I never dreamt of having babies. I think I can count the number of times I babysat, when I was a teenager, on one hand. Nope, not for me. I had no clue as a first-time mom. Leah came as a surprise. It's seriously I think the only way God knew I would have kids, and needed kids for that matter. (see previous post) I wasn't one to "ooh" and "aah" over a newborn baby a new mom was thrusting into my arms, just sure I wanted to hold. Yet I think I wanted to be a mom at some point. Just had no clue that it would be hard. Ha! Makes me laugh now.
More important than, why, though, is how. How do I grasp this identity...yes, I have an 8, 5, and 4 year old and I still don't feel like I truly own it. I seriously walk around and wonder how mom's can love breastfeeding their babies for 4 years...and say its simply because of the connection and emotions they feel (let alone health benefits and cost-which I understand more as reasons)...or those mom's who's kids sleep with them until another baby comes along or they begin to get made fun of by their friends...I just don't have those "desires," I want my sleep. I have not shed a tear yet dropping my children off at preschool for the first time, yet, and I've done this with all 3. I am excited for them usually, but not sad to see them go. I know, I told you, no emotion. I'm weird. I can't say I've gotten ridiculously excited about any one of their individual accomplishments, I get happy, but not crazy happy. I at least smile. And occasionally laugh. I can however get really irritated. Or frustrated. Or angry with them. That is an emotion they can evoke.
Hmmm. That self-realization has been a heart-wrencher for me. I have NOT truly enjoyed my kids. I have NOT had an emotional connection to them. Maybe better worded, I think I do have an emotional connection to them, it's just suppressed deep down...and as I'm raking back the layers of this realization...I see that it's because I haven't allowed myself too. I haven't wanted to "go" there. I have pretty much lived in survival mode since day 1 with my kids. Like I said, motherhood doesn't come easy for me...and I don't necessarily have the easiest brood to mother. I feel accomplished most days to get lunches packed, kids dressed, noses wiped, floor swept, appointments made, and a shower. I can do all the basic things: fed? check. house clean? check. kids bathed? check. books read? check. I think most days it would be easier for me to go to a job and work and only have to tend to their needs for 3-4 hours in an evening. Yet I am a stay at home mom. Because I feel called to be. Yet, I don't enjoy it? What is wrong with this picture?
And as much as I fear it, my kids need it. So do I. Because mothering doesn't come natural for me, I have to work at it. And like anything new, it feels awkward and forced at first. Maybe even dumb. A waste of my time. But I want to "feel." I want to be my kid's trusting place, shoulder to cry on, come and talk about anything with person...and that requires an emotional connection. So I have to work at it. I am working at it. I can't take them to the park and sit on the swing on my phone catching up with an old friend. I can't rush them through snack time after school, so I can send them in the backyard to play until supper. I have to invest. More than I usually do. Meet more than basic needs with a splash of "fun" mom slipped in there...like an out to eat trip, a school outing together, or a surprise gift. It has to be effort. On my part.
But what has been so cool, is God is helping me realize it can be fun, and easier than I think. The more I work at it, the easier it becomes. The more natural my reactions become. The more my heart "feels" toward them. Whether good or bad. The more grace I extend. The more aware I am of their needs, emotionally. The better I can respond and sympathize, celebrate, or encourage.
And as a result, the more natural my identity as mom seems to evolve and take place.