After a six day vacation away with my husband, I was thrilled to see my girls when we arrived home. Nothing warms the heart like two little ones screaming your name and jumping in your arms to give you the biggest hugs and kisses. But like the pains of childbirth, quickly forgotten when your baby smiles the first time, so, too, are the euphoric feelings I just described, especially when up for the fourth time trying to soothe a little one during the night. Sure, my girls were excited to see their dad, but after a quick hug and kiss, they only wanted Momma, clinging, yelling and crying if I were to step away ever so briefly.
Now that I am home with my girls throughout the day, they seem to be satisfied with just me, not crying after anyone else, including their dad and sometimes their grandparents. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m not with them, they are usually really good for others and go to them readily, at least that’s what I’m told, and I am glad. But as soon as they realize their momma is “in the building,” they want me to hold them, play with them, dress them, bathe them, put them to bed and be the first person they see when they wake up. I suppose I should feel flattered, but honestly, the constant clamouring for my undivided attention, day in and day out, is wearying, to the point that more often than not, I resent the unrelenting role of “Momma.” I often wonder if my close proximity to them all the time makes them too dependent on me — for EVERYTHING. Let me tell ya somethin’, after a trying day, I tell myself that perhaps they would be better off if I were not in the picture 24/7. WHAT?!? I have stated many times that motherhood is an altogether different “animal,” demanding on so many levels: physically, emotionally, mentally and even spiritually. Nonetheless, it is one of the most important responsibilities God gives us while here on earth.
God made us to want human connection, to bond. The difficulties infants who are left alone in cribs for hours, not held, are real and often pose lifelong complications. How we love our children, even during the earliest years when they supposedly have no “memories,” affects how they develop in so many different, important ways. Numerous accounts exist about adopted children wanting to desperately reconnect with their birth mothers despite having been reared in wonderful homes by loving, adoptive parents. The innate bond between a mother and a child is amazing, so strong that babies can identify their mothers by smell. And He made the relationship between mother and child very different from the one between father and child, not to underestimate that relationship in any way, for it is also extremely critical. However, typically, mothers are the caregivers, the nurturers, the boo boo kissers, and the middle of the night snugglers. Once I asked my doctor why my oldest doesn’t like to play outside with me or play “super heros,” and he simply replied, “because your husband is better at that, and your daughter knows that is his strength.” Well, although my “strengths” are not cool, like fighting Joker, giving pony rides, or being a human whoopie cushion, they matter. (Actually, I am quite grateful that my husband provides the entertainment and fun for which they love him and run to him because I really lack the energy all that requires, on top of everything else!)
Although life for me would be much easier if my girls would go to others when I’m nearby, I realize that all too soon that they will pull away from even me, leaving me reaching for them. When I cannot handle stepping on one more lego, I think about friends who are unable to conceive. When I grit my teeth because my daughter wants to “help” in the kitchen, I think about the future and see her in her own home cooking this same meal for her family. Such thoughts both convict and convince; children are a special gift, and these inconveniences are trivial and temporary. People remind us frequently of a truth I am just beginning to understand, “The days are long, but the years are short.” As Believers, we must remember that we are raising up future generations,through the children we have at the present time, to bring glory to God, both now and forever. So, while they can be exhausting and expensive, they are surely worth it, including those sticky hugs they give when I leave for a date night with my husband.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Proverbs 31:28-29
Real Life Hacks:
- Take a break! It is okay to leave your children. Upon your return, you find renewed joy in them.
- Do not try to do it all yourself. The more you include your husband in your daily routine, the more your children will respond positively to his presence.
- Give yourself some grace. We all snap, which is normal, and it doesn’t make you a bad mother.
- Stick to routine nap times and bedtimes with children sleeping in their own beds. This fosters a healthy independence and gives you time to rest better and to recover from an arduous day. You’ll need your energy for tomorrow.