Monday, December 29, 2014

Motherhood - The Best Job I Have Ever Had

I have had many jobs in my life but by far the best job I have ever had is that of being a mother.  Nothing will or could ever match the joy and fulfillment that I have received from my work as a mother to my children.  It has been exciting, fun, exhausting, frustrating, joyful and fulfilling beyond the dreams that I ever had as a child.

My sister Kathy and I playing house.  Mothers wore pig tails back then!

For as long as I can remember all I have ever wanted to be was a mother.  It wasn't just that I wanted to have children but that I wanted to be pregnant and have that whole experience and in the end have a sweet little baby to share my life with along with my future husband.

The day it all began.  August 25, 1982 in Kensington, Maryland.

This quote by David O. McKay depicts completely how I feel as a mother and the importance of our role as mothers in the lives of our children:

"Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life.  The mother's image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child's mind.  It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world."

David O. McKay, 1953 

I realize that this is not the hope and dream of every little girl but I have never shied away from my expression of love for motherhood - to anyone.  If motherhood were a badge, I would wear it on my forehead.  I am not ashamed to say that this was my goal and joy from the beginning of my life to this day and I am not sorry for the direction my life has taken or for the choices I have made.  Of course, there were other things that I wanted to do in my life as well but I knew that I had to be a mother and that the other things would follow along in God's time - and I believe that everything has happened the way it should so far.

It hasn't all been easy and some days were downright rough but each one was a gift and I would enjoy, thrive on or survive each one because it was all mine.  One thing is for sure.  Motherhood is a job that is much easier if you rely on a loving Heavenly Father to be your guide and your aid in all things.  I'm not sure how it can be done, good or bad, without that relationship.

 This was 1986 - don't judge the hair.  Matthew doesn't look very happy with me, does he?  Alex was!
As a young mother I wanted to spend my days with my little ones playing, learning and growing together.  My deepest desire was to be the one who was there to help them when they were hurt, to aid them when they were learnging to read, write and to do simple math problems.  My husband is the mathematician in our family so I knew that once past addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, my kids would be turning to him and I was totally fine with that!

 Such hams!  These kids were and are the light of my life and yet there were some days that they ran me ragged.  I wouldn't change one moment of our history as a family together.
I hoped to one day watch as they grew from baby to toddler and then on to a pre-schooler.  I thought about what it would be like to have kids in elementary school and how interesting and wonderful it would be to help mold and shape them during those years as they are so precious.

This is the time when you build the ground work of a solid relationship with your children.  If you aren't doing it when they are in their elementary years and keeping those lines of communication open, you are missing out on not only some great experiences with your children but you are also losing your opportunity to bind your relationship with them that will undoubtedly be needed as they go into their teens years.  Whatever you do, don't make the mistake of neglecting to give your teenagers all the attention you physically and emotionally can. 

 My mother-in-law said that she loved when kids were finally out of diapers and were able to eat a hamburger because then you could take them anywhere.  It is so fun to take your kids places and do things with them.

I looked forward to having teenagers.  Yes, I know that in this regard I may be considered just a little bit odd but I was excited about having teenagers.  I loved my own teenage years and I had a great relationship with my own parents so I wasn't too worried.  I knew that this would be a period where my kids would either tune me out or totally plug into what I was saying and that this was the time to really solidify my relationship with them.  I certainly could have done much better as I now look back and there are things that I would have done differently but my kids are all still talking to me so at least I didn't mess things up too badly.

Again, I knew that I would need to rely on heavenly help to keep me not only close to my children but to know when they needed me.  We would not always agree but the lines of communication would need to be open - not shut and this time of all the times in their lives would be the most critical.  These years were so important because at the drop of a hat they could change course to go down a wrong path.  This thought did worry me but I knew from my own experience that constant communication was key to keeping my kids close - now and forever.

I remember sitting up late at night talking to my dad and feeling a little bad about it but since I had so many siblings, if I wanted all his attention and to have a private conversation, this was the time to talk.  He worked so hard and had a long commute every morning and evening but I never felt like I was inconveniencing him or keeping him from sleep.  I wanted to be that way for my kids but I am afraid that I may have slacked on this one a little.  I can stay up late now when I'm not having to care for little ones or medium sized people but when they were all at home I have to admit, I was always tired.  

I am sure that there were times when my kids might have said that I didn't have a clue about what was going on with them and I do know that there are some things that I didn't know - THEN!  But I am a mom and we are usually more clued in to our kids then they think we are.  I do have confidence that each of my children knew they could count on me and trust me.  No matter what, this mom was and will always be on their side.  It is in my blood.

 This is the day Alex left to go on a 2 year mission for our Church.  Again, I could not have made it through these 2 years without a deep faith in a Heavenly Father that I believed would protect our son - and help us to not miss him too much!

As they grew to be young adults, graduated from high school and prepared to go off to college and to serve missions for our Church, I looked forward to this time as well even though the leaving home part would stink.  When you get to this point in your mothering you start to really see and appreciate the results of many years of hard work for you, your spouse and your child and it is so incredibly sweet!  Step back, take a deep breath and really think about all that has happened in your home for the last 18 years or so and how this person or people have grown, excelled, matured, and developed while in your care.  What an awesome thing to think about.

Now that my kids are all out of the house and have started families of their own, my role as mother has changed quite a bit and after all the years of "in the nest" mothering, I am loving the "out of the nest" mothering just as much.  I miss my kids, their spouses and of course the grand kids more than I can say but with every new day comes the opportunity to connect with them and stay in their lives - even though it is long distance right now.  We talk on the phone, share pictures and videos via cell phone, text or email and the best communication of all - Facetime or Skype!  These forms of social media have kept me from high tailing it out of my little town in Pennsylvania and moving to another part of the country!

The beauty of mothering is that it goes on forever and no matter where your kids go, no matter what they end up doing with their lives or who they end up with, you will always be their mother.  This is a job that you can never be fired from, never be let go from or can actually ever really leave and this gives many of us such comfort.  Being a mother is an awesome responsibility and I can't imagine how I would feel if there were a day that it just ended but thankfully, that will never be an issue.  

When our kids do leave the nest, we have had the opportunity to make our mark and hopefully it is a good one.  Whatever your circumstance, wherever you live and no matter what your example of a mother has been, be the best mother YOU can be.  More than anything else your kids just want your attention and love and that is easy to do - you can't really mess that up!

Happy Mothering! 

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