The challenges of motherhood are as varied as they are numbered. Many evenings and weekends, I am faced with the fact that each of my children want a spot on my lap at the same time. But really that's just a microcosm of the challenge to mother several children.
School started a week and a half ago. My job didn't hold back so I'd have energy for all of it. Extra-curricular activities for the kids didn't say, "Oh wait...you need to love on your babies? Allow us to wait."
There's a special joy that comes from children wanting you.
I have been mothering my children for 11-plus years and it does not cease to amaze me how much I long to know that my children long for me. I want them to want me. I want to be who they run to with their boo-boo's on their knees, to kiss away their hurts and hold them through their tears. I want to be the one they want to share their joy with, brag about an accomplishment to, and celebrate success with. I want them to miss me when I am away from them and I desire their closeness when we are together.
Every time that I arrive home, I get a hero's welcome. And I get it no matter where I have been or how long I have been gone. They are thrilled to see me come home. Their joy at my arrival at the end of a long workday eases the pain of separation I feel at being a work-outside-the-home-mom. I think that is a gift God gives to us moms (and dads!) who work outside the home -- that our children show how much they miss us and how important we are even though we aren't with them every minute of the day.
Sometimes it is a challenge to be so wanted, though. I find myself trying to strike a balance between encouraging their independence and desiring their dependence. I know it is my job to raise them to be self-sufficient and contributing members to society but I find myself watching the time fly and the world they will enter is scary and not safe or kind, and I worry that I won't be able to be there when they need me--to kiss their boo-boo's or hold them while they shed their tears.
The little ones -- they need the cuddles, they need the hugs and the smiles and the physical contact. They need my presence and they need my reassurance that even while I'm at work I always have them and their needs on my mind.
The older ones need the physical stuff, too. They need a smile of encouragement and they need a hug to let them know Mom loves them and missed them during the day/week. There is so much that can be said with a kiss for a child. I feel it when I give and receive kisses from my own parents.
I have had to learn and grow when it comes to physical affection. Growing up as a child in a divorced home where much of the physical affection ended when the divorce happened...I have had to get over myself a little bit and realize that even if I am out of my comfort zone when it comes to hugs and kisses...my children need them and I need to give these forms of affection to them.
Sarah needs even more than physical reminders of my love for her right now. We talk. A lot. I'm happy to do it and I'm really happy she's talking to me. We read books together and watch movies together. I even listened to (and enjoyed!!) a playlist she put together on her iPod recently.
I'm not going to lie...when I first found out I was pregnant with a girl when pregnant with Sarah, listening to a playlist my pre-teen daughter put together was something I figured I would have to be forced to do and would not enjoy. So, I'm pleasantly surprised that I am able to relate to her, at least right now. :)
And, I am a little surprised at how much I need her approval. Don't get me wrong...I know, I'm the parent and I need to parent my children and not be their best friends. But I still want my children to love me. I still want them to want me. That hasn't changed from when Sarah was one of my "littles" and I would imagine it won't change any time soon. But Sarah's needs have matured as well. She needs someone who listens at least as much as (and probably more than) she talks. She needs to share her opinions and her fears and her questions...and obtain only a gentle guiding hand as she comes up with her answers. I've reached a point now where I ask more questions, sit quietly and wait for her to come up with her answers and encourage her to share with me this person she is -- who she is growing up to be. I am learning about her, much as she is learning about me.
So, I guess the point of this rambling post is about how I have been a mother for 11-plus years and I still don't have all the answers. I'm heading into the "great unknown" of teenage daughters. I'm cautiously optimistic that there's a foundation built that will hold steady while the currents swirl.
I've heard it said (and I say it now myself) that we Catholic mamas do the best that we can to raise our children to know, love and serve the Lord. We do our best to develop their skills, their ethics and values. And then...the time comes when all we can do is pray like the dickens.
So, I am going to keep on doing my best while I have these children under my roof.
And then I am going to pray like the dickens. :)