I know motherhood is a blessing. It’s a blessing I prayed for and waited for, even after receiving the news from doctors that we might never conceive. I have been amazingly and utterly blessed by the gift of our son, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be his momma.
But this morning when I crawled out of bed to nurse the baby again after only an hour of sleep since the last time he cried out for me, I’m feeling more tired than thankful. I’m feeling more overwhelmed than blessed.
And that’s okay, because you know what? It’s not an all or nothing gig. It’s a lie to think we have to enjoy every single moment of motherhood. Are we supposed to enjoy cleaning bodily fluids, or worse-bodily solids, off of our floors? Are we supposed to enjoy waiting for hours in a crowded doctor’s office with a cranky toddler, or savor the sounds of crying babies that rouse us from our beds every 30 minutes at night? We can do these things gracefully and purposefully and, of course, with love, but it’s unfair for society to tell us to enjoy these details the same way we enjoy tickling soft baby feet or snuggling a sleeping baby on our chests.
I can both enjoy motherhood while wishing some things felt a little easier. I can cherish the breastfeeding relationship I have with my baby boy while wishing he would sleep. I can love my son completely and wholly while still missing the time alone with my husband and longing for a night away to reconnect.
I’m aware that my tiny newborn somehow turned into an almost toddler right before my eyes. I don’t need well-meaning strangers in the grocery store telling me to “soak up this precious time” when he’s melting down in the checkout line because I ran out of cheerios and won’t let him eat the cardboard from the macaroni box. I don’t need the guilt and added pressure of feeling like I’m not treasuring this time enough when it’s 4am and all I want to do is lay the fussy baby back in his crib without his middle-of-the-night snack and walk out of the room and crawl back into my bed.
Motherhood is hard enough without the stab of guilt that follows my feelings in those moments. I know these thoughts are just feelings. They are simply superficial reactions to my circumstances. They are not a reflection of my heart.
And I want you to know, momma, that it’s okay to feel the things you’re feeling, too.
It’s okay to not enjoy feeling so tired you want to cry. It’s okay to not enjoy snot-smeared clothing and milk-stained sofa cushions. It doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy our babies. It doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the wonderful blessing of motherhood. It just means we’re human. In the deepest part of your heart, I know you care endlessly for your family, for better or for worse. I know occasional superficial complaints don’t represent a lack of love. I know. I’ve been there. I am there.
We’re in this together. In the trenches right now, raising helpless infants into well-functioning adults who we pray will one day be doing the same things we’re doing. We’re fighting the good fight, one sleepless night at a time, and we wouldn’t have it any other way…except with sleep…if we could have all the wonderfulness and loveliness that comes from raising babies without the exhaustion and excess bodily fluids, we’d probably all take that deal.
But life doesn’t work that way, and ever since Eve was cursed in the garden with painful childbirth, we’ve known hardship was part of the deal, and we take it anyway. Gladly. We welcome the struggles with open arms because it means we are blessed with far more than we give. In fact, we’d sacrifice most anything for the well-being of our babies. And we do. And it’s okay that sometimes…we don’t enjoy those hardships and frustrations.
I’ve spent the last few weeks with blubbery, teary eyes because my sweet baby’s first birthday has come and gone. But I’ve also spent the last hour in the not-so-graceful frustration that comes with a kid who is fussy from shots and teething and being carried away screaming from the toilet he just tried to climb into while I attempted to quickly wash my hands.
The only thing I am soaking up in this moment is, literally, the pee my diaperless-for-one-minute son just deposited all over my clean-for-once outfit.
And that’s okay.
I love my son, and I can mother more gracefully when I admit that I don’t have to love every minute of motherhood. Join me, won’t you?