My daughter, Lea is in such a happy mood this morning. Hopping, skipping and singing at the top of her voice. It’s her birthday and she has been waiting for this day to arrive with eager anticipation. I watch her and smile. There is so much love that is booming at the moment. A love that is eternal and unmeasurable.
As I watch her, an exhilarating feeling comes over me. This child made me a mother. Knowing that my husband and I made this human, and that she is half mine and his DNA. Like my kids will always say “we are the best thing that ever happened to the two of you.”
And they are spot on, they are the best thing that ever happened to us. Knowing what we know now, life without them would be pretty dull.
It’s weird because, I never really thought of myself as being a mother before I had my own children. In fact, I disliked being around other people’s children. Somehow, they always ended up crying when I held them. I would gladly just hand them over to their parents. Within an instant I would straighten myself up and check for drool and snotty marks on my clothes. I didn’t have the patience and dealing with changing poop nappies and tantrums wasn’t really my kind of scene. And therefore, I never really saw myself as being good with kids.
A year and a half into our marriage, we discovered two faint blue lines. Pleasantly surprised as this was not at all planned. At least we had some common sense and didn’t pose the question “how did that happen?” like some people we know. I was pregnant with Lea, but still not 100% prepared for this journey of raising a child. Don’t get me wrong, yes of course I was happy, we both were. So many couples long for this opportunity and not many women are blessed to experience carrying and birthing a child. What I am trying to say is that I was nervous and questioned my ability to care for a child.
Then this very tiny human being made her dramatic entrance into the world. In that moment, everything changed. My perspective shifted and my motherly instincts kicked in. I went into protective mode as this little person now dependent on me.
Within the first month we mastered changing poop nappies, wiping up projectile vomits and luckily didn’t lose our marbles from sleep deprivation. Something I never saw myself doing. Routine became such an important word in our vocabulary. Stepping out of it, spoiled the entire apple cart.
We survived the first three years; when a gut feeling told me to take another pregnancy test. The evidence was once again on a stick with me staring at two blue lines. Call us insane but hey we were slightly better off than those who popped out another baby whilst their eldest was still crawling.
We had no idea how we were going to manage with two children but had to face the challenge that was lying ahead. When Mika was born our responsibilities doubled. Just this time colic was thrown into the mix. I personally thought going through that experience would break me as a mother. I felt helpless as nothing I did could sooth my child. And that was exhausting and discouraging.
Long story short, we got through it all – teething, the tantrums, 40º C fevers, terrible two’s and the first day of school. We were managing so well that I seriously considered having another baby. Yip, for someone who didn’t have a connection with children before, having 3 of my own just seemed doable. But after many discussions we came to a mutual agreement that two was enough.
Twelve years later, my two daughters are beautiful young ladies.
So, what has 12 years of motherhood taught me?
I was first a normal person before becoming a mother
I think it is important for me to acknowledge that I was a normal person before becoming a mother. Yes motherhood makes you slightly insane. Before, my life was so structured, I wasn’t needed for everything and most importantly I had so much time for myself. But once becoming a mother, I didn’t allow it to absorb my life. I am worthy and I need to nurture myself. Yes, I am a mother but that is not all that I am. I am more than that. I am a person with my own interests, needs and goals.
Love has no limits
There is this deep love I have for my children that has no limits and can’t be measured. It is a love that is selfless and there is enough of it for both of them.
It is my greatest achievement
Apart from all my achievements and accolades in life, being a mother is my greatest achievement ever. It is a lifetime achievement that is irreplaceable. The cycle of motherhood doesn’t end when your children grow older. It continues well within their adult life.
Be a role model
Before a child knows anyone else in this world, the first people he/she is familiar with is his/her parents. As a mother I need to set an example. As I’m raising girls, they will learn from me what it is to become a woman. Children watch and copy. They don’t always remember what you say but they do remember what you do. And therefore it is important that I am mindful of my choices and actions.
Discipline for the correct reasons
I am a firm believer that a person should take responsibility for their actions especially if they have done something wrong. Undesirable actions have consequences. And there are times when big ugly tears are cried. But it should be a learning experience. Then there are time when I just turn a blind eye and I let out silent screams – a bit of an oxymoron I know. But I have learned to discipline when it is necessary. I don’t want to be that mother who constantly lectures, corrects and nags about everything. By doing that my children will learn nothing – after a while it might fall onto “deaf ears” or it will hamper their self-esteem.
Comparison is the thief of joy
My parenting style is different to that of my husband. However when it comes to what is best for our children and setting boundaries, we are on the same page. Our children are aware that we parent differently but we have taught them not to compare the two of us or play us up against each other. We also don’t mirror what other parents do, we do what works well for our family dynamics.
No two children are the same and I experience it with my girls. They are unique in their own way and have different personalities, abilities and mannerisms. One thing I vowed not to do is to compare the two of them with each other.
Sometimes my average is my best at that moment in time
Over the years I have learned not to sweat the small stuff. I don’t strive on perfection and there are times when I slip up. Every day is different and I will try to get to everything that takes priority. But then there are days when my average is actually my best and it is all I can offer at that specific moment. But I don’t beat myself up about it – it is just what it is.
It doesn’t get easy
Motherhood is the hardest job. It is a job that doesn’t pay a salary but at the same time it is so valuable and rewarding. Believe me, it doesn’t get easier but in the process you learn to cope and deal with things. You become wiser as time progresses. With each developmental stage, new challenges awaits. As my children grow old I have to adapt my parenting style. Currently they are at a stage in their life where they have their own voice and opinions. With it comes attitude and resilience.
You don’t stop worrying when your children grow older. Your worries are just a little different from when they were infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Now I worry about peer pressure and puberty. In a years time my daughter will be a teenager and I will most probably worry about boys and whether the temptation will be there to experiment with sex and drugs.
My mom was right about most things
Sometimes I stop and think, oh my goodness, I sound just like my mother. As a child I didn’t always understand my mother’s concerns and her reasoning for scolding or sharing her advice. I still don’t understand her method of discipline as I believe it was just harsh. Parents would first hit and then talk. But my mother loved her two children and wanted the best for us. Experiencing motherhood myself, I get it now.
Children are expensive
Having children is costly. Before and after they are born, there are the added medical expenses. They need to eat, be cleaned and clothed. Then comes childcare and education which is another cost. And as they older it doesn’t get cheaper as soon they will head to college and university. Therefore it is important for us to save and have a budget. Our financially priorities might not be that of others. And therefore we don’t compare ourselves to what other have.
I am not the fixer of all things
Although my children think that I have all the answers because I am an adult, doesn’t mean that I actually do. Many times, Google comes to my rescue. Solving my children’s problems for them when they find themselves in a situation that was caused by them, won’t help them. We encourage and motivate them to resolve issues or make better decisions. Mistakes and failures are learning experiences. They need to learn responsibility and by doing so they develop confidence to handle challenges.
In conclusion, motherhood has been fulfilling, it is a constant learning experience and as my children, so too will I grow as a mother and a person.