Being a mom is hard-- a lot harder than I expected it to be. I knew there would be sleepless nights and heavy lifting, tedium and worrying, loneliness and high emotions, messes to clean and laundry to do, books to read and songs to sing. But I figured I could hack it since, hey, haven't I done all that stuff before?
In my life prior to becoming a mom, I knew I was awesome because I didn't shy away from hard things. Get good grades in college? No problem. I'll just sleep a little less, read a little more, and use my God-given talent to scrape by. Get off my parents' welfare? Absolutely! I did everything from manual labor to house cleaning to data entry to research in prisons in a foreign country just to have the satisfaction of paying for things myself. Run a marathon? Sure. With a little discipline and some good shoes, I made it happen. Climb a mountain or ford a river? Do you even have to ask? I love that stuff. So when people said being a mom would be hard, I responded, "Bring it."
True, I shed a few tears during pregnancy. And then I gave birth. But that wasn't so bad. I mean, I didn't even know I was in labor till my water broke, and even though I was up all night before that, I didn't wake up Sam to sit with me and comfort me because I'm not a sissy. True, I had a C-section, so I didn't do the pushing thing, but I have it on good authority that the recovery is harder, and I kicked my recovery in the butt. I was up and exercising within the week.
And then Anna came home from the hospital. And if you come here often, you know what's happened since then. What I thought would become easier with time has actually become a bumpier road. Some days I feel like I rock being a mom-- the house is clean, dinner's made, I've been creative in playing with Anna, and even managed to get out of the house and help somebody else. But most days are just mediocre and the few bad ones are really really bad.
I've wondered why that is. Bad days used to just roll off my back and picking back up was as simple as waking up the next day. Now, after a Friday night of spending nearly two hours awake with a sick, crying baby and a Saturday morning of not being able to calm or nurse or put that sick, crying baby to sleep, I found myself in tears, pleading with my Heavenly Father. When I thought of the verse, "...thine afflictions shall be but a small moment," I thought, "Is that it?! That's the comfort I get? That's not good enough. I don't want to just wait it out. I want something to come of it. There's got to be some reason why I'm going through this."
And then I understood why motherhood has been more than just another hard thing. There are no grades, no mile markers, and no raises to track my progress or my success. I won't receive any diplomas or recommendations for reading another book to Anna or showing her how to stack her blocks. The only applause I get for making all of Anna's baby food are her jerky little claps after I give her a spoonful.
Sometimes I think, "Shouldn't that be enough?" Shouldn't I be satisfied with this growing little life who thinks I'm the best and giggles when I sing to her? Shouldn't I just be happy that she's healthy and strong and a good napper?
Whatever the right answer is to those questions, right now, it's not enough. I need some results, and if motherhood can't provide them, I'll have to go elsewhere. And that is why I'm doing this. Because I can do (some) hard things.