Sometimes, it just isn't easy...
So many times we read in magazines, or online, those glowing articles about how wonderful Motherhood is; the tender sweet cuddly moments, or those amazing times when your child displays good character and you feel rewarded in parenting. Those moments are oh so sweet, but I just want to be honest for a moment and say - they can be the exception! Parenting is H-A-R-D work, with very little rest. Some days you feel like you've taken one step forward and two steps backward!
The other day I took my four children, (who are 6 and under), to a conservation department for a homeschool class. A friend of mine also came along with her older children. My oldest went into a class with them, and I took my three youngest into the 3-5 year old class. So here I had a 4 year old, almost 2 year old, and 2 month old in this class. When we walked in, all the parents were sitting in the back chatting with each other and calmly enjoying the moment while their children were sitting on little carpet squares listening to the teacher. There wasn't really a good place for me to sit and nurse, so I found a spot in the front with the children on the floor and tried as best I could to nurse discreetly. So far so good - but then came craft time. Let me put it simply - while I can sew I do NOT like crafts. Period. End of discussion. I never liked them as a child because my Mom didn't care for them either. I'm always grateful when my husband takes over and helps our children with craft projects at church. But back to this craft. Here we were supposed to make cute little turtles out of cardboard egg cartons. My 4 year old was supposed to cut out the turtle's body parts using glue and tissue paper (delicate little task), and, of course, he can not do this without some help. I bravely walked over to the table, determined to be a good Mama (craft-challenged as I was) and assist my son (with only one arm, of course. The other is holding my baby. And a blanket. And a coat.) We had no more than begun and suddenly my baby spits up on my son's head. Big time. This was one of those spit-ups where you wonder if anything made it into the baby's little tummy. It (the spit-up) managed to also make its way into my daughter's hair and proceeded from there onto the floor. The lady next to me (who is helping her one and only delightful little child) looked at me and said, "Oh, do you need some help? What can I do for you you sad excuse of a mother?" Ok, so the "sad excuse of a mother" wasn't in there, but I felt like it could have been. I wanted to melt...where was the disappear button? This woman was simply gorgeous, her hair was perfectly styled, makeup on, tiny and trim, and she had both hands free to help her daughter who was cheerfully making the best egg-carton turtle shell you ever saw. Instantly, unhappy thoughts came into my head, "What am I doing all this for? I'm so humiliated. Why do I always have to appear so helpless and dependent on others to help me with four little children? Maybe I'm not good enough for this Motherhood thing after all?"
As that battle was raging inwardly, outwardly I made every effort to calmly finish our class while trying to keep my daughter from constantly pulling her skirt up to her head! Certainly not appropriate for "The Modest Mom's" daughter : ) I had noticed as we walked out the door that the hem of her shirt had been ripped off somehow. No time to change now . . . I just hoped nobody would notice. I would throw it away at home.
We finally finished, and by the time we were in the car my blood sugar was quite low from the stress of the morning. My friend looked at me and asked, "So, do you want to do this every month?" and laughed. She encouraged me that it would get easier when they got older (something she knew from experience). True, but that didn't help the present moment!
No big revelation came to me to get me through the day. I somehow managed to go to the grocery store before coming home. When at home, we all ate lunch and everyone instantly laid down for naps. I heaved a big sigh and started sewing for the afternoon.
It's been two days since, though, and I have been blessed with some of those rare sweet moments that you read about in the magazines; times when you look at your children and your heart just wants to burst with love. I have come to a few conclusions since that day. . .the first is that my children's education will not suffer if we fail to make it every month to these classes (though I do appreciate them). I think back to our fore fathers and realize how much pressure is on mothers these days to take our children here and there simply to satisfy the current thinking that they *need* these activities to grow up as cultured, well balanced adults. What will help my children the most in becoming fine young men and women is having a stable, loving, secure home with the assurance that their parents love them and will always be there for them. If I can give that to my children, and impart the love of God to them, that is so much more important than these classes.
Will we try again? Probably. I learned what to bring next time that should help things go a little smoother (a tarp, perhaps?), but most importantly, I will need to remember to pray before I go in, take a deep breath and just enjoy every crazy moment of parenting!