Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chasing Motherhood- Part III

This is the third and final part in my journey - if you would like to catch up on the whole story, go here and here.

Every day of my pregnancy I felt like I was the first woman to ever be pregnant. I felt so privileged. Even through all the sickness. It was an honor and a sacred trust to carry a baby.

Our first daughter made her entrance into this world on the 4th of July 2002. Just barely under 6 years after our marriage began. I was just shy of my 30th birthday. The birthday that I had planned to have been done having children.

At one time when I was growing up, my mother had expressed to me how she had been intimidated by my little spirit when I was born. I never quite understood what she meant. Until that Independence Day in 2002.

As soon as I held that tiny infant in my arms, tears streaming down my face, I knew what my mother had attempted to express to me. I felt unworthy to be a mother to one of Heavenly Father's valiant children. I knew my sweet newborn daughter had been reserved for these last days- and I knew that her spirit was special. How then could I be her mother? Wasn't it she who should be the mother and I the one to learn from her? It was a tangible weight placed upon my shoulders with the entrance of this little one.

We took her home from the hospital not knowing what to expect, just knowing that our lives were changed forever.

Although I loved my baby, I wondered where that thing was that people talked about. That thing called motherhood. More specifically, where was the joy that comes from being a mother? The love of motherhood. I thought it was a part of the deal. That it came the moment you had a baby. For me it didn't.

The husband had a weighty church calling, worked long hours and traveled often for his job. It seemed we rarely saw each other the first year of our little one's life. I soon tired of our arrangement and poured my tired mother's heart out to my Heavenly Father one evening. I told him how difficult I was finding motherhood. How I felt like the husband was never home. How his calling required so much of him.

It was a prayer with an immediate answer. Heavenly Father asked me, "How can I entrust your husband with more if you can't support him now? I need him. He will do much good if I can use him. Please, let me use him."

I couldn't argue with that. I softened my heart, supported the husband, and found the burden eased.

Soon we were blessed with another miracle pregnancy. We couldn't believe it. 21 months after our little firecracker was born, we were blessed with another daughter. Born on her very own grandma's birthday.

The transition to two children was difficult. I could not find a balance. I couldn't settle into a routine.

We put our home up for sale and purchased another so we could have a little growing room. Our home sold more quickly than we anticipated and we found ourselves moving back into my parents home while we waited for our home to be finished being built.

It was a relief living with my mom and dad. They helped ease the burden of the newness of two little people who depended on me for everything.

Soon our home was completed and we moved into our new home which was 45 minutes away from our closest family. I felt isolated. Alone. With two small babies. Still, the husband worked impossible hours. And he accepted another calling that required much of him. And I felt myself allowing him to serve. Allowing Heavenly Father to use him. And we were blessed.

But the weight of motherhood did not lessen. I found two children extremely taxing. I was tired. I was frustrated. And I was not enjoying it. There were some moments that I enjoyed, but I knew that it was possible to enjoy the whole package. And I didn't. I felt guilty. I had worked so hard to even have children. Why didn't I just love being a mom? I felt ungrateful. I was ashamed. It was a chore.

I wasn't sure of very many things at this point in my life, other than I knew that the gospel is true and I knew that I didn't want to have any more children. One evening I expressed those feelings to the husband. I told him I didn't think I could do it again.

I was pregnant within a few weeks.

I trusted in Heavenly Father. I knew he wouldn't give me anything greater than I could bear. So I continued praying for the strength to be a good mother and prayed that I could love motherhood.

One afternoon I was sitting on the couch in my family room- my two daughters playing with blocks on the floor. As I watched them sharing blocks back and forth, an overwhelming peace flooded me. In an instant, I loved motherhood. I loved everything that came with it. I loved the two little ones I had now and the one that was growing within me. I loved every little thing about every little thing that went along with being a mother.

And I cried. And I thanked Heavenly Father for the blessing of that moment.

And I've never looked back. It was a turning point in my life.

