I think we can all admit that being a mom is rarely what we imagine it to be. We either think it's going to be one awesome memory after another or we picture ourselves swimming in dirty laundry and sippy cups.
But being a mom has taught me more than I thought possible - about myself, my life, my God. Here are a few of my musings.
1) Kids make messes...but it's okay
When my oldest daughter was first born, her room was spotless. Toys were organized, books arranged by size and subject, stuffed animals positioned in the window seat. It stayed like that until she started getting around. Then it was chaos. The teapot was separated from the cups, the books ended up in the toy bin. Each night I would look at the room and think, "This is not what I pictured."
By the time my son was born, I had changed by views of reality. When he's letting his imagination soar and stomping dinosaurs all over the Legos, I merely smile and shake my head. When my daughter has toys spread across the room I remember the mess my mom put up with when I was young (I had Barbies take over the living room when I was little).
I still like my things tidy (see the next point) but I'm not allowing the mess of childhood to ruin my outlook. If I don't let my kids play with their toys, why have toys? How are they learning and exploring and creating? I want my kids to view our home as their own, a safe and fun place.
2) I'm slightly OCD...but my kids don't have to be
I firmly believe in a place for everything and everything in its place. I have a set place for each pair of earrings, each necklace, my books are alphabetized by author name and in categories. I used to try to keep my whole house this way. Comfortable for me and me knowing where everything is. Kids changed that. I still keep my spaces (closet, bathroom, office, nightstand) in an order easy for me. But I'm learning to let my kids organize and arrange things in their spaces how they want. I can guide them of course but if they are always moving the craft supplies from my arrangement to a different arrangement, maybe I need to evaluate.
I don't want my kids to depend on my ways to do things so much they don't think or try things for themselves. Part of being a parent is showing by example, giving direction, and letting your kids go. It's not easy and I'm still working on not always imposing my desires on them. But as they get older, I want to give them that freedom. To be themselves and not small versions of me.
3) My house will not look like Pottery Barn...but whose house does (if we're honest)
One of the downfalls of social media is seeing the amazing homes of our friends. I've always wanted my living room to look like that!! I love that rug!! Wow, her kitchen!
Many times we don't think of ourselves as discontent - and maybe we really aren't. But once we see what a 'perfect' house other moms are able to keep up, we can start to feel like failures or that we don't measure up. I remember thinking I must be the only mom who had dishes on the counter and unswept floors. Everyone else was posting beautifully staged living spaces with perfectly fluffed pillows and seasonal appropriate decor. That's when the reality of those photos hit me. Staged. Cleaned up spaces with great light from the perfect angle when the photo was taken. Now, that doesn't mean we can't stage our pictures. But it does mean we need to realize that lived in spaces don't equal perfect spaces all the time, at least in the aesthetic sense. Enjoy the home you have. Chances are the home you're coveting has dust bunnies behind the camera.
4) Enjoy the everyday...because it'll never come again
That sounds a little fatalistic! But it's so true and having kids helped me see how much I needed to appreciate even the little things. Kids are so innocent and find joy in the simplest ways. For instance, my kids love bubblewrap. If a package arrives with a sheet of bubblewrap inside, my kids are set for the afternoon. They laugh at each pop, running through the house with their treasure. Yes, some days are overwhelming and I just want a minute of peace. But seeing the excitement my kids have for the littlest things makes me want to savor the day. Each day will have moments of frustration or discouragement, but looking for those happy times keeps me grounded and thankful.
5) My strength is small...but God's is great
Because my son has never been a fan of sleeping, I lived in a state of exhaustion for several years. There were a few times of renewal, a handful of nights with uninterrupted sleep. Then we had another baby who fights sleep as much as her brother and the cycle has continued. Many moms just say it's the season they are in and expect to be tired. But it can still be discouraging and hard, even when you know this season has to end...someday.
When I start to feel like I can't go on - when I've corrected the same problem again and again, when I clean up another spill, when the day passes and nothing gets crossed off my to-do list - I realize the grace and strength God provides us. Yes, I can't do this parenting thing on my own (or even just with my husband, who is awesome). I need Someone I can rest in. Someone mightier than me. Carving out a few minutes each day to dwell in God's Word and remember who I am compared to God is crucial. It sometimes means slipping into the bedroom while the kids eat lunch. Or letting them play on tablet so I can read my Bible uninterrupted for 20 minutes. Above all, it means not trying to parent in my own strength or wisdom.
I'm sure more lessons await me on this parenting journey. What have your kids taught you?
Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash