Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why I'm NOT the Perfect Mother

Motherhood - the greatest job in the world, and sometimes the most difficult job in the world. There are so many emotions, ideas, opinions & stigmas that go along with this very important role. I have learned a lot about myself along the way - and just thought I'd pass those lessons on.

I was the first born in my family which immediately gave me a leadership role full of responsibility and obligation. First-borns tend to fall into two different categories personality-wise: *compliant, nurturing and caregiving OR aggressive movers & shakers. I was the latter. I did my duty with babysitting my siblings, but only because I had to, it was not my natural instinct to want to mother or nurture. All through high school I preferred restaurant jobs and administrative jobs over babysitting for other people. When I was young I imagined that one day, in my late twenties or early thirties I might have children. But that was a long way off in my future, and definitely not one of my short term goals in life.

And the age of 20 I found myself in an unplanned pregnancy with my first son, Nicholas. I did not feel ready for motherhood and my life was a mess at the time. My first instinct was to go the adoption route as I had no tools to be a good mother, and I did not want an innocent child to have to enter into the crazy world called my life. However, over time and with the help of loved ones and family, I realized I was ready for this adventure called motherhood. And I'm so glad I said yes to that adventure! I will never forget the waves of love that rolled over my heart and left me speechless and in awe the first time I looked at my son and held him in my arms. I realized that even though the high-nurturing instincts were not apparent in my life up to that point, they were still there in my heart, waiting for the day when they would be needed.

When that new bliss wore off and the reality of motherhood set in, I realized there were other obstacles I was going to have to face on this journey. Like, the fact that I have a high need for change and can't stand the daily grind of mundane routine. Also, the fact that one of my primary needs in life is to have a significant impact on my world around me (see my blog about the 4 main motivations in life - And then there was the day when I took the test to find out which love language I am, and I found out "touch" was not even in the top 3! Kids need a LOT of touch. How was I going to bridge that gap? How was I going to change the world when I was stuck at home all day long changing diapers? How was I going to do the same routine every day without losing my mind?

It wasn't until recently that I realized for the past 10 years I've been (for the most part) operating outside my strengths. All the things I'm bad at, thats what I've been doing for the last decade. No wonder I had doubts! No wonder I felt insufficient. I imagine someone who is high nurturing by nature, has touch as their top love language, and is motivated mainly by connection would feel the same way if all they wanted to do was be at home raising their kids, yet had to work full time outside the home to make ends meet. The grass is always greener right? So even though this motherhood thing has been difficult for me, and not as "natural" as it is for other women, I've also realized that I would have been incomplete without the experience. My kids have taught me so much about life. And I hope I've been able to teach them that we all have strengths and weaknesses, but we shouldn't let the weaknesses hold us back from embracing all life has to offer.

When I'm stuck in the trench of doing all the things I'm not good at, I think about what makes it all worth it. Like the fact that I have four healthy, smart, amazing young men in my life that continue to impress me every year they are alive. I think about the snuggles, the giggles, the funny sayings, the accomplishments, their personalities, the vacations, the holidays, their futures and the possibilities of all the things that are still to come. Now that I understand myself better, I don't even wish for this part of my life to hurry up and get over with. It will go fast enough, I know. I embrace it fully. The other side will be a new adventure. It isn't going anywhere, it will wait for me. For now, bring on the hugs & kisses, the daily grind, the messes, the homework, and even the part about being hidden away changing diapers instead of changing the world. I'm not trapped, I'm blessed!

*You can read more about this in the book "The Birth Order Book" by Dr. Leman


  1. I am definitely more of the first type of oldest child, aren't I!

    Yes, your life certainly took a different direction with the arrival of Nicholas - and God has brought such beautiful things out of all of it! Everyone does motherhood a little differently, but there's definitely a lot of room for "right".

    Are you really moving to KC?


  2. Yes I would say so! So is Jon. I think that's why it works for us to be married and both be 1st borns. And I agree. There are lots of "rights" when it comes to mothering. The only wrongs would be abuse and neglect.

    And yes, we are really moving. Hopefully first week of November. It's exciting but scary all at the same time. I hate starting over somewhere new but I love change. So, we'll see how it goes!

  3. Ok - my friend posted this on facebook . . . and as I read it to my husband, he asked "Hon - did you ghost write this for her?" I thought I was reading a post I might have written. :) Yes - I was the oldest of 4 - and remember distinctly telling my mom at 18 years old "I don't think I'll be a good mom. I don't like kids. They creep me out." (my brother and sisters were ok - but forget about anyone else's kids!). Her sweet reply "You'll love your own". She was right. I now have 5! When we were adopting our youngest, one fellow baseball mom looked at me crazy and said "wow - you have 4 kids and you are adopting another. You must really love kids." My immediate response - "no. I only like my own!" :) Which, at the time, was mostly true. However, God truly touched my heart and broke it for kids and orphans during our adoption process. I can now love all kids through His love for them! It makes it so much easier (to not only love kids - but even adults!) when you know and feel God's heart for them - when you see them as God sees them . . . as His beautiful creations that He adores and loves and has awesome plans for! :)
    So Nicole - keep dreaming about changing the world (I'm right there with you . . . still "stuck" at home doing it)! You world-changing days are not just in the future - but in the right now! You are changing the lives of 4 very special, awesome, talented young men who will grow up and change the world they live in as well! They will learn from the best! :)

    God bless you guys!
    Lori :)

  4. I just love the bloggy world! I read your post from the fb friend as well and I know Lori above (and yes she is a great mom!) and I hundreds of miles away from both of them! I chuckle that your post described me-on the opposite end. I am the working mom with touch as #1 love language and yes, it is struggle. However, I can wholeheartedly agree with you that I have been doing things way out of my comfort zone. The Lord has truly been stretching me in these areas to grow me more, to show me what He can do and what I am actually capable of doing! GOD is so good always. I am a blessed mama of 4 boys as well 10, 8, 6 and 1. God bless-looking forward to reading more!

  5. Thanks to both of you. It's good to know I'm not alone. And I have had the same thoughts about adoption. I have wanted to look into it at times but felt afraid that the bond would be difficult for me. We shall see what the future holds!

  6. Bridget recommend I check out your blog & so here I am. I can relate with your motherhood feelings as We have similar stories, although I'm only up to 2 kids thus far ...they keep me busy not sure how you handle 4! It's amazing how motherhood changes you & allows you to tackle things you never thought possible! Thanks for the great post Nicole :)

  7. Thanks Erica! Some days I don't know how I handle 4 either! But as they get older it does get easier. Right now is a particularly hard stage for me as we just moved and I'm here alone with Tristan all day (my 1 year old, very ACTIVE 1 year old). He's at that age where he is mobile enough to get into everything but not smart enough to know what will hurt him. Taking it day by day!