Salve

I expected late night feedings and piles more laundry. I expected bandaids and legos and sippy cups and navigating through these all strewn throughout the house. I expected noise and babysitter fees and diaper costs and peanut butter and jelly. I expected exhaustion. And, yes, my life is so very full of all of these artifacts of childhood and the unexpected. And, yes, quite often I find myself exhausted. But, five years into being mommy, I’m just now starting to learn what it’s actually all about. And it’s hard.

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See, what no one told me is that motherhood isn’t just the next step in happily ever after, the one you take to have a reason for Pinterest pinning and registry making and accessorizing with a new, much larger, fuller tote bag. It’s not about park dates or garage sales or dance recitals or birthday parties or swim lessons or picture books. Rather, I would dare to suggest, these things can actually be a distraction from the true mission of motherhood.
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I first caught a glimpse of this eight weeks into becoming mommy for the first time when date night was suddenly cancelled because our baby wouldn’t stop screaming for the sitter. In reality, I now know this was only the beginning of years of thwarted plans, unexpected failures and disappointing diversions. And, I’ve recently come to realize, it’s actually in these very encounters that the purpose of motherhood can actually be found.
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It’s found in the moments where all the littles are dressed on time and loaded up and buckled in and we are halfway on our way to our destination, cruising full speed down the highway one gets suddenly silent and then projectiles his breakfast all over himself and obliterating the carseat with disgustingness and my plans for the day just suddenly took a very different direction. The purpose is found in the moment when we join a playdate and as soon as I cozy up with creamed up coffee ready for girl talk, hungry for adult conversation, I hear one of mine in screaming sobs unable to communicate and spiraling in defeat as he is overwhelmed with the chaos. I believe the mission of motherhood is hidden in whispers when one of my children finds herself helpless in trying to work past her fear to open the door and join her classmates at dance class and week after week we are both left in sweaty tears, in the hallway outside the class frustrated with each other and at a standstill.  It’s found when one of mine protests so frantically, so loudly at his swim lesson that three extra personnel must be called over to drag him into the water and I’m embarrassed and at a loss of what “good moms” do in this kind of situation…
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What no one told me about mothering is that my purpose for motherhood is actually found in all of these in-between moments the ones of unmet expectations and frustrating standstills. What no one told me about mothering is that changing the diapers is only the beginning of the change that’s ahead for my own heart.
 
See, I believe God has not just given my children to the mom they need, which he absolutely has, but he’s given me the children I need.
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He’s entrusting them to me not just due to the absolute divinely enormous task of preparing them for their role in society, although that in and of itself is equally thrilling as I dream of occupations and accomplishments and what’s to come and sobering as I breathe in the responsibility I have for readying them, training them, equipping them for what’s ahead.
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I believe He’s perfectly planned the personalities, all-knowingly knit each one in my womb and then with love and wisdom delivered them into my life for my own shaping, my own growth, in order to stretch the impatient places, humble the pride, slow hurried paces, refine a desire for control, in essence, to challenge and grow me just as much as them. Each mother knows the trials she faces, the obstacles we have created, the weakness we so long to strengthen and each day that passes and I walk in this motherhood role, I realize that as I pour my life into my children, it is often fulfilling the miracles I need in my own heart.
So, when mothering is loud and embarrassing and messy and frustrating and overwhelming and all-consuming, I’ll come back to the moments I’m tracing my smallest baby’s tender features and rocking her in a silent snoozing house. I’ll come back to when my heart melts at the slow curving stretch when she throws two stick wrists with furled fists into the air, lashes squeezed tight in slumber’s surrender, when I’m laughing so hard tears slip out of squinted eyes at my children’s crazy, quirky antics, when we pile on the couch and I’m buried beneath limbs and elbows and fuzzy heads. And, yet, I’ll know more fully that these moments aren’t the purpose, the goal, the reason I’ve become a momma. Rather, they’re simply a sort of salve for the real reason, for the times, the many, many times I find myself stretched and refined and humbled as I myself do my own sort of growing up.
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