Our son was born not long after. And he brought the joy I knew a baby should.

Two years ago this coming Thanksgiving, I had a miscarriage. I was blessed with peace and the support of a loving husband. We have not been able to conceive since, and I wonder if three children is all we will be blessed with. If so, I feel blessed. We have three children! Three! In the beginning we didn't think that would be possible. And I am grateful to love being a mother.

And that's the whole point of this series. When I taught that parenting class all those weeks ago, in closing I bore my testimony and my final statement went something like this: "I am grateful for mothers. I am grateful to be a mother. I love being a mother- which is something I haven't always been able to say."

And it struck a chord with other women in the room that night. And many of them have approached me and we have shared tears as we have discussed the feeling of being alone in not fully enjoying motherhood.

What a blessing for those women who find joy in motherhood without this kind of search.

Today I can honestly and sincerely say that being a mom is the best thing I have ever done. And it fulfills me. I find joy in my children. They are my very favorite people.

I have grown into motherhood and I love it. I learned that one of my biggest problems was that I was chasing motherhood. And what happens when you chase something? It runs the opposite direction. I had to learn to be still and that's when truly loving motherhood came to me.

I must say it's the best game of chase I've ever played. And now that we've caught each other, I think motherhood looks good on me.


Michelle said...

I find it fascinating that so many of us experience similar things and yet feel alone during the struggle. I love your visual of chasing motherhood. It fits in so many ways. I'm always glad when I realize that I can stop chasing... it gets kind of tiring!

Lizdee said...

Thank you for this post. It helped me when you were talking about your husband being gone--because mine is gone a ton, and its hard for me too.

Miche' said...

What a great way to look at it. I feel I do the chase thing too and wish somedays it would just happen. Thanks for posting!

mom and dad said...

Steph, you amaze me with the deepth of your understanding and feelings, but then again you always have. Thank you for sharing those personal experiences. We have joyed with each new little spirit you and that super husband have brought to the family. We are so pleased and so grateful to be called your parents! laaf mom

Noelle said...

Thank you for this. I worry that I won't enjoy motherhood. I think it will be a hard transition...going from being single this long, to one day being a wife and a mother.

If it happens, I'll remember your example.

uniquelynat said...

thanks steph. i know we've had this discussion. i'm still trying. some day it will come. in the mean time i'm so grateful for the awesome examples, in my sisters and mothers, that i can draw strength from.

you're amazing to me! i love you!!

Nathan said...

Thank you for this glimpse. It's a good reminder to me in many ways.

Toni said...

Thank you. I found your blog from Holly's blog and it is no accident that I found it on this particular day when I want to run away from home. I forget sometimes that this is supposed to be a joy but that joy can't find me if I am trying to be too busy. God bless you! Thank you!

Lauren said...

Oh Steph, thanks for sharing your tender and heart-felt story. What an honest and beautiful journey that you shared. Although I am not yet a mother or wife, I feel the perspective and appreciation gained from reading "Chasing Motherhood" with stay with me through my future years of life.

typewriter heather said...

I love this. I love how much you show of yourself--because we all have our struggles. But I also saw so many of your strengths and I look up to you a lot.

Betty said...

What a beautiful story. We grow as mother is ways we could not even imagine. I want to share a book I've been reading called "Mystic in a Minivan" by Kristen White. The book was created by a mom of three young kids who was inspired to tell a story as a result of her spiritual practice. She uses many of the tools in the book and it has transformed her life in a magical way.

Mechelle said...

THANK YOU!!! There are so many days when I have felt like it will never end. I try to calm down and speak more kindly. Show more love. Let their spirits fly, and remember that a chocolate race track on my couch is a very creative way to express art and the couch will clean up but my boy needs love, not firey darts flying from my eyes.

K.J. said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I have often felt alone, overwhelmed and guilty about not loving motherhood. It's good to hear that I'm not the only one! You're such a great example to all of us!

Rebecca said...

Thanks! I think you are super-duper:)