Motherhood- It's A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Growing up I remember one consistent thing about Christmas- my mom seemed to get fewer presents than anybody else. The kids always got the most, things flown in from grandparents, parents, and other relatives. Mom always got something nice from dad and maybe a few things from us, but just a few.

Today is Mother's Day and oh...

I have had some awful Mother's Days. One year my husband slept while I cleaned the house and cooked. I ended up furious taking everybody to Taco Bell and then buying It's-It ice-cream sandwiches at a roadside liquor store. (By "everybody" I mean everybody in the house except him. He was left behind.) I then drove until I was no longer livid and went home. I re-payed him on Father's Day by taking a nap and not making dinner. (I am so grown up and forgiving. Can you tell?)

Sometimes Mother's Day has just seemed like a big fat day for disappointment- even more than the usual. Somehow I would expect great things, recognition, a load off, from the people around me and it would just turn out to be a regular day where the laundry piled up and everybody seemed to be fighting.

At a meeting today there was a soon-to-be new mom, pregnant and due any day. All the mothers were asked to give her advice. I wanted to say one thing--that being a mom is hard often for one reason- it is a marathon and a very long one. You won't know for years and years how your kids will turn out or how this will all end. You may not be rewarded every day. The moments that are hard are often accompanied by sleep deprivation, powerful emotions, fear, and compounded by all the regular every day struggles that come in any life even without children.

It is so hard in those moments (for me) not to get discouraged and caught up in the now.  I really struggled when pregnant with my fourth. My third was still waking up every hour or two through my pregnancy and I felt like jumping off a cliff or screaming or doing awful things- I wish I knew then that that moment was a great big mountain, but that I would eventually reach the top. Now everybody sleeps through the night. I get a good sleep almost every night.

I wish I looked at those hard times as moments rather than the entire journey. I wish I had paced myself, forgiven myself, walked away, said a prayer, accepted that I didn't and couldn't control the will of another human (even a tiny one), and just taken a deep breath and truly, seriously, understood that this was just a moment.

Motherhood is a very long journey. It is the ultimate marathon. It will be difficult physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

There will be days, even months with rewards that seem invisible.

But I believe that they will someday come.

My mom gets more presents at Christmas now than anybody else.

I for one understand her better than I ever did. I forgive her more because I realize how hard a time I have without the challenges that she carried.

Today, I woke up and walked the dog and came home to my three older children furiously wrapping gifts for me. Some were made at school with their teachers. Many were home-made little bracelets and drawings and recycled things they had found around the house. I got a Valentine's candy box with all the chocolate spots filled with rocks and trinkets.

Even now, though my children are young, they remember me and do kind things for me. It seems like just yesterday that I felt as though nobody loved me. Now the love they show me is more than I can even open my arms for.

It isn't over yet and there will be more hard times, more mountains, more disappointment and sorrow. But I hope you know and I hope I can remember that this is a race worth running and that it doesn't matter at all how others seem to be performing.

People sometimes (often men) talk about how motherhood is the hardest job. Sometimes I feel like this is done in a condescending way. I don't care for it too much.

But motherhood is hard, but it is also glorious. I feel as though I can touch the divine sometimes- not just because I see the beauty of the heavens in their eyes, but because I am brought to my knees in such a way that I can actually sense the divine within me.

I am so grateful for motherhood, for my children, for this gift, and even for the times that are so difficult for me. I am grateful now for the times where nobody thanked me, when nobody cared, when I never slept and when I felt like nothing to all those around me.

Because of those moments the love I feel now is so much sweeter- both for my own children and for my own mother, and for my heavenly parents too.

Chin up ladies- we can do this. But I think it helps if we have each other.

Hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day! And if it sucked, I feel your pain. Someday it will be better!

Photo credit: AndrĂ©-Francois Landry / Foter /Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


With Woman said…
Beautiful words, thanks so much for sharing! I have just discovered your blog and look forward to reading more.
jenny said…
What a perfect piece! We had a pretty tough first Mother's Day...but, as jimmy says, they can only get better ;)

I just discovered your blog! Going to spend some time here
Unknown said…
Loved this piece! motherhood does feel thankless, you helped put this experience in perspective