Thursday, January 20, 2011

On Parenting: remembering joy

I have an awful lot of moments, especially in my current living condition, when I feel so utterly lost in the trenches of parenting.  It is so hard to gauge any success.  It seems impossible to know which behaviors are normal and which are problematic, and anything that is problematic engenders immense motherly guilt.
Oh, and then throw in the crazy sleep deprivation and distraction that comes with nursing a newborn.  Wow.
It is so frighteningly easy to become overwhelmed.  But I've noticed something.  It's potentially troubling and yet also potentially empowering.
My mood matters.
When I am stressed out and second guessing myself I am usually snappy and mopey.  It's not altogether shocking that my children, and even my husband, follow suite.   When I'm resenting my to-do list it's not really that shocking that my children start resenting the things I ask them to do.

So I have a choice.

I've got to really dig deep here, and probably employ some acting skills at first.  (At least until the sleep deprivation lets up).  I've got to remember to enjoy my job.


But it's important to say that enjoying my job does not necessarily require acting skills in the long run.
Being the mom will always be hard.  But there are so many perfect moments of tender mercy sprinkled in there that I don't have to lie to say that I love my job.  I can choose to dwell on the positive, and it doesn't mean that I'm ignoring or covering up the parts that are hard or ugly or devastating.  Personally, I try to be very frank and open about the hard and ugly and devastating.

But, BUT.....

There is beauty and to spare.  There is joy to be had for the taking.  There is so much depth and meaning in the life of a mother.  You have to choose to see it, but it's there.

And the funny thing is, that on the days you manage to enjoy yourself, and the days you remember to smile - the rest of the family seems to catch your buoyancy like a raging epidemic and suddenly you're all in a fit of giggles having a tickle war or all curled up reading A Child's Garden of Verses.  It's these moments that it becomes easy to remember that Motherhood is the best job in the world.  There are lots of reasons for that - but the biggest one I've found is that it's the job that God helps out with the most.  It's the place where the most miracles parade through unheralded.  It's the stewardship that sanctifies.

I just have to remember.

"Educated women in the home?  What an odd thing to deplore!  What better place to have us "end up"... What more important job is there than sharing the values we are learning to cherish with the next generation of adults?  What more strategic place could there be for the educated woman?"
Edith F. Hunter - via Seeing the Everyday

(provoked by this


Devon said...

AMEN! You put everything EXACTLY as it is, and your gift of words is perfect! Motherhood is the most wonderful struggle, and I really needed to hear your take on your moods. And I TOTALLY have thought the acting thing though. I hate it, but it's the truth...sometimes I find I even have to act disappointed to stay consistent in discipline, even when there are times I'm just too tired to care.... Seriously, beautiful post Emily!

Carolanne said...

Perfectly put. I've been running a mommy report card in my head the last few weeks, and I haven't given my self a passing grade. Thanks for the pick-up and the the motivation. Love your blog.
P.S. That photo is adorable. I love his expression.

pepper said...

I relate completely. Beautiful post. You are such an inspiration., the way of the hummingbird said...

oh - i was going to send your boys 'A Child's Garden of Verses' ,because it's one of Kai's favorites - though i am sorry to hear that i lost my chance to gift it to them, i'm very happy to hear that you are already enjoying it.

Kori said...

So wonderfully said. I love reading your blog and remembering that I'm not the only one dealing with all the craziness that occurs in my home each day. Thank you!

Aubrey said...

So beautiful, Em. You said it as only you can. The only choice we have in life is our attitude. Mine needs adjusted periodically. You did that for me this morning!

The Libutti Family said...

So, so true... and I love your line that motherhood is the job God helps us out the most with... I have a feeling I'll be telling that to a lot of people in the next week or so. Beautiful post.

Chell said...

LOVE the picture, it fits perfectly with the post.

Just want you to know I love reading your blog. I don't post as much as i would like since I tend to read blogs on my lunch break through my Google reader and work has all blogger sites blocked so I can't make it to comment. I just want you to know I really enjoy your posts..

Ashley said...

Em, I LOVE this picture of you two. It is fantastic. What a darling boy. and Mommy.

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