“Motherhood is a carnival mirror in that you see, at times, the absolute worst version of yourself, and at other times, the absolute best,” writes blogger Erin Loechner.
And she’s exactly right. Because being a mom is HARD. And sometimes we don’t want to do it, don’t enjoy it, don’t feel we are cut out for it… and feel immensely guilty for feeling all those things. We yell a little too much, check the time a little too often, breathe soul-heavy sighs of relief when they finally go to sleep. And that’s when we look in the mirror and see the ugly. The pinched, stretched, bloated, twisted parts of ourselves.
But those moments of joy? Even the ones stuffed into the margins, squeezing into the seconds, pulling forth the belly laughter we didn’t see coming… those are the moments we live for. The I-love-yous and the sweaty cuddles. The scraped-clean bowl without a battle at dinner, the book-reading and the game-playing. That moment when the teacher tells you you’re doing everything right! Those moments when we don’t question for a second that we were meant to mother this child. That’s when we’re not even looking in the mirror, because we’re in the moment, and we simply don’t care what we look like. But if we did, we would be shocked at the beauty. You should know that.
Bests and worsts look different for every mom.
Again and again, my biggest mistake as a mom is forgetting the gratitude. Because I am SO lucky. The family and friends, the beautiful tiny home, the delicious food, the sunshine, the career I love, the freedom and the joy. If don’t practice intentional gratitude, I so easily forget those cuddles and kisses and giggles. If I look at that ugly carnival mirror reflection too much, I look straight through my family and friends, my home and community, and only see brokenness.
Mike likes to remind me that there is a big difference between striving for perfection and lamenting over the fact that I’m not already perfect. One of those is emotionally taxing. I’ll give you one guess which one. My head knows this, but my heart laments nonetheless. There’s an art to striving for perfection while simultaneously accepting that I’ll never be perfect. Hence the lamenting. And, for me, motherhood is a skill I wish I was already perfect in. Did you catch that? I just called motherhood a skill. And therein is my problem. Motherhood is a gift. I can’t be good at a gift. I can accept the gift and be grateful for it.
And the even more beautiful thing is that we can be grateful for other mothers. Because it is in them we find friends, relief, inspiration, comfort, laughter. They console us in the moments when we feel ugly and regretful. And they remind us of the moments that make us beautiful.
Happy Mother’s Day.