It is sometimes harried, sometimes side-splittingly funny, and always joy-filled. But, the experience of motherhood has a breadth and depth far exceeding any one snippet that any individual story could possibly convey.
There is a spiritual depth I never before experienced until I had children.
Much to my surprise, becoming a mother made me find my faith and steadied my spirit like never before. I didn’t really expect this to happen; I didn’t give it much thought at all. Yet, without planning for it, this is exactly what did happen when my sons were born.
I met the beings that claimed their bodies before their eyes could focus or lips curl in a smile. Powerful little souls occupied their tiny bodies, souls I could recognize in their eyes, and feel in their breath and in their touch. Somehow, their spirits were strong enough for me to glimpse their basic personalities, already present, before any other form of communication was available to them. I could see each of them clearly. I knew them from the first moments.
And, something changed in me from there on out.
Where did their powerful presence, their souls, come from when the bodies were still so tiny and new?
It was the closest I ever came to meeting God, and truly understanding that there is a greater plan, something much larger than whatever consumes me at any given moment in time. I rediscovered faith, and truly understood, for me at least, what it means to feel blessed. Those little souls, my boys, came to us from, or through, a power greater than what we truly know or comprehend.
I think for this reason, a lot of things within me changed when I became a mother. I became unexpectedly surefooted, steadier, and calmer than I had ever been before. A feeling of joy, the type of which I had never experienced, surfaced and remains a constant to this day – even when I feel especially over-extended and frustrated. And, to this day, like never before, time often stops without warning, and I feel an overwhelming sense of being blessed.
It could happen while my house is a disaster zone, and the kids are in the midst of sibling warfare. With just one little giggle, a nuzzle, or a special look, I’m lost in the moment and I’m theirs.
Or, even right now, it is happening as my five-year-old leans into me while I try to type (and attempt to complete a string of thoughts). He’s talking nonstop, making up words for his nonsensical phrases, and sticking his elbow in my face as he nudges in as close as possible to ensure I’m listening. Still, he looks to me with his big innocent eyes as if I am his everything, and I melt.
Or, the other night, when my seven-year-old whipped off his football helmet after practice and sauntered off the field, feigning coolness for the benefit of his friends. His disheveled red hair was lined with sweat, and his adorable, freckled face opened into an innocent, secret smile. But when the field lights turned off he surreptitiously tugged on my sleeve, seeking reassurance that I would stay by his side. (Sweetie, if you only knew how much I always will).
These moments don’t always make sense. They are usually not accompanied by great fanfare. All the same, they steady me.
It’s a feeling of surety. I like to think of it as faith, a faith that strengthens me because I can now understand and make sense of my world, of their world…and of my life for them…and of theirs for me. The minutia and activities of any given day are nothing but fillers. The relationships, the people we connect with and touch, are what fuels our lives – and our greater universe.
So, to the younger generation of women preparing to begin the journey of motherhood, I say this: The struggle to find or maintain balance, the temporary, fleeting feeling of loss of identity, and constant motion required to “have it all,” are simply snapshots; just temporary experiences. They don’t show the bigger picture.
I can’t speak for everyone’s experience with motherhood, but for this harried mom, it has all been worth it. It makes sense. It’s part of me. It’s what was meant to be.