Thursday, August 27, 2015

Oh, The Joys of Motherhood

You may have heard the following spiel (or one much like it) dozens of times before:

I'd been up with LO all night because she's teething. In the morning, I wake up to discover she had a gigantic poop that soaked through her diaper, onesie, swaddle, sheet, and mattress pad. While changing her, I realize that I forgot to roll the laundry over last night (hello, mildew!), and have no clean underwear. Just as this realization hits me, so does my toddler, making me drop the poopy diaper right onto the floor. To top it all off, the toddler is covered in my brand-new lipstick. Oh, the joys of motherhood!

I don't know about you, but such nightmarish anecdotes sound anything but joyous. Why are we so bent on sharing the worst of motherhood and then insisting it's the best thing ever? Despite this albeit humorous scenario, it's fascinating that we try to one-up each other with the worst stories of mothering.

Two Mommy Problems

I recently read this post on how mothers often share the negative aspects of motherhood, thus scaring newly married women away from wanting to start a family. And I wholeheartedly agree with this author. How can we expect younger or just married friends to want to have a family when all they hear from us are complaints of exhaustion, frustration, and chaos?

Don't get me wrong, I'm as guilty as the next tired mommy. But I think there's definitely something to be said for making a point to share those oh-so-special moments that flood your heart with joy.

Then again, we seem to be developing somewhat of an opposing issue on social media. This report shows just one example of how moms (and women in general) feel pressured to be perfect, and how social media has increased that stress.

So here we have two problems: 1) sharing only the negative so that we scare others away from motherhood, and 2) sharing only the positive so that we discourage others who feel less than perfect.

Both issues cause women to either want to distance themselves from motherhood, or feel that they are failing in it. Satan is the great liar, and he wants nothing more than to discourage the women of today from starting families, or discouraging those who already have them.

Finding Balance

How can we as women and mothers find the balance between sharing good things, and sharing them without causing others to feel like less? Obviously you can't control how people feel, but I believe it's possible to share goodness without putting ourselves up on a pedestal. I also think it's appropriate to share ridiculous snippets of our chaotic lives for humor's sake, but in the right spirit.

In The Book of Mormon, Ammon helps us understand this lesson when he's rejoicing in the Lord and their recent missionary accomplishments in Alma 26. As Ammon shares his joy, his brother Aaron starts to get a little uncomfortable, kind of saying, "slow down there, buddy. Don't let your head get too big."

10 And it came to pass that when Ammon had said these words, his brother Aaron rebuked him, saying: Ammon, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting.

11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.

12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

As long as we rejoice in the Lord and acknowledge Him, it's appropriate to share our joy. We as wives and mothers work hard, but we achieve nothing without our Savior Jesus Christ. Let's make sure to give Him credit as we share goodness and joy.

A Few of My Joys

To this end, I want to share a few of my joys in my nearly four whole months as a new mother:

The birth: my labor was not easy, and I don't think they often are. Then again, many have had much more difficult birthing experiences than I.

All I know is that the birth of my son was one of the most special, taxing, and spiritual experiences of my life. I'll never forget hearing his first cry, and the unfettered joy I felt knowing that my son had finally come into the world. And later, as I held his tiny body close to mine, all was right and beautiful.

The perspective: Although I can't see things as my son does, his existence gives me a new outlook on life altogether. I bask in his fascination and the way he marvels at the simplest things. To be a little baby and see things simply would be a great blessing.

The closeness: Whether it's feeding my little one or just cuddling him in the rocking chair, these moments are priceless. His warmth gives me strength and courage to do the hard things, and to be a better person.

The smiles: There's nothing quite like meeting your baby's eyes and seeing recognition dawn on their face just as they break into a huge grin. You are their world, and although your joy might be a little selfish, it's so special to know that you matter to them.

The laughs: There's a reason why people joke about baby laughs having magical powers. They're just, well, magical. Once you hear your baby laugh, it becomes one of your top goals to make them happy enough to laugh again and again. Because that sound alone tells you they love being with you, and share in your joy.

The beauty: every mother thinks their child is the most beautiful creature they've ever seen. Whether it's biology or something more spiritual, we can see the real beauty in our children. Perhaps this is one reason why God gives us children: so we can get a small sense of how he sees us.

I thank God every day for letting me be a mom to this wonderful, precious boy.

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