Monday, July 21, 2014

{Real Mom Life} Self Denial

Motherhood is one long college course in which I attend class all day, every day. Except rather than sitting in a desk dilligently taking notes in my pristine, unwrinkled notebook with my brand new gel pen that assists in creating the perfect curly-qs on my Ys, I'm hip deep in the messy, grungy middle of it all taking field notes in a damp, tattered journal with fly-away pages and a dull stub of a pencil with no eraser. In other words, though I'm learning daily, I'm barely hanging on by the seat of my pants and only just managing to digest and commit to memory what I've learned. 

My newest revelation has come from hard-won daily battles. I should rephrase that. Hard-fought daily battles. Not won. Never won. {When do parents start winning?} And the revelation is as follows:: 

If motherhood could be summed up in two words it would be this-- Self Denial.

Always, relentless, day in and day out, never stopping, never ending self denial. {Can I get an amen?}

It's been a hard lesson to learn. I've been resistant. Very resistant. I haven't wanted to accept this fact. I haven't wanted to have this realization. I haven't wanted to come to this conclusion. But it is real and it is true. Motherhood is drenched in self-denial.

There are many things that I want to do that I don't, or can't, or decide against. 

For example, the other weekend Michael came in from a weekend away canoeing. We'd been apart- he with his buddies, I enjoying a stay at my parents' home- and all I wanted was to spend the evening cuddled on the couch listening to stories about his adventures. I wanted uninterrupted alone time with my husband after a weekend away. What we got instead was a chaotic meal of reheated leftovers, a very loud, splashy bathtime, an exhausted toddler howling that she was exhausted, and a newborn wailing that she was hungry {again}. By the time Maylin was in bed and Hartlie had been nursed {again}, Michael and I were both flat on our backs on seperate couches barely able to keep our eyes open, let alone form coherent sentences used in the types of conversations that make up quality time. 

Last night, I wanted to soak in a warm, sudsy bath complete with fragrant bath salts, a good book, and that expensive goat's milk soap under my bathroom cabinet. But again, supper time, nurse time, bath time, story time, bed time, nurse time, pump time all kind of took priority. So I settled for a hasty shower in which I didn't shampoo my hair and bathed with Johnson and Johnson baby wash. 

I want to spend a good hour every morning at the gym chipping away at this baby weight. I want to get dressed before 10:00 AM in something other than a milk-stained t shirt. I want the time to vacuum the living room rug and fold a load of laundry before it wrinkles beyond the power of the dryer's "fluff" cycle. I want to sleep past 6:00 on the weekend, snuggled deep under the covers with my husband, never mind the uninterrupted night of sleep from the night before. I want a good, stout margarita. {With the expensive tequila, please and thank you.}

But, alas, none of those things are happening at this phase in my life. 

I'm not saying that I'll deny myself these things forever. It's just during this phase of my life, and my children's lives, there are certain things that take priority over what I want to do. When I became a parent it's like my wants and needs traded places with the wants and needs of another person. Instead of putting myself first, I automatically put my babies first. For the first time in my life I think of others more often than myself, even if sometimes it's with gritted teeth and a pounding head. {After typing those sentences I realized this probably should have started with marriage instead of with kids. Sorry, Michael! I do think this seflessness is carrying over into my relationship with my husband, and hopefully will continue to spread outward.}

Adapting to mom life is hard. I hadn't fully accepted my role as a mother before we discovered we were expecting Hartlie, so at times I feel as if I've been hit with a double-whammy. And putting aside what I want to do in leui of caring for my babies and making sure their needs are met has been one of the most difficult changes to come to terms with. Maybe it's not that hard for everybody, but for me it's been a struggle.

One thing I do know. I want to mother my girls and I want to do it well. I want to be present in their lives. I want them to feel emotional stability and security. I never want them to wonder if mom is listening, or if she cares, or if they're second place {with the exception of their father} to whatever it is I'm doing. For the short term, it may be inconvenient to "sacrifice" my long baths, uninterrupted reading {or blogging!} time, and a favorite adult beverage or two. But in the long term, I will look back upon these early years when my babies are still babies, and rather than seething over not getting to polish my nails while listening to Grant Terry, I'll fondly cherish the memory of Winnie-the-Pooh replaying {over and over and over} while tickling my toddler with one hand and cuddling a nursing babe with the other.

Motherhood is drenched in self-denial, yes. But it's also dripping with an indescribable sweetness.

Please don't misunderstand this post as a rant about not loving my children or not loving being a mom. You can read posts here, here, here, and here that prove otherwise. I'm merely documenting honest feelings. 

Also, it took me three days of single-handed finger pecking to type this post, in which I wrote during a toddler's dwindling naptime and a newborn's lengthening nursing session. Self-denial in it's purest form right here. 

1 comment:

  1. First, that top picture of Maylin and that last picture of Hartlie are probably my favorites of each of them. They both need to be framed!!

    Next -- I laughed so hard when you were talking about getting dressed before 10 a.m., sleeping late, a full hour at the gym...gah! Before Alice, I had all these grand plans of how I was going to keep everything organized, clean, and, ahem, sane, even after she came. And those plans went right out the window!!

    So, to make you feel better, I spent my lunch break running outside because that's basically the only time I can run, so I'll smell awful for my (thankfully only one today) coworkers the rest of the day. I have no idea what it's like to shop by myself anymore because that never happens. And every day I look through the closet and basically wear the same &^#(@# five shirts over and over because nothing else fits properly.

    But -- like you said, there are such sweet moments. I'll give it all up to cuddle with her, to see her give me her cheesy smile, and to watch her excited expression. They're such sweethearts, even when I want to tear my hair out, lol!!! It's such a beautiful expression of God's love for us -- even when I feel like bedtime can't come soon enough, the moment I put her down, I can't wait to see Alice in the morning. =)

    So so happy I get to share this road of motherhood with you!!