May 14, 2012

The Call of Motherhood

**This is M in the A-Z series**

So I just happened to get to the letter 'M' shortly before Mother's Day and I thought it appropriate to reflect on motherhood. It's been on my mind anyway because I am privileged to know so many amazing mothers. I mean, I am surrounded by women who (on a daily basis!) teach me to be more patient, kind, tough, and that none of our kids are perfect. Really, most of the kids I know pick their noses and eat it at one time or another, poop in their brand new Dora underwear, have a double barreled snot gun that you "forget" to wipe for awhile, call you stupid, say "I hate you!", and refuse to sleep through the night at one time or another. There is nothing better to me than to see one of my friend's children misbehaving so gloriously bad at church that we all cringe in pity for the mom as the struggling, kicking, sometimes screaming, red faced child is quickly taken out of Sacrament meeting. And you know why? Because it's a reminder that I am not the ONLY one who has kids that are not perfect and that all of us mothers have a bad day here and there with our children.

Mothers are amazing creatures. And I'm not just saying that because I am one (although "tooting ones horn" on occasion is both healthy and normal...or so I'm told). I can't think of any other job as tough as motherhood. We have to be doctors, psychologists, behavior specialists, nutritionists, budgeters, chefs, and more...and all at the same time. We never clock out unless we are lucky enough to have a grandma or trusted babysitter take over for us for a time. We clean all manner of hazardous, human secretions, often teeming with bacteria, on a nearly daily basis...for free! There is no health code in motherhood. There is no time for a weak stomach when two of your three children are puking and you know both yourself and poor little number three are next. And usually hubby gets off scott free because he's at work with the grown-ups all day while this is going on. And on a more serious note, we take a giant heaping of responsibility to not only repopulate the earth, but to do it with well adjusted, responsible citizens that will be a benefit to society rather than a detriment. Phew! Makes me tired even thinking about it.

It's not even a pleasant job to become a mother. I mean, making babies the old-fashioned way is certainly pleasant enough but not all mothers are so lucky, and even if we are, pregnancy is no walk in the park. I know several women who have tried month after month to have a baby, only to see no second pink line or blue plus sign on one pregnancy test after another. They ache so badly to hold a baby in their arms only to be disappointed time after time. Many of them go on to have IVF treatment which requires weeks of being injected with hormones, dozens of invasive tests, and thousands of dollars. Only for about a 30% chance of success. Some are successful, others move on to adoption or other means to become mothers. These methods have their own trials and tribulations, and I have heard many tales of heart break.

So why do so many women want so badly to become mothers? Why do we, at one time or another in our lives, yearn for a little parasite to take up residence in our wombs and cause all kinds of havoc with our bodies for nine long months, or one to come into our lives via a birthmother and disrupt everything? I can't speak for everyone, but I believe the way I feel about it is somewhat in line with most mothers. And it's because there is no moment in life more joyful than holding that tiny bundle in your arms for the first time. I remember during all three of my pregnancies, the desire to meet my little baby (the one kicking and punching me in the ribs and bladder on a regular schedule throughout the day) was so strong, I could hardly wait for the pregnancy to end. And I have yet to be disappointed in the magic of that moment. Each time I have been so moved that for a moment, everything else in life has stopped being important, and it was just me and my baby, staring at each other for the first time.

It's also because there is something completely magical about watching a baby slowly morph into the toddler, child, and eventually adult they are meant to become. Seeing their personalities begin to show in infancy is both magical and disconcerting. I mean, it's pretty amazing that at the tender age of four months you can tell if your baby is going to be "laid back" or, well, not laid back. It's magic when they transform from infants that can't even see 8 inches beyond their face or stay awake longer than 15 minutes at a stretch to sitting, crawling, babbling little people with definite and obvious likes and dislikes. And I think we yearn to become mothers because the urge to love and nurture a child is strong in most women from childhood. I used to tell my mom that I wanted to have six kids when I grew the tender age of six! The reality of the trials of raising children has reduced that number for me, but I have always wanted to be a mother.

Now that I am a mother, I have infinitely more understanding and compassion for my own mother. I recall once when I was about 16 having a fight with my mom in the car. I'm sure she was right and I was wrong. But at the most heated point in our argument, and because I was a teenager with only marginal control over my emotions, I called her a bitch. It must have broken her heart to hear that come from a child that she had given up so much to raise. And that's the crux of it. We give up so much to have and raise children, something they will not always think to show gratitude for. And a good night's sleep is the least of it. But what I have gotten in return so far is a thousand fold more than I have sacrificed. When I look into my children's eyes, at the love and trust they so freely give to me, I know both the weight and joy of this most sacred calling. I can't wait to see who they are going to become. My life is full of chaos, tears, clutter, and dirty things. But it's also full of joy, love, laughter, and magical moments. I wouldn't trade my babies for anything in this world, even on our worst day together.


  1. Two barreled snot gun!! Haha, did you coin that? funny

  2. I've also wondered why women decide to be mothers. Life is obviously much easier before children. I didn't grow up wishing to have kids, or playing house, or playing with dolls, or liking babies. Sounds strange, but I always knew I would have kids anyway. I trusted that it would be good even if I couldn't quite understand why. Thank goodness, because my heart could never have grown like it did without my babies. Happy Mothers' Day, Ashley. Thanks for the sweet post!

    Oh, I have to admit you scared me there by saying "We give up so much to have and raise children . . . and a good night's sleep is the least of it." I'm still adjusting to the lack of a good night's sleep and I didn't think it could get worse. Great.


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