It was 4:30 in the afternoon and I was still in my husband’s football shirt I had thrown on before I fell into bed the night before. My two oldest kids were hopping around on one foot in front of the TV with little cups of Goldfish in their little, dimply hands and watching something on the screen… I honestly forget what they were watching as the TV had been on pretty much all day.
I stood with my unwashed hair, in the football shirt, with the baby in one hand and trying to type up a few final words for a blog post with the other hand. The baby was fussing, he didn’t want to be put down, and so I bounced him on one arm while typing with other.
My house was a mess. There was nothing planned for dinner. And even though I had been up, startled awake by a crying baby, since 7 AM, I had officially accomplished not much that day – other than maybe baths for the kids after another “marker incident.”
And I was tired. SO tired. I felt like I hadn’t slept in 4 years. And it was starting to catch up to me.
As I continued to type with one hand, I tried to shift the slobbery and wriggly baby with the other. I smiled at his cute round face, moved my arm, and then cried out in surprise. My son, the sweet, little 6 month old, was covered in…. yuck… poop. And so was I. Up and down my arm, on my husband’s football shirt, and I hadn’t even noticed. I was so tired. I was so out of it. I was so overwhelmed with all that hadn’t been done today and needed to get finished, I didn’t even notice the mess that had clearly been on my baby, and now me, for at least a little while.
And I broke.
It was 4:30 PM and I was sitting on the floor, clutching my little baby boy, still in a mess, and crying. I couldn’t stop crying.
Because motherhood wasn’t at all what I had expected. It was hard. So hard. And I didn’t know how to handle it.
Before I became a mom, I had a lot of rules I knew I was going to implement. Like I would always get ready; I would never wear yoga pants and a baseball cap (let alone my makeshift pajamas all day). I would never let my kids watch TV; they would only play educational games and be outdoors. I would always have dinner waiting and ready when my husband came home from work. The house would be picked up at least most of the time. I would volunteer. Attend church groups. Bake cupcakes for nonprofits that needed meeting snacks. Oh and I would write. Write a book…. In my free time. And I would gladly have sex whenever my husband hinted at it… Because all of this is what a good mom and wife should look like.
I just knew I was going to be a good wife. I just knew I was going to be a good mom. I expected these roles to be filled with a lot of love and a lot of peace.
But when I became a mom, the days were long, tiring and hard. And I knew I was doing something wrong. And so I tried to change it. And it was still hard. So I tried to change it again. And it was still hard. And then I thought, “Why is this so hard? What is so wrong with me that I can’t get a handle on it?”
And so that day, as I sat crying in the living room floor, my baby desperately needing a diaper change, my house a disaster, with my unwashed hair and now disgusting make-shift pajamas, I realized I was still living off my expectations of what motherhood should be, to me, to Tammy, in my mind…. Versus just accepting that being a mom is hard. And maybe there wasn’t something wrong with me as a mom but maybe I just needed to change my expectations.
You see, I am trying so hard to be the mom you think I should be, or the proverbial “they” think I should be, or, worse, the mom I think I should be instead of just being the mom I am. The one God made me to be. The talents and giftings are already there. He made me for these children. I just haven’t seen these giftings. I have been trying so hard to make my mommy life (and my wife life and everyday Tammy life) fit into this well-oiled mold I’ve made for myself.
And I had to stop and say to myself, what’s so wrong with me that I can’t be okay with me?
I can say there probably isn’t much wrong with me but more something wrong with my expectations.
I love my children. Desperately. I feed them, clothe them, cuddle them, read them stories, sing them songs, help use every day life as learning lessons with them. I kiss their boo-boos and brush their hair. I teach them how to pour their own glasses of milk and clean up after their toys. They know I expect them to say “sorry” when needed, “please and thank you” when speaking to others, and to show love to everyone… Whether they know them or not.
I’m may not be a supermom. I may not have Pinterest worthy activities to post about or great meals to Instagram. My house may not always be “company” worthy. But I am willing to let those expectations I’ve created slip off my back and out the door.
I want to enjoy my kids and their childhood versus being disappointed with the way I think their childhood should go (but isn’t)… I want to take family pictures even with me still being in a chubby, post-baby state because I want to capture what our family is like and not wait for what I think it should be. I want to let my kids make a mess trying to make pancakes because of the accomplishment that will shine through their eyes when they are done instead of worrying how messy my kitchen will get. And if it means I will be in my pajamas all day, with unwashed hair (and let’s be honest, unbrushed teeth) somedays to just BE with them and enjoy them then that is what I am going to do.
Because motherhood is not what I expected. It’s harder. It’s not matching to my ideal. And lots of days I feel like I am messing it up. But I am going to embrace that motherhood is different than what I expected. Because it is also more beautiful than I thought. More precious than I thought. More honorable than I thought. More joy than I ever knew could happen.
And I will gladly give up my expectations for these faces. These messy hair and dirty, ice cream covered faces. And I will accept that God has given me all that I need, simply as me, to be the mom I need to be for these babies. Because while I was busy planning to be the mother I thought I should be, God was simply planning these kids for me.