Some Things I Have Learned About Being a Mom by Shawni

08 May 2012

our first guest poster for the week, is Shawni! She is a mom to 5 and blogs at 71 Toes. In her own words, her “blog has become a way to share photography and parenting ideas, to promote the joy of motherhood, and has been a huge comfort as we have dealt with various issues involving our daughter's syndrome diagnosis.”
shawni 4

I grew up with stars in my eyes about motherhood. I daydreamed about my future family on a continual basis. I pictured my children all lined up in a row, perfectly groomed with matching outfits. Their hair would be perfectly in place and of course there would never be any arguing. 

In my dreams I never pictured that I’d have a baby with reflux that would result in this:shawni 3 (2)

And I forgot to factor in the whole tantrum thing.
I never calculated how tough it would be to try to keep my cool in a grocery store 
with a daughter who looks like this:
shawni 1

I didn’t factor in that my teenagers would have their own opinions about things or that they may not be delivered into my care being thoughtful of others and knowing how to make good decisions. I didn’t know how emotionally draining it would be to help them maneuver through life, sometimes letting them fail to help them grow. 

I was unaware of how draining it would be to try to get five sets of teeth brushed, 50 toenails clipped, and multiple heads of hair done on a regular basis. And I certainly didn't factor in the herculean efforts of balance and determination it would take to really "be there" for a husband and five children…all the time, right smack-dab in the middle of a life filled to the brim with busy-ness.
But one of the very biggest epiphanies I have had as a mother is that that motherhood joy I dreamed about all those years ago doesn’t come in monumental packages. No, it does not manifest itself in the sterile disguise of those matching outfits or even those perfect manners I had hoped for.
I have discovered that motherhood joy is most often found in the small moments. Not the monumental ones. 

I remember one afternoon on a road trip with my family. No one had slept, the children had had their share of fighting in the car, and everyone was hungry and needed to use the bathroom. We pulled over to the closest place we could…some fast-food hamburger place where the children piled out of the car to stretch. We found a little cement table where we laid out our “gourmet” meal. As I sat there, completely frazzled, I looked around at my children. Their faces were smudged and dirty.

But somehow the way that sun caught their impressively disarrayed hair spoke to me. It was as if they each wore a glowing halo. I sat there on that bench as my heart filled to the very brim with love for them. For what I get to do as their mother. For what I learn from them each day. For the opportunity I have to “do hard things” and fend for them each day. 

That moment of stillness (along with many others I have engraved into my memory) helped me identify my motherhood joy. 

I get to be a mother. 

Sure, not all “moments” in motherhood are going to be good ones. Some days it seems the only moments are the crazy ones...not the ones that make time stand still and turn my heart to mush.
But if we step back and not take it all quite so seriously we realize that life is good.
So very good.
And that brings the joy into even the craziest memories.
I love this quote:

"When you are exasperated by interruptions, try to remember that their very frequency may indicate the value of your life. Only people who are full of help and strength are burdened by other persons' needs. The interruptions which we chafe at are the credentials of our indispensability. The greatest condemnation that anybody could incur - and it is a danger to guard against - is to be so independent, so unhelpful, that nobody ever interrupts us, and we are left comfortably alone."
from The Anglican Digest

Those interruptions to what could otherwise be sweet moments can be our "moments" as well. And it all works together to make up the beautiful tapestry of motherhood we are weaving day-by-day, crazy minute by crazy minute.

In my mind there is nothing quite so good as to be a Mother…the one who is interrupted the most. And I must cherish those moments of interruptions while they last. Because before I know it these children will grow up and leave off to create their own stories, and I'll be left with just the memories of all those life-enriching interruptions echoing through my house.

How I hope we can all freeze those moments of stillness and weave them beautifully into our own tapestries of motherhood to bring true joy.
shawni 3

1 comment

  1. Hi Shawni, I loved reading about how you stayed positive through all the really hectic stuff like spit ups and tantrums, and could say, "I have discovered that motherhood joy is most often found in the small moments." Those memories will warm your heart and keep you company long after the children are grown and the nest is empty.

    I have a request -- I am always looking for really nice pictures to illustrate the articles on my parenting website, and wondered if you would give me permission to use the bottom picture, where you are "nose to nose" with your little one. And if "yes" what link or caption you would like me to put in the credit line. You can check out my site if you wish -- www(dot)parenting-with-love(dot)com Thanks!


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