Motherhood: the hardest thing

Motherhood begins with nine months of physical discomfort. The birth of every baby is an adventure: unpredictable, painful, joyful, life-changing. Newborns require hours of holding, feeding, rocking. Through the first bleary days of waking and sleeping until mother and baby emerge bonded into two beings whose hearts beat as one. Out of the exponential burst of physical growth blossoms a unique personality. Bright innocence shines from a child’s face, giving a Mother a glimpse of heaven.

newborn baby

Motherhood requires a certain level of proficiency at housework. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, planning, and budgeting grow out of the need to care for the children we love. Mothers pick up bits of information in subjects they never knew existed, becoming an encyclopedia of practical knowledge.

Photographing 3 youngsters: an example of no matter how hard we try, it never turns out perfect.

Motherhood piles up responsibility so high a woman bends with exhaustion. There is always more to do, more that can be done. She wants the best for her children. So she tries to balance the work with episodes of play: going to the park, reading a story, giving undivided attention. The work piles higher. Things break, children get sick, time runs out. She feels tense, anxious, hormonal. The children argue, throw tantrums, ignore her quiet responses, yell, tease, pout. Her patience runs out. Every day her patience is stretched further and further. Sometimes it breaks. At the end of the day, falling into bed, a Mother feels the quiet assurance that her work is the most important work she could have done.

A mother sees the infinite potential in her child and nurtures it. She teaches, tutors, trains. She sees a talent and works to give the child the chance to develop it. Karate, building kits, music. Mother wishes she could be the perfect mentor. As the child grows, there are missed opportunities, negative peer pressure, laziness. A child becomes a youth exerting independence. Mothers have to navigate child psychology, honest disagreement, autonomy and responsibility. They teach the lessons, learn the lessons, and live the lessons they try to instill.

Motherhood is a road to becoming. A mother develops maturity, capacity for work, patience. So do her children. I have done hard things. Motherhood is the hardest thing, but also the best thing I have ever done.

a busy mother

Life’s challenges never let up. A woman willingly takes on more when she becomes a mother. But somehow amid the tears, there are smiles. Somehow between the trials there is growth. Looking back through the struggle there are golden memories. The human connection between mother and child is one of the strongest bonds on earth. The generations of life would not continue without mothers.

God is our Father. In this whole messy experiment of humanness, He planned for our growth. He saw our potential and He designed our lives to intersect as Mothers and children, wives and parents, daughters and aunts. God, the perfect Parent, wanted us to become more like Him and so he created Mothers.

Happy Mother’s day to the special women in my life. My life wouldn’t exist without you.


Motherhood: watching children suffer

After nine months of anticipation, patience, impatience, and discomfort, I delivered my baby boy. He was big, a lusty nine pounds five ounces, and absolutely perfect. Then my husband pointed out a patch of skin on his temple that looked slightly different. It didn’t make much difference to me; he was still my perfect baby.

newborn baby boy
my newborn baby

Because of that patch of skin, we went to see a dermatologist, then a pediatric craniofacial plastic surgeon. Last week, I took my baby to the hospital for surgery so it could be removed. No one in my family has required surgery for anything before, let alone a baby. I felt anxious about the risks, even though it was a minor procedure.

I prayed. I prayed that everything would go well. I prayed for the surgeon. I prayed that my baby wouldn’t have any adverse reactions to anesthesia. I prayed for his happy little self to continue on in life without any hindrance. Babies are so precious, partially because they are so innocent. They obviously have done nothing to deserve the unfairness of life, yet they take everything in stride with even more patience than adults. They are also precious because of their potential; their life is a wide open opportunity to achieve something. It is heartbreaking to see that potential lost when a child dies.

Fortunately, my prayers were answered in the way I asked. I cannot even begin to imagine the stress and anxiety of Moms whose babies have chronic conditions that regularly take them to the hospital. My little experience was so minor in comparison. Baby had his surgery and I got to hold him in my arms as he woke up.

my baby recovering from surgery

I brought him home and he has returned to his happy little self. I wonder why we even had to have the experience. Why the extra stress, expense, time? I don’t know, except that I trust God who has engineered our experience in mortality to teach us lessons we could get in no other way. My baby will never remember this experience, but he’ll have a scar. I, on the other hand, will never forget it.

baby with a bandage from surgery
baby with a bandage after surgery

I love my children. But I know babies don’t stay perfect and innocent. Each precious baby will grow and make mistakes. Motherhood brings with it potential for heartache. I hope my children achieve their full potential as adults. Even if they don’t, I will love them. I would never go back to the person I was before I became a mother. This experience was just a taste of the heartache a mother feels. Life hurts sometimes.

This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress toward our goal of eternal life.

-Thomas S Monson

If heartache is what helps me become the person God wants me to be, then it is worth it.

