Motherhood, I have found, is not unlike childhood. We start off not knowing much, really, about what lies ahead. We learn on the job, sometimes from parents, sometimes from experts, often from friends. We make mistakes. We misspeak. We learn the meaning of mercy and grace.
With my eldest entering the tween years, I’ve entered a new phase of motherhood (and yes, it takes a lot of mercy and grace, on both of our parts). In doing so, I’ve come to realize that motherhood, like childhood, is just that: a series of phases. Some we relish, others we endure, but each phase comes and then—poof—it goes. It vanishes and we are onto the next.
Before I even had children, I experienced a phase where I thought I knew a few things about motherhood. I certainly knew what I wouldn’t do. Ha!
Then came the infant phase, which knocked me right into “how will I ever survive this” land. I know that there are lots of you out there who ooohhh and aaahhhh over infants, and today I do, too. But when I was seriously sleep-deprived, a thousand miles from anyone I knew, and lonely, I wondered if I would ever see the light of day again.
But then he started to laugh. And crawl. And I loved that phase. I loved it when he made a mess, threw a tantrum, and sat on my lap for hours reading picture books. I loved it right up until he turned three.
The three-year old phase was a bit more challenging, but still fun. All in all, we were good, and I knew what I was doing, and then he turned eleven.
And that’s where I find myself now, lost again, struggling to figure out what’s up, what’s down. My sweet boy is still sweet, but suddenly prone to outbursts (you’re ruining my life!) and comparisons (every other person in my class has video games!) that have previously been absent. Hormones (his, not mine), independence, and the quest for self-identity—we are here, suddenly, dramatically, here.
Way back in the day when I was still thinking about having children, a friend of mine, Cindy (already a mother of three), was a great encourager. I couldn’t start having kids soon enough for her. One day, she gave me a re-print of an article written by Dale Hanson Bourke that speaks about motherhood as truthfully and eloquently as I’ve ever seen it. (Click here to read it.) It touches me as much to read it today as it did over a decade ago. And as we make our way though yet another phase, of motherhood and childhood, I have to concur: It’s changed my life and I’ll never regret it.