As a young girl, I knew I always wanted to be a mom. It’s just what you did. You graduated from high school, went to college, fell in love and got married. Not long after that, you had babies. Then you bought a house. And life was good. For me, it was the dream that I had waited for all my life. Who wouldn’t want kids? I thought God gave you the gift of pregnancy and childbirth and it just worked. I didn’t know a thing about infertility. I didn’t know women with these struggles. As I got older, and hopefully wiser, I started seeing friends walk through this. I saw the pain centered around not being able to get pregnant or have a viable pregnancy. I saw the shame from what felt like their body betraying their femininity. I learned that there were so many other women out there with different stories about what becoming a mom was like either through infertility issues or their experiences of walking through the journey of adoption.
I never struggled with pregnancy. I struggled with a lot, but pregnancy wasn’t one of those things. At 23, and single, I found myself pregnant. It was not at all planned. Being single and with child didn’t fit into the sequence of events that I had planned out in my mind. It was a pretty big interruption in my life, that I never knew I really needed. I wasn’t sure which way my life was headed, but being a mom was not part of the current plan. That was more for “down the line” when I had gotten a grasp on how this whole thing called adulthood was supposed to work.
When life throws you a curveball, what do you do? For me, it was a pivotal moment and one of the most life-defining moments. How I handled this could make or break my future, and it wasn’t just about me anymore. I was making a choice for another human being. It’s funny how those decisions can be much weightier when they don’t just involve you. I was going to have to put another person’s needs in front of mine, and honestly, the thought of that scared me to death. Could I really do it? Would I do it well? Would I screw up this little human beyond repair? I barely felt I had the capacity to take care of myself. How was I supposed to take care of this little person?
I had choices. I thought about my choices; all of them. I was not ready to be a mother and the best choice for me was to keep my baby. I thought about adoption for a short period of time, and emotionally there was no way I could go through with it. I knew I had the capability to be a good mom. I just wasn’t ready to be one. It required me to forgo so much of my selfish nature and begin to think about other things besides what I wanted. Really though, how many of us can really say we were ready to be moms? If we knew how hard it was going to be, would we have ever said we were ready? I don’t think so. The desire would be there, but I just don’t think you can “get ready” for all that you experience. The joy, the sadness, the exhaustion, the laughter, smiles, and the tears. It’s incredibly hard… and it’s also the most rewarding thing ever!
Being a mom has looked so different for me than I ever envisioned in my head. Especially being a new mom. I was so exhausted, and it really threw me for a loop. I caught on relatively fast and it was natural for me; I just never anticipated how hard it would be in the very beginning. It was and has been the hardest job I’ve ever had, yet, I have loved every minute of being a mom. My daughter is the best thing that happened to me, and I truly believe her birth saved me. She set me on a new path. That’s why her middle name is Grace because that’s what she was and is to me. Grace for new beginnings. Grace for second chances. Grace for starting over. It’s a resounding theme in my life and I’m grateful through her life I was able to see that.
That same little girl is now 17. It blows my mind. How did we get here so quickly? It was just yesterday I was dropping her off for Kindergarten for her first day. She is a senior this year and we are about to experience another rite of passage together. I can’t say I’m ready for it. One minute I’m balling about it and then the next minute when I can’t find my favorite pair of shoes or sweater (because she’s taken them without asking) I’m feeling pretty okay about it. You just never know what you’re going to get some days!
Every woman experiences a different path being a woman. Some don’t want to have children. That’s okay. It’s not for everyone. Some have extreme difficulty having them, and it’s hard to watch them walk through that. Some are single mamas who need extra moral support. Some work, some stay home. Some breastfeed, some don’t. Even the mamas who on the outside looks like they did everything right still struggle. Motherhood, while rewarding, is so hard for us all. Not one of us have it figured out, and the best thing we can do is support each other and be kind to each other.
I find myself in a new season of life and parenting. I don’t have the little babies anymore. I’m raising adults. It’s fun and it’s also challenging! One will be headed off to college before long and then her brothers are not far behind her. Some days I really doubt myself and then I also know that God knew I was the best one to raise these kids. My path as a mom didn’t start out as I intended, but I wouldn’t change a thing. That’s kind of just how life is sometimes. Many of the things we set out to do, end up turning out so differently from when we started them. Parenting and motherhood are no different.
My best advice? Do your best and give yourself lots of grace on the way. No one is perfect and our creator never intended for us to be. Have fun. Laugh a lot. And don’t take those hugs and sloppy wet kisses for granted. They just don’t love to do that anymore once they hit a certain age. Remember, no one can be a better mother than the one doing her best for her children day in and day out. They may not see it now, but they will one day, and they will never forget what a treasure you are to them.