and becomes new in your arms.  The moment when heaven and earth crash together and the world shifts completely and the angels sing and you feel that teeny body in your grasp for the first time.  It is only in the weight of that moment that you can feel the true beauty of this existence.

Parenthood is HARD some days.  Sometimes those hard days are most days.  Between the constant requests, needs, wants, fights, bumps, outbursts, activities, hassle, preferences, and personalities - you may flounder.  Sometimes you wish parenthood were like a job, because then you could take a vacation day and come back renewed and ready to go.  You want to give up, throw in the towel, zone out, and clock out for a while.

I often, often fight those same urges just like every other parent out there.  But then - in those moments - I see my baby.  I stop and breathe.

Deep, long breaths.  Close my eyes and just breathe.  Refocus.  Recenter.

Our children are exactly who they are and exactly who they're meant to be at this moment.  Yes - it is our job to help buff them up a bit to be kind, gentle, decent human beings.  But it isn't our job to innately change who they are on the inside - in fact, that's the opposite of our job.

By seeing who our children are and looking to the motivation and root beneath their desires, needs, wants, and {sometimes incessant} requests, we're better able to meet both their and our needs in that seemingly endless progression of 24 hour shifts - as the days on the calendar blend into months and years.  By taking a moment to breathe before we respond, we're better able to model that kindness and gentle understanding.  We're better able to reflect back what they needed to allow our children to see that we've heard them and we understand their needs.  We're better able to be the best version of ourselves for them.

Because if we see parenthood or motherhood as a job, a shift, a number of hours until clock-out, we're not fully present with our children.  We're just biding time until the next break, the next hand-off, the next moment for ourselves.  While everyone deserves these things at some point, they cannot and will not be my day-to-day focus. As if they are, I'm missing out on the true focus of being a mother and parent - my children.

This Mother's Day, I'm not expecting any grand fanfare for the work I do year round.  While it would be lovely, I'm taking comfort that it exists in the quiet, soft moments between my children and myself.  When my daughter rests her hand on my cheek as she nurses to sleep at night.  When my son is upset and runs to me arms out crying, "I love you, Mama!  Please hold me now!"  When they both snuggle their way into my arms at the same time and hold each other as well as holding me.

Some days {even on the hard ones}, I think that if motherhood were a job -

It would be the best darn neverending job I could ever ask to have in my entire life.

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