Now that I am in the work force again after a 12 year hiatus of birthing and raising babies, I can stake an honest claim to the popular belief that motherhood is the toughest job ever.
By contrast, the more knowledge that I gain from my day job, the more productive and reliable I become. I like learning new skills and performing to the best of my ability. I enjoy my co-workers and actually spend a lot of time with them...all day, everyday! But work, as much as we may enjoy it, is a necessary part of life that most of us create a healthy detachment from. We can leave on Friday afternoon and come back into the office on Monday fully embracing the weekend respite but ready to jump back into the work week nonetheless. I know there are always exceptions - perhaps a small business owner who works around the clock or farmers or those who work in jobs that have irregular schedules. But my point is that work is something we all need a break from!
Being a mama, however, is different. Unlike my day job where I sharpen my skill set everyday, I feel like the longer I've been a mama the less I really know about how to do it! Our children are constantly growing and we struggle to keep up. We think about their well-being all of the time, yet wonder the best way to meet their changing needs. There is never a true break from being a mama...never, ever!
I fail miserably each and every day. I make wrong decisions, I am too strict and I am not strict enough. I forget to sign permissions slips, I mix up water bottles in backpacks, and I don't have the tie-dye t-shirt clean when it is tie-dye t-shirt day. They rummage through the dirty laundry to find it...again.
I do not always know how to keep everyone happy with the broad age span of my children. I am definitely not experienced with teenagers (and I have one) and I am very rusty with preschoolers (and I have one!).
I raise my voice more often than I'd like and maybe I get too grumpy and sarcastic. I routinely lack patience and wish I were gentler.
These are just to name a few. But, something a friend said recently to me really struck a positive and encouraging chord.
I have made many parenting mistakes, she said. But do you know what? My children love me!
This has to be one of the most brilliant things I have ever heard!
I thought about this statement after a stretch of feeling especially down on my mama self and it makes complete sense to me.
Being a mama is by far the most challenging thing I have ever done. But it is also by far the most meaningful. I get to teach them about Jesus and kindness and things that are far bigger than we are. I have had the privilege of watching them grow from teeny, tiny babes into the people they are today. They amaze me and I adore them.
I tucked them into bed last night full knowing that 3 of the 4 are in desperate need of a toenail trim. But they were tired and I was tired - a dangerous combination for toenail trims. And as I felt the mama guilt creeping, creeping in the way it so easily does, I reminded myself of this small yet powerful truth.....my children LOVE me!