The air whispers with the tiny signs of contentment of a two week old baby girl. Her mouth lifts into a half smile, as she dreams of the possibilities that await her. Her eye lids flutter, her tiny ribcage expands with every breath as a small whimper escapes her lips. I look down at my niece as she melts into me, her body molding to the curve of my body. Her head is covered in dark brown hair and I nuzzle my face into it and let the hair tickle my mouth as I kiss her small head. I am reminded of the moment I first held my son as he entered this world. Crying, as his tiny lungs filled with air for the first time, tears trickled down my cheeks as I finally held him for the first time. I had waited so long for this moment and it was finally here. With that moment came a future in motherhood. I wondered then if I was ready. Would the hospital really let me walk out the door with this tiny little one? Would they somehow know I was unqualified and had absolutely no idea what I was doing and stop me from taking him home? I felt like he was my science experiment as I learned to bath, feed, change, feed, sleep, feed, change, feed, sleep, feed, sleep….. It didn’t come naturally to me. I struggled to understand what his crying meant. It was hard to direct his flailing limbs into a tiny hole to get him dressed. At first I tried to hold him all the time, but then I had to put him down to cook or clean. I was hard on myself if I thought I hadn’t spent enough time talking to him or interacting with him. I didn’t know how to find a balance between cleaning my house and playing with my son. Often my house would be a total disaster the days I was especially attentive. The days my house was spotless, I felt guilty because I had left him to entertain himself with toys scattered within his reach.
Six years later and one sibling added, I am still trying to become the mother I envision myself to be. Does motherhood come naturally? Maybe to some, but I am not one of them. My grandmother told me one time that her biggest regret was not spending more time with her kids. She said, "Brenda, I don't look back and think I wish I had cleaned my house better. I look back and think, I wish I had let the house be and played jacks, jumped rope, played tag, wrestled, and snuggled more. I can assure you, you will NEVER remember whether your bathrooms were clean or not, but you will remember whether you were a good parent." I am trying to take her words to heart. I want to look back on my life with no regrets. I want my children to find parenting comes easily to them because of the example my husband and I set for them. Every time I read a book , build a lego tower, jump on the trampoline, or play in the sand with my kids I see myself taking steps closer to becoming the “perfect” mother.
When I envision amazing mothers, I think of my friend Becca. I haven't seen her in a long time, but I use to watch her interaction with her children every time I was with her (which use to be almost every day). She did it without thinking, making it look so easy, like she wanted to do nothing else but be with her kids. That's the mother I want be, that I am trying to be. I want it to be without thinking, second nature, I want to enjoy every minute of it. So, this week my goal is to get my kids involved with what I am doing more, dropping everything for them instead of saying "Just a minute." I am a mother first, before phones calls, blogging, emails, running errands, or cleaning. So, I am trying to be that mom.
So despite the messes, temper tantrums, and occasional arguing, I feel like I have come a long way to become the "perfect" mom. I still have a long ways to go, but for now I am focusing on what I can do and what I have accomplished. After all, who can resist the sleeping innocence of a child, or the kisses and hugs. Simply put, motherhood is not to be endured, but enjoyed.