Today is my oldest son’s 10th birthday. Ten years ago, I was reveling in this new job I had just been given called motherhood. My first baby was such a sweet, little snuggle bug and practically did everything perfectly (well maybe memory does not serve me correctly). He nursed efficiently right from the start, he cuddled up in my neck, he had the sweetest baby’s breath and I was in love.
Before I became a mom, I had quite the grand vision of motherhood. I envisioned blissful days full of hugs from chubby little arms, dancing together, hours of reading and playing, obedient children, babies napping for two hours or more at the prescribed times and on and on went my dream. Motherhood was my dream job (just ask my best friend Kris from college), except most of motherhood has not quite been the dream I originally envisioned.
Because despite my perfectly executed sleep-eat-play schedule, that nap only lasted 30 minutes of which 20 of those minutes I endured the torturous sound of angry crying. (Is it wrong to just turn the monitor off? No! I have never done that.) Motherhood is not always everything I dreamed. In the ten years I have been a mom, I have experienced moments of sheer enjoyment and amazement. Sometimes, I simply marvel that God allows me to be a mother and to raise my sons. Other times, I have wondered where we ever got the idea to have children because there are days that have been hard. Some days are just mentally and emotionally hard like the days we’ve spent in the hospital wondering if we would leave the hospital with our son. Other days have simply included bad attitudes (mine and theirs), disrespect, the incessant requests of a two year old or dealing with the stomach bug. (Did you know it takes 7 days for the stomach bug to go through one seven-member family? Now you know.) So after ten years of motherhood, I find I live mostly living in the in-between.
The truth is motherhood is made up of a myriad of crazy, beautiful, blissful moments but it is also ridiculously full of trying and difficult moments that make even the calmest of mothers desire to scratch out her eyeballs. The reality is motherhood is truly lived between the bliss and the difficult.
As much as I mourn the beauty of my original dream of motherhood, I’m learning to love living in the in-between. Days spent in the in-between include the sweet words and little hugs from the little people in my life. Days spent in the in-between also include hard lessons in life and the reminder that I am raising this little one to be twenty-five and to live on his own. The in-between also includes those quiet moments of living life together, learning my children’s personalities, finding what makes them happy and sad, and figuring out what they are passionate about. In the in-between, I get glimpses of the unique way God created each of my sons and I view the smallest glimpse of what this child will be as an adult. See the in-between holds great hope and promise for my boys and a feeling of reward for them and me as I watch them grow and learn and accomplish the tasks set before them. What I now know about the in-between is the bliss is just that, it is fleeting and lasts but a moment and the challenges and difficulties produce a perseverance you did not know was possible. But the in-between days motivate me to press on, they are the promise of the blissful moments in spite of the challenging moments.
So, today with ten years of motherhood securely under my belt, I am enjoying the busyness of the day’s routine, of schoolwork and chores and I love my front row view of the young man my son is becoming. My prayer for him today is Isaiah 61:3, “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” And I live in the in-between in the diligent waiting for this young oak to grow into a mighty display for the Lord’s splendor.