Mama NEVER Said There'd Be Days Like This

1:14 PMHeather

I've been mentally writing a book for about sixteen years now. Continually adding chapters to it with titles such as Objects Up the Nose, Being Punched at Church, How to Use an Airplane Toilet Whilst Holding an Infant, Things You Never Thought You'd Need to Say, and Navigating the Minefield of Your Child Dating.

The name of the book?

Things No One Ever Told You about Motherhood.

Lately, I've uttered that phrase several times. Because the truth is, mama actually never said that there'd be days like these.

Oh, we read books like What to Expect When You're Expecting, and Bringing Up Boys and a whole library of other titles, all designed to help us be the best parents in the world. But the reality is that no amount of reading or conversation or parenting classes can really cover the gamet.  Because the truth is that raising children involves daily struggles that we never saw coming.

Like what to do when your toddler shoves something up their nose and proudly announces it at 11:00 p.m. at night. Is this an ER visit? Ugh. What about the co-pay? Or is there a way to extract the item and avoid the hospital and expensive medical bills? And what of your sheer exhaustion and annoyance at this dilemma which occurs when you are about 38 weeks pregnant.

Or, here's an ethical dilemma for you. There's a difficult child from a struggling family at church. You know, church. Where you go to learn about Jesus and how to be kind and loving and live out the commands of the Bible. But said child repeatedly punches your child at church. Bullying over Bible stories. Not something you saw coming.

There is no manual for how to hold your 8 week old baby whilst trying to use the teeny tiny airplane bathroom. You're on the flight alone, so do you trust or ask a stranger to help you? What is the proper etiquette for this? But even if so, you think the baby needs a new diaper. Um, how do you navigate all that? Much less, dragging your small children through the airport with as much gear as it takes to set up a fully functioning nursery for the three day trip to visit friends.

The list of things you never thought you'd need to say. That could be a trilogy all it's own. Don't sit on your brother...I don't care if he is laughing and not mad. Don't wash your hair with your cereal. Don't pee in the bathtub. Don't put your hands in your poopy diaper. Don't set things on fire. Don't try to ride the dog as if he were a horse. And of course, the famous, don't touch your sibling...just pretend there's a brick wall between you.

And just when I thought all those crazy toddler and preschool conundrums were well behind me, I'm hitting the teen years over here. As I've previously blogged, parenting in the digital age is HARD, y'all. It's exhausting. Keeping ahead of the technology and training your children how to use it appropriately and how to actually have a conversation and not just text their friends but use words. Spoken. Out loud. Navigating the perils of dating or not dating and what is your family philosophy on this? Tiptoeing through the emotionally trying times of junior high and high school with your children is no small feat. And a million times worse, in my humble opinion, than when it was you. Because you hurt when they hurt and you wish you could convince them of the wisdom you've gained. But you know they have to figure some things out for themselves.

It's just hard. Not for the faint of heart. The days and moments that no one prepared you for. Because, you realize, there was no way to prepare you for it. So you just pray. A lot. And talk to other parenting friends in the same boats. And build alliances with your village so that you are all directing your kids in community and with like minds. And you are all looking out for each other's kids.

While the angst of these things make your heart break and you wonder at how your mama never said there'd be days like these, you're storing up another pile of things. Things of wonder and joy and awe that again, are beyond description or preparation.

When you begin to discern your newborn's cries and you can begin to respond appropriately. And that swell of pride the first time you knew the hungry cry from the dirty diaper cry and you got it right. When your little one seems inconsolable, but yet, somehow you had the magic touch. When those fat, dimply little toddler hands grab your face and plant a sloppy kiss on it with a loud proclamation of, "I wuv you!" 

When you sit your little one down to discuss the bullying, and with absolute childlike innocence they say, "It's okay, Mommy. I think he just doesn't have any friends and it must make him feel so angry." When your children give away a precious toy to someone they just met who has none. And you just about die. Because the compassion and kindness and tender heart is right there, in between the sibling squabbles and the refusal to eat their vegetables. 

When your heart melts at your big teenage son holding a child's newborn baby. And suddenly, you can picture how maybe, just maybe, the years of parenting might replicate themselves in the next generation. When your boys give you a hug and ask about your day after their long day at school. When you catch your daughter mimicking some hard fought habit you've worked to institute in your own life, such as journaling in a prayer journal. 

When you catch your kids reciting some amazing truth gleaned from the sermon, and from your vantage point of the youth group sitting in front of you, you weren't sure they were listening. 

There are so many moments. Tiny glimpses of the people they are becoming. Tiny peeks into the dividends of your mothering efforts. Moments that make you tear up with a sense of fulfillment that you never knew were possible. Because for all your mistakes and struggles and mishaps, you've tried. You may not have been perfect, but you were present.

And somehow, with God's grace filling in all the gaps, it made a difference. And while it's a long, hard fought battle to raise your children and to be the parent you'd like to be, it's worth it. It's so worth it.

You wouldn't trade it for anything.

And when your kids become parents, you'll smile to yourself because you know there'll be some things you just can't prepare them for. 

But just as you've done since the day they became yours, you will cheer them on. You'll be their number one fan, even on those days.

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