The first time one of my children vomited on me in the middle of the night I remember thinking, “Wait! That’s part of motherhood? I didn’t sign up for this!” I must have been insane with the ideas of a perfect mothering experience…no vomit, perfect sleep, no tantrums. This middle of the night introduction into the woes of motherhood was a rude awakening. There have been many times since then that I have thought of that moment. It was almost like an “on-off” switch; one that escorted me from one realm and on into another.
Since that fateful night as a young mother, I have had similar experiences with motherhood. Along with the highest highs and joys of being involved and so in love with the souls that have come to me and my husband, come the lowest of the lows. The sorrow that accompanies so many of the childhood and adolescent experiences when things don’t work out the way someone anticipated…the physical frailties and injuries that come with normal physical wear and tear (I’m thinking the derma-bonded scalp of a two-year old…the broken arms of a 6 year old…what have you)…the hurt when friends come and go and disappoint. All of these things and so many more are part of the emotional toll that raising children takes on a mother’s heart. On MY heart.
Perhaps the most trying times are the times when you long to protect your child from the brutality of the world, but can’t. Life was not designed to be lived in cocoon fashion. When the unkind wills and words of others are imposed upon someone without thought of damage, the instinct to protect kicks in. The labeling and the berating of her child–to their face and behind their backs–are enough to drive even the most well grounded mother to her knees. I know that life goes on and that we all lived through it but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier. I can still hear damaging words said to MYSELF at that tender age. Though I think I grew up to be pretty awesome, no matter how hard I try to ignore them, those voices pop back up at the most inconvenient of times. I had hoped to save my kids from that kind of baggage. Ignorance is bliss, so they say, yet the bliss bubble is going to pop. I can feel it.
And so, I cry for the ones who are being mocked and berated behind their backs by someone else’s child. I pray that the pain can be dull enough that the words won’t have power to injure the tender feelings of someone still trying to figure out where they fit in this big world. I wait, patiently, for the slamming of the front door and the tears that will surely come as the sting of unkindness and the loss of a degree of innocence pokes a hole in our somewhat peaceful existence. I cry for them. I cry for me. Surely this can’t be a part of motherhood. But it is. I didn’t sign up for this.
I will wait patiently for hope and patience and love and forgiveness to enter. I MUST be the voice of reason, the voice that tells my child that no matter what unkind thing anyone says, he is worth so much more. I will be the safe place, the warm place, the impossibly unconditional loving place that will give shelter and the promise of better times.
For now I will take solace in the words of Dieter F Uchtdorf:
“The pure love of Christ can remove the scales of resentment and wrath from our eyes, allowing us to see others the way our Heavenly Father sees us: as flawed and imperfect mortals who have potential and worth far beyond our capacity to imagine. Because God loves us so much, we too must love and forgive each other…
Brothers and sisters, there is enough heartache and sorrow in this life without our adding to it through our own stubbornness, bitterness, and resentment.
We are not perfect.
The people around us are not perfect. People do things that annoy, disappoint, and anger. In this mortal life it will always be that way.
Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things. That is the Lord’s way.
Remember, heaven is filled with those who have this in common: They are forgiven. And they forgive.
Lay your burden at the Savior’s feet. Let go of judgment. Allow Christ’s Atonement to change and heal your heart. Love one another. Forgive one another.
The merciful will obtain mercy.”
Certainly, we ALL need that mercy. Even mothers.