From the moment I heard the news that a child was growing within me, the excitement was that of a sheer, unexplainable joy. We purposely waited six years after being married to begin our family. Part of it resulted from having a busy life, enjoying what we now consider freedom, but also the fear of whether I would be a good mom.
There are no guarantees in life. All we have in front of us are opportunities with choices we make. With our choices come different types of responsibility along with a variety of challenges. Adding children to our path in life was no exception. If anything, it might be the most challenging, yet at the same time the most rewarding.
We were blessed with three daughters. And when I say “blessed” I’m stating that from the moment I knew there was life within me and kicking within my belly, to when they entered their adult years and into the world on their own, my life has been more enriched than I could have ever imagined.
I sit here smiling as I remember my husband caressing my belly as they would move their feet across my belly, or even the first time I would hear their heart beat at the doctors’ office. The amazing sense of love I had for each daughter as they entered the world was unmistakable. The pain of delivery was a passing thought when I first laid eyes on them while embracing them for the first time. A mom has not ability to forget this joy. Sure, I remember the pain from each birth, how long their labor was, but as in many things in life, we endure some pain in order to feel and experience the real joy in life.
My daughters are now 18, 24, and 26 and even typing out those ages, I’m amazed at how quickly time passed where I now get to enjoy the beautiful young women they have grown to be. Who would have imagined disciplining or giving that “mother’s look” when they did wrong, would actually not harm them? My biggest fear in raising our daughters was that of hurting them, but also that they would not enjoy coming home. As a result of this fear, my biggest struggle in raising our daughters was that of having a balance of being a loving and devoted mom while needing to love them enough to discipline when necessary.
Biting one child back after she bit me was the best thing I could have done for her. She never bit another person. Sending any of our daughters to their room to “think about what they had done” I soon discovered was not the best of punishments for our girls, as they would pick up a book and enjoy that time alone. Once I discovered this, the punishment that hurt the worse, most especially for our oldest, was that she had to sit in a room with no books around her. Not in a corner, but just sit on the chair. Let’s just say, punishing our children was one of the most painful experiences I had as a mom, but the “no book” option made me giggle. As previously mentioned, I never wanted my children to ever be hurt, and it felt like I was inflicting the worse of pain on them when it deemed a punishment was necessary. But, I knew in my heart it was actually the best thing for them.
Each daughter came with their own personality. Our oldest was stubborn as well as determined. Our second was cuddly with a huge, loving heart, along as observant in what was going around her. Our youngest on the other hand was more laid back, took her time to achieve the infant and toddler growth goals despite her ability to do each task. All three were full of love and enjoyed family and time spent with one another.
What each daughter brought into this world was a reflection of me, as well as my husband. Anyone who knows me, depending on the circumstances, I can be quite stubborn and determined, yet my heart beats with love for everyone I meet. The joy in sharing a hug with someone I love and care about warms me deeper than one could imagine. And through time, I have discovered that spilt milk is more an inconvenience rather than detrimental to the time I have available with those I love.
The next set of painful experiences occurred when it came to friendships. Regardless of age, everyone comes with their own background and personality. Some are insensitive, mean spirited, kind, loveable, forgetful, selfish, etc. No one can determine what a real friend is until they go through all the trials of being hurt. No matter how often I tried to explain, that “true” friendship is something that is earned over time, it doesn’t quite make sense to a young child. Plus, some friendships are meant for a moment in time. To share with them that many times people have one, maybe two real good friends they will be able to count on in life, was hard for them to comprehend. So, each friendship that ended in pain, my heart would break with a desire to fix what I knew I couldn’t fix.
As the girls left for college, my experience was different for each. Our oldest was ready to live her life with her wings spread wide. I told myself that we taught her well, she was responsible, considerate and with great potential. What I experienced was something totally different. I wasn’t ready for her to leave, or make choices on her own without my help, or the need to rebel so that she could find out who she needed to be. As our next daughter left for college, we were thrilled that she would be closer to home, as it gave her what she needed when she needed to come home, yet also a balance for her personality as she adjusted to the independence of being out on her own. At this point, I was learning to let go and be okay with what I could not control. Now we have our youngest, in her freshman year far enough away where she can’t come home every weekend yet close enough for a phone call. I’ve allowed her wings to expand as I sit back in the nest, always available for when she needs advice, or someone to talk to, but never forcing her to do things “my way”, but rather to experience life cautiously.
Over time, I have relaxed and accepted that what my daughters want and need now, is that I just be available for them, time for that “need to talk to mom” phone call, a good hug when we are close, and accept them for who they are and their choices. Both my husband and I have learned to sit back and watch, observe and give advice, yet allow them to make mistakes, at least for a time where we know it won’t hurt them. They don’t necessarily want to hear what we have to say when we see “danger”, as they have each told us they want to make their own mistakes in life, but they know to respect us so that they will at least listen. We take the chance that the love we have built over time, will allow them to see the love that is in our hearts. We would rather see our children hurt now than for them to endure lifelong regrets because we never took the time to be truthful.
Being a mom brings about a combination of joy, pain and love. It starts the moment they start growing in our womb and never ends when they leave. It actually grows deeper and beyond any love I ever thought possible. My heart hurts for them when they are in pain or in the path of danger, yet my heart jumps for joy and skips a beat when I hear their voice, as well as when we embrace. I treasure the moments we spend together, talking, giggling and sharing of memories. Every day brings about another memory to cherish.
A mother’s heart never stops beating for the love she has for her children. A mother’s love lasts a lifetime.
Embrace your children and embrace them with love.