I wish I was perfect at mothering. I wish I handled every situation with grace and love and kindness, but I don't. I am human and weak and sometimes that is the hardest struggle of them all. I think as a mother, you want to help things be wonderful and what you see as "perfect." But life just isn't really meant to be that way. Sometimes I compare myself with myself. The self that just had one or two children and could get accomplished pretty much everything that needed to be accomplished. The self who was so much more patient and organized, because I was pulled only in one or two directions at a time. The self who was on top of teaching and guiding and learning in kind and loving ways.
Now, I'm pulled in every which direction. I feel spread so thin some days and so many nights I feel like I failed. Like I couldn't do it all. And I'm really, honestly, not sure I can ever do what I think I can do in my mind. It is a constant thing for me to try to find balance in my life. Balance in taking care of myself spiritually and physically and taking care of my family in those areas too. Balance in caring about some things and not caring about others. Balance in evaluating how I'm doing so I can improve, but not so self-critical that I actually do more harm than good. And learning to let go of truly unimportant things so I can sit back and enjoy this wonderful life that is happening right before my very eyes.
I remember growing up, often hearing mothers say things like, "I don't even know why I come to church." I remember thinking how ridiculous that was. Because obviously being at church is where you should be and even if you aren't really learning anything, you are being obedient and will be blessed. And I know that, but church has become very difficult lately and sometimes I take our littlest one out of sacrament meeting for what seems like the 345th time, and without any warning I feel like I'm going to cry. Because it is hard. Because I leave my other young children to sit by themselves in sacrament and I'm not sure if they are even behaving and there's nothing I can do about it because I'm dealing with a cranky little girl in the hall. In fact, last Sunday I got everyone to church at 9 o'clock--no small feat--and right as the sacrament comes to me Claire throws up all over us. I had to leave. I tried to clean us up as best I could in the bathroom, but it was really beyond anything I could do in a church bathroom. Then a young lady I visit teach noticed me wrangling Claire in the hallway and offered to help. So she sat with my other children (who were biting and pinching each other no less) so I could take poor little Claire home and get us cleaned up. And I was so so grateful. I hope I never forget these tough times, because I want to help people in situations just like that. I hope I never forget that it is hard, and maybe I'm at a stage where I can barely help myself, but someday I will have hands more free to help others in their times of need.
It is so hard to really feel like I'm doing my best, when I feel like there are so many things I'm not getting to. I really want to spend more one on one time with my kids, and I always intend to at bedtime, but I'm usually so worn out that it is all I can do to get everyone to bed and get their teeth brushed, prayers said, scriptures read, etc. It is hard, and it is hard to see my progress as an individual and to see the progress in my children too. Sometimes I will be trying to teach a child and help them overcome something, only to continue to struggle with the same thing for years. I'm learning patience, and re-learning patience pretty much every single day. And learning that I lack patience about every single day, too. :)
I am grateful that I have reason to hope. I have reason to know that I can become better. That yes, I am rough around the edges, but I sure hope I'm getting slightly smoother in this motherhood adventure.
But even through all the hardness and stretching, I'm truly and deeply grateful that I'm able to do this motherhood work. I know it truly is God's work. And all the stretching and years with nights of interrupted sleep, potty training woes, school projects, worry, diapering, endless cleaning, eternal laundering, arguing, dirt, fighting, tears, etc. will be amazingly worth it. I feel it right now, in moments of pure joy in family life. It's not all bliss, but truly there are shining moments of joy. Life is ever changing, with new struggles and trials coming our way. And I'm learning to be more fair to myself. And I'm learning more and more that I'm not alone in this adventure--the Savior is involved and a part in my life as much as I will let Him be. I know I cannot do it alone. One of my favorite recharging motherhood quotes for me--and I've probably shared it several times, comes from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. He says:
"Rely on Him. Rely on Him heavily. Rely on Him forever. And 'press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope.' You are doing God’s work. You are doing it wonderfully well. He is blessing you and He will bless you, even—no, especially—when your days and your nights may be the most challenging. Like the woman who anonymously, meekly, perhaps even with hesitation and some embarrassment, fought her way through the crowd just to touch the hem of the Master’s garment, so Christ will say to the women who worry and wonder and sometimes weep over their responsibility as mothers, 'Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.' And it will make your children whole as well."
I love that quote. Makes me cry, every time.