Well, Thanksgiving was yesterday. It just so happens that I am feeling thankful. Actually, my heart has been very full of gratitude lately. I am the proud mother of seven children – four in heaven and three earth-side. I couldn’t be more thrilled with what God has blessed me with.
However, lately, I have seen and heard many moms complaining about their kids. Facebook is full of people who are discontent with the family they have been given. As a woman who has been asked to “return” several of my children, my feathers get a bit ruffled at these comments. I’ve noticed that this is a frequent aggravation for many of the ladies involved in PJM as well.
“I’m pregnant again?!? Ugh! I so didn’t want another kid right now!”
“I just wish this baby would stop keeping me up all night with his/her kicking. It’s so uncomfortable!”
“Yuck, stretch marks and varicose veins. This pregnancy thing stinks!”
“I’m so tired of being pregnant!”
“Why does this kid insist on whining ALL THE TIME?”
“When do I get a break?”
Most of us have seen these comments, either in black and white or by reading between the lines. Our first instinct is to scream and maybe cry. It seems so wrong that someone like that can have tons of kids so easily, and someone like us has to work so hard with little or nothing to show for it. What we wouldn’t give for a night of no sleep, due to a bouncing abdomen or even days of a sweet baby’s cry. These people should be taught a lesson in gratefulness for the amazing blessings they have been given!
Yup, this was me.
Let me share some truths that have changed my perspective, and maybe they will help you walk a short way in someone else’s shoes.
Due to my health issues, we waited seven years for our first child. I wanted a baby so bad! I begged God every night. At that time, facebook wasn’t around, so I was content to get angry at the mean moms in the grocery store. You know the ones. They scream at their sweet, big-eyed, curly haired children, swearing and belittling. How dare they? I would never do that! Children are a blessing! I would appreciate mine. I would only give hugs and kisses and snuggle with them all the time. I could never raise my voice at them.
My pregnancy with my first son was a joy. I had no major issues and everything went perfectly. He was born healthy and full of life. I had exactly what I had wanted for seven years. Now I could be the perfect mom to the perfect child. Ha! I had post-partum depression for nine months. I wanted to drop my newborn into his crib and never see him again. He never slept, and he wanted my constant attention. I cried and cried and cried some more. I blamed my husband for my anger and nearly lost my marriage. It was hell. So much for pointing a finger at the lady in the store.
After I finally got the depression treated, had some long discussions with God, and got back some normalcy, we started trying for another child. We lost two babies, right in a row. Really? Why was this so hard? Again my perspective bounced back. I blamed all of my past attitudes on the post-partum depression and again began judging my fellow mommies for their lack of 100% adoration of their little ones. I even lost friendships due to my quick evaluation of other women’s motives. I couldn’t believe that a mom would allow her boys to act like animals, or that she would throw up her hands in surrender and walk away from them.
I was blessed, two and a half years after my first son, with my first rainbow baby – another boy. I knew that nothing could be as bad as my first son who never slept. I was ready to be the perfect mother this time! However, failure this time was spelled c-o-l-i-c. Again, I was ready to wish it all away. It didn’t seem to matter how long I had waited for this perfect family. As my sons grew, they became animals – crazy animals. It was amazing. No matter how much I corrected and disciplined, I couldn’t stop them from being kids and I definitely couldn’t stop them from being boys. Guess what? I even wanted an occasional break from them! I also found my hands going up in the air more than once. Needless to say, I had to do some serious apologizing. This mom thing was really tough!
After my second son outgrew his colic, we began trying again. We lost two more babies, right in a row. Didn’t God know how much I wanted another child? Finally, number seven brought us our little girl. However, this time, I had learned something. I wasn’t going to repeat my past failures. Instead of expecting myself to be perfect, I decided to give myself some grace. I decided to give my kids grace. Most of all, I decided to give others grace.
Because of my past struggles to have children, I may have a bit more patience, understanding, or long-suffering towards my children at times than your average mom, and I may not view every infraction as worthy of my anger and disapproval. I may hug them more. I may cherish the special moments with a bit more wisdom. What others may see as an inconvenience or a hassle, I may view it as adventure. I may even be just a bit more teary-eyed, as I see the handprints on the window getting larger and larger, knowing that one day, they will disappear completely. It will also break my heart every single time to see a mother screaming at her fear-stricken toddler, or hearing of parents abusing their kids. My experience has definitely changed my perspective. That is for sure.
However, In terms of difficulty, it really didn’t matter how long I had waited, how hard I had tried, or how many heartbreaks I had experienced on this road to find my family. Being a mom is really hard. My loss does not make everything that I face as a parent a total breeze. It doesn’t change the fact that my back is suffering, because my daughter likes to be held in a carrier on my chest, every single time she eats – and she wants to be moving the whole time. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m exhausted, because my first-born son still doesn’t sleep well and still demands constant attention. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m frustrated, because two years old isn’t my favorite age. It doesn’t change the fact that I get embarrassed and feel like a terrible mom, when my boys fight and scream through the grocery store. It doesn’t change the fact that I have bad days, I get mad at my kids, and I even yell at them more than I care to admit. It doesn’t change the fact that I have been that mean mom that other women glare at. I have had to apologize and beg for my children’s forgiveness more than once.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you have children, don’t feel guilty for having a hard day or for failing at being a perfect mom. It’s so easy to justify guilt, when we wanted a child for so very long and think we should be nothing but happy and grateful every single moment, no matter what. You know, like especially when that elderly woman makes a beeline for your shopping cart, just to tell you how “you must savor every single moment, because they grow up so fast,” and at the same time, your one child is dumping macaroni noodles down the aisle and another is sampling the chocolate syrup. Hmmmm, not exactly a great moment to savor, I don’t care how much you appreciate your children.
If you don’t have children yet, I’m just asking that you give other moms some grace, and that you give yourself some future grace. You might just regret the standard that you are setting for yourself.
Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2013. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp47p11-29-13