Thursday, April 23, 2009

Perspective on Motherhood

It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding. ~Erma Bombeck

Tonight, I attended a great friend's baby shower. It is her first child and the host is also pregnant but though they have the same "width", the host is due July while my friend is due late May.

We played two games: "Guess what's in the bag" and "Baby Animal Names". I smoked everyone on the second game with 12/15 right but with the first game, I only got 6/10. Given my three children are ages, 16, 9 and 7, but something about not getting all of them right bothered me. Almost laughable really cause I've been to two other showers where I also stunk in the same game. If anything, that should be the end of that, right? NO.

Each woman that chooses to be a mother doesn't necessarily become entitled to that lot. Many choose to still act single while they have a starving, bawling child. Some chokes their children with so much affection, the poor kid can't talk straight until they start pre-school! Some think that other people are better at "mothering" they feel that they owe it to their children to pass them on. Some hide the pain of losing a child to adoption while others couldn't wait to dump their child or children to the state so they can enjoy life again. Others, are true mothers. Those that love, teach, suffer, cry, obsess and pray for and with their children. I want to be that kind of mother.

Being around young mothers who truly exude love and excitement over their children throw me back to when my own three were babies themselves and I practically did not allow anyone to touch them. I cried every time I had to go to work when L-Infinity was born but it also drove me to be better enough that my talents were noticed and people were willing to teach me the tricks of the trade. At one time, I am my own technician, lead, supervisor, inspector, gopher and Engineer's Assistant. It didn't matter the task, I wanted to do it all so that at the end of the day, I have great stories to tell my oldest daughter, my first gem...

When J-Pony was born, I felt like I couldn't do anything right. I fumbled with her baby gadgets, I dropped her twice (minor) but I felt so horrible that I'd call my MIL crying as if something truly horrible happened. I was ready to fight anyone that got near her after an 18-hour Christmas Day ordeal at a hospital when she accidentally swallowed a penny that got lodged horizontally. I became more determined to stay at home and be with my two baby girls. I walked L to school, I picked her up, library trips, reading time, nightly rites and all that bonding jazz that you hear about and I taught them, I mean taught them everything I knew to gauge how well they are doing. And I loved every minute of it!

But by the time I was pregnant with I-Dude, I was utterly exhausted but I knew another was supposed to join our family. I was excited to tell Mr. Man that we should have another baby and try for a boy. Moving to Arizona was so hard on my system that I was sick for months! It wasn't an easy pregnancy as my back was always hurting, my mind was on missing my mom in California and caring for a 2 1/2- year old girl who can tell you what's on her mind anytime of the day. I didn't dare try to potty train her at that age! I simply didn't have the energy. After I-Dude was born, we quickly found that he would be our most challenging child. He was badly jaundiced when it was time to bring him home. We had to re-arrange some of the furniture to place him at the most sunny spot so that he can stop looking yellowish though I really couldn't tell since he had the most beautiful olive skin tone. He got sick a few months later- back to back pneumonia then as if we are being teased after he turned one, he started losing weight then stopped growing! He stayed at 5th percentile for height for two years! Then of course there's the food allergies that now evolved to all nuts. But he is a gorgeous little boy. My baby boy...

Back to motherhood... I know of my own journey and have vaguely seen or heard barely enough of others'. But it was enough for me to accept that what may seem enough to some mothers is just a start for me. I love teaching my children everything and anything while also allowing them to learn on their own. It's not a perfect system as I am not perfect or the fact that life has a way of testing out my structure. L-Infinity now has too many things going on that patience is not her best virtue when it comes to asking for help while J-Pony still gets in trouble for saying what's on her mind. She definitely has spunk that one! I-Dude is becoming more aware of all of his differences with his classmates but still gets lost in the fun of the game that stopping almost brings him to tears. It is hard most on me when life takes me away from reading with them or my distracted self gets them in trouble because they chose to exercise their "free agency" on the cat or their bedroom (clean clothes as rugs for example). I know I can't be there all of the time, but I often ask myself if what I'm doing for and giving to them are enough to help them reach their divine potential. I'm not worried about their earthly potentials, as they need to stretch themselves to reach those along with my teachings.