10 tips for a happy marriage–How they apply in my life

My husband and I recently celebrated our twelfth anniversary. It seems like just the other day AND a long time ago that we tied the knot! I’m excited for this Valentine’s day, not because I’m looking forward to getting fancy gifts, but because I love being married and I know I’ll get to spend a little extra time with my hubby.

The wedding day… just the beginning of happily ever after. Image source

In 2012, the Ensign shared some tips of what happily married couples do. I know what they are talking about, because I’ve learned to do these things. I’d like to share their ideas in my own words. Because real-life true love can best be found in a vibrant happy marriage. So, here are 10 tips for a happy marriage.

Positive conversations. a happy marriage is full of happy conversations. “What are you doing today? What do you want to do? What tasks are on your to do list? How can I help you with the things you are working on?” These are the kinds of conversations we have all the time. One thing that has helped our conversations is planning out our week together every Sunday night. We look at the calendar together and write what’s happening on a wipe off one-week calendar in the kitchen. We’ll add to do lists that we need to get done. It really helps to mutually plan out our goals for the week. When we sit down for meals, we can see the calendar and talk about what is coming up that day.
Know details. A couple knows and cares about all of the details of each other’s lives. I know everything about my husband, from the names of his pets to the name of his best friend in high school.

“In marriage the big things are the little things.”

-Elder James E Faust

Image source

Show affection. Physical affection reinforces other forms of love in a marriage. For some, including many men, physical affection says “I love you” stronger than words. A healthy marriage includes holding hands, sitting next to each other, hugs, and kisses. I’m not as naturally affectionate as my husband, but I love it when we walk around the back yard together holding hands or sit on the couch together.
Be each others best friends. You know your spouse better than anyone else. You are able to understand them best. Know their desires and talents, challenges, weaknesses and strengths. I like to think about how my husband has to put up with me. Before I get annoyed that he didn’t do dishes when I asked for help, I remember all the times I haven’t done dishes or been available to help him. Often the things I get annoyed at are things I do. If I remember that, I don’t get annoyed as easily. He’s already putting up with me and not saying anything about it.
Have a gospel perspective. Be humble and charitable. We know we’ll never be perfect in this lifetime, so we have to accept that in ourselves and family members. When I have a weakness or problem, I don’t want someone to constantly remind me of it and pester me about changing. I hope for love and acceptance and help to change as I am able. As a woman, I tend to be the one to fall into the “nagging” trap. Really the time to be picky about a spouse’s traits are before you marry them. Once you make the commitment, you need to accept them for who they are and love them no matter what.
Keep dating. When you do things enjoyable together, you enjoy being together. Of course it’s important to continue nurturing our most valuable relationship. If my husband and I have lots of work to do, perhaps we will spend time together working on a project together, but it is still time spent together. Sometimes I have a hard time spending money on “fun”, which makes me a stick in the mud for dates. Yet it is a lot cheaper to keep my marriage healthy than to have to pay for counselling. Some things we do for dates include grocery shopping, eating at a restaurant, exercising together, hiking, working in the yard, and looking at the night sky.

I love riding bikes for a date! It combines exercise, the outdoors, and time spent together. Image source
Image source

Share intimacy. A healthy relationship includes intimacy. We believe this is a sacred and God-given means of enriching a marriage. Like all other aspects of marriage, there is balance to meet the needs of each spouse. Intimacy is a natural outcome of a happy marriage relationship.
Spend time with children. As a couple matures, children join the family and add to the demands on both spouses. Caring for children is a major joint goal, with contributions from each parent. When I have a new baby, I am often tired and less interested in intimacy, yet so grateful when my husband is willing to nurture me and our new child. He may give me a break by holding the baby, or have a conversation with me to give me attention. I love watching him bond with our newborn. When I see how wonderful and loving he is with our children, I love and respect him more and want to do things to show love in return. It motivates me to want to cook nicer meals, go on dates, and show him affection. So once I adjust to the routine with the new baby, I am often even better at doing my own work and making time for him.

Image source

Ask for feedback. When you are in a position to make improvements, your spouse is the person who knows you best and can help you accomplish your goals. I like to talk about what things I do and don’t like about how a situation went and hear his opinion. Likewise, a good spouse is sensitive when the other is having a hard time. Usually I am the one having a hard time and venting my frustration and my husband is patient and tries to help me out until I feel better. Thanks, honey.
Trust. A marriage relationship is the closest relationship possible between people. Your spouse knows everything about you. In order to feel safe and happy in your relationship you must be able to trust each other. You must trust that even when your spouse sees you at your worst, they won’t hold it against you. They will keep on loving you and helping you be your best self. Anger and contention are Satan’s favorite tools for dividing us. When allowed into a marriage, they can destroy the trust so essential to the relationship. Even small things like sarcasm and criticism can damage a relationship.

A mature couple: comfortable with each other and happy just being together. Image source

I love being married. As time goes by, it seems like our ability to accomplish things together grows. I hope to continue to nurture my marriage and enjoy the fulfillment that comes with a happy marriage.