If you had told me when I was young that I was to mother 5 children, I would’ve laughed in your face. And if you’d told me that 4 of them (the surviving 4) would all be boys, I’d have probably peed in my pants.
I had my five point plan to life/family/motherhood all worked out:
Step one: Find a man who actually loves me
Step two: Date for 3-4 years, then get married
Step three: Build fabulous career
Step four: Have two children, 2 years apart, one girl, one boy (in no particular order)
Step five: live fabulously carefree life perfectly balancing my successful corporate career, my children, my husband, and of course all my fantastic friendships.
Okay, so step one and two I was doing surprisingly well. I say surprisingly, because step one completely caught me off-guard in the most fantastic of manners. Step two was nearly put off track by the person in step one… perhaps I forgot to send him the memo, but in another surprising move, as luck would have it, it was achieved just on time. Step four is where things got complicated. And well, five children later (2 boys, 1 girl, another 2 boys), leaving my corporate career to pursue my love of photography, on the back-end of pursuing my love of being a mum, I’ve learnt a few things about me. Me the mother. Me the person. These are some of them:
1. Curveballs come. Be prepared to change your position.
That sounds so negative, right? Only, it’s not really. Sure, I buried my daughter… which was one half of step four of my plan gone. And you know what, sometimes it hurts. Heck, it hurts alot most of the time, actually. But I’ve learnt the real meaning of rolling with the punches, and the absolute delirious delight it can add to your perfect-imperfect plan. Because, well, to be frank, if my step four has gone according to plan, there would have been 3 less amazing boys in this world. My curve-balls produced the sweetest children, who have given me far more than the irritation of an un-ticked to-do list.
2. I’m not perfect.
Okay, I never really thought I was to begin with. But imperfections become blatantly obvious when you have to apologize to your children for your humanness. I make blunders with my children far more often than I’d like to admit. Yelling at them when they run in the house with their filthy shoes on the just-cleaned-shiny-white-tiles (I know, pathetic, right?!); rolling my eyes at their tears, because I don’t have the energy to deal with the dramatics, crying at them for silence when I am trying desperately to put a screaming baby to sleep. The list is long, I’m ashamed to say. But because I am human, because I make mistakes, I sit my boys down after my raging has dissipated, and beg their forgiveness. They need to know that it’s okay to make mistakes, provided your recognize them, and have the humility to admit when you’re wrong.
3. I’m a good mother
Mostly I’m an awful mother. My patience is short, I feel like I am constantly being pulled in a hundred directions at once, I feel like a constant stuck record with simple instructions that they just.don’t.get. I’m tired, and feel like I always have someone dangling off an appendage. Gosh, what I would do to eat a hot meal without getting up 20 times from the table, have a bath on my own (bath-time is a serious family affair in our house), or any innumerable other things I’d love to do/have/say/be, but can’t. But I love my children fiercely, and they know I have their backs. I nurture them, give them tons of affection. With my wonderful husbands help, I am hoping to teach them to be great, courageous men. Leaders who will impact the world around them. To be husbands who will love their wives both fiercely and gently; who will love their children the same. To have pure hearts, bodies and minds. I want to teach them the value of family; to be great, but to do it humbly without the need for glory. And so, I am giving myself grace. Grace when I get it wrong, to hold the boys tight, to take a deep breath and start again. And at the end of it all, I’m their perfect mother, because I’m THEIRS, and I need to trust that that makes me a good one.
4. I am capable
We have been through so much as a family. Burying my daughter was hugely difficult; but we got through it. It brought us closer. I know we’re lucky in that respect. But, by the grace of God, it made us stronger as a family. And my kids had to endure that loss too. Through it all, I had to learn to be strong for my children, but for them to also see that grief is real, and okay. It’s a balancing act that no-one teaches you; but we blundered upon it, and I realised that not only could I cope with the tragedy of Mikayla’s story, but we were also able to teach our boys so much about life, about love, about family through that time. And still do. If you had told me that this is something I would not only endure, but actually grow from, I would’ve never have believed you. And it was through MY CHILDREN that I learnt my capabilites.
5. My marriage is important
You’re thinking I’m pretty daft if I didn’t already know that. But the older I get, and the older my boys get, the more I realise how important my marriage is. Yes, it’s important for us as a couple, and for me as a person… but that isn’t the importance I am referring to. Ultimately, my children will gage the validity of marriage and family through watching us as a couple. Their affection for their wives, will come out of watching the kind of affection given to their mother from their father, but also the affection they receive from their parents. They will learn what words and tone to use with their wives, how to express their love… and I can be the person to show them all that, but it starts with my love relationship with my husband.
6. To be thankful
Every day brings with it new challenges. Gosh, in a house with 6 people… five of them of the male kind, just getting out the door can be (and often is) a challenge. In fact, to ensure smooth running of things, it’s important to plan well in advance for, well, everything. But every day also brings something to be grateful for. The other night we were having our bath time routine. My husband was away. So the 9 year old was in the bath holding the 11 week old, with the toddler leaping around him in the bath. I was in shower one, and the 10 year old was in shower two (it’s the thing that sold us on our house when we bought it… a huge bathroom with a bath and double shower. It is a well.used.bathroom… anyway, I digress). It was chaos, as usual. Me rushing to get out so that I can breastfeed the baby, and try get him calm and ready for bed before the toddler gets out the bath and causes havoc… the shower/bath routine for me, personally, out of the 6, is a working affair. A fast and furious one. But amongst all the chaos, the boys were relaying jokes to me, that recently they have learnt. Real boy jokes (I’m the only girl, I often don’t get the humour!), but while I was leaping around trying to finish up, I stopped for a moment, and just marveled at the wonderfulness of it all.
Being a mother hasn’t come easy for me. It is a job that comes with very little, if any, recognition. I left a corporate career, where I daresay I could’ve climbed that ladder very successfully, with regular pats on the back (and a lovely bank balance with it). Being a mother is mostly thankless. I said to my husband that the only words coming out of anyone’s mouths at me, are mostly complaints of some form or another. It’s a constant slog, that continues from the moment I open my eyes, until I close them (and even in between). But I am learning that it really is the best job in the world. My oldest is growing up… and it’s gone so quickly. I look at my littlest, and I know that this time is over too quickly. They have given me so very much… but one day they will leave the proverbial nest, and if I haven’t taken the time to revel in the wonder and goodness of being a mother; and haven’t stopped to actually enjoy it every now and then.. well, what will be left? The reward is watching them grow into something GREAT, and knowing that I helped them achieve that in my small way… and that makes me great too.
If all I ever produce is great men. Then my job is done. And all that hard work was worth it. Even if I never got a “thank you”.