My nightly prayers are for their safety, health and friendships. I thank Heavenly Father for my children's great ability to find friends and have the same friends like them enough to "hang out" near our home so I can help watch them without being a "mom" by being outside looking for them and dampening their fun. My mind then wanders to other moms and how they justify the ways they are raising their children. I am a people observer, and when I like something, I use it in my own family and get their response to see if it works better or worst. I watch mothers' interaction with their children. There are some characters out there thinking that toughening up their children mean a daily dose of cussing and name calling. Or hours of non-supervision to help them mature up in no time. Of those that are really good, you see that their children come to them and no matter how young, "speak" highly of them through physical exchanges of verbal and non-verbal cues. I smile at those people...

Often, when my daughters were asked who their hero is, I find myself hearing or reading that it's me that they look up to. It is mostly because I cook good enough food and can help them locate socks, but if you ask them, they will say, it's because, "when I come home after school, my mom will be there". Their friends ask them why we have so many time restrictions which gives birth to questions of "why can't we be..." or "if I do this, can I". I'm not heartless, I'm structured, so when they complain, I explain and re-explain. But other children not of our faith, not of our structure often reveal to my children, you have the coolest mom. Why? Because I stay home, not that I do not approve of working moms, I used to be one, but what other children see are the structured nights of togetherness and excitement of being together that we display and live.

We eat together, we play together, Mondays are FHE and Fridays are Movie and Soda night. Sunday is church time and no TV until 6PM. Desserts are a treat and reading is a must. Homeworks come first but is open for negotiation for moral lessons in responsibility. But still, I feel I am not doing enough. Why because those are temporal things. I can do more divine teaching moments with my children. We can read more scriptures and discuss parables. I can do more to help them be spiritually strong. I can do more...

So tonight, when I went to my friend's first ever baby shower, I wonder what "more" things she will do for her child. What divine truths will she introduce her to. What temporal things will she focus on as her child starts to ask about the world? We were asked to leave a poem or advice using the letters of her child's potential name. I used one word for each letter but what quickly came to me are the same things I've been trying to do for my own children- love them more as my Heavenly Father loves me... Because they are worth more than what I give them now and it is my duty to do more...

I also want to be like Erma Bombeck when she said:

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me".

8 comments:

Lara said...

Carolyn, you are a wonderful, wonderful example of what a mother should be. I have felt that from the very first time I met you. I remember it really well, too. When we came as an RS Presidency to meet you when you first moved in, and you talked so much about your kids and what kinds of things you did with them.

And remember when we did the little playgroup party for I's and Chloe's birthdays? I really admired all the effort you put into it, while I was just happy with a cake. You inspired me to be a better mom. :)

Terry said...

Dear Sweet Lady in Christ.
While we have never met in person your Mother's heart and soul ring loud and clear in your words on your blog.you are a treasure.
Be blessed and keep up the good work which our Lord has begun in your life as a mother.
By the way you never stop being a Mom so you will continue to have a lifetime to learn ,grow and flourish in the ways of Mothering according to Our Father ,
The Lord Bless Thee and Continue on with the work He has begun in your life.
Have a grace filled weekend.

Amy said...

What a beautiful post. Yes, motherhood really is a journey isn't it. I also remember those first days of being a mom. It really was hard. I was afraid I was going to do something wrong for sure. Little did I know though that, for me, the hardest part of being a mom so far has been letting go. My kids are now 25 and 21. Being a mom is a lot different now, but still a journey. I loved your post! Amy

Chandy said...

Thank you Lara, I needed to hear that...

Terry, thank you so much for the kinds words.

Amy, I so agree, letting go will be the hardest for me soon enough. Thank you!

Noah's Mommy said...

What a lovely post....being a mother is the most amazing and fulfilling thing....truly....Happy SITS day

Chandy said...

Noah's Mommy, I so agree! Thank you for stopping by!

carma said...

A very nice post and a good contrast to my gas mask one :D Thanks for visiting my site!
carma

Chandy said...

Carma, thank you for visiting!