Mothering | Choose Joy

Oof, mothering is hard. Especially when you’re dropped into it with a 3 and 5-year-old. On the other hand, it’s opened up my eyes; I’ve seen myself in new ways. Both good and bad. I’ve seen that I’m capable of more selflessness than I’ve every suspected. And I love these boys, my nephews, more than I thought possible. I wrote in my journal one day:

“I see him playing by himself, his head bent in concentration, that vulnerable neck—covered in sweet, downy hair—exposed, his chubby little nearly-three-year-old fingers working to manipulate finer objects. And the tenderness is too much, like a wildfire and water, a storm, swirling through me.”

I’ve always had respect for mothers; I’ve always wanted to be one. This experience has changed nothing, just made both respect and desire more piquant and acute. When you are a mother, your life is not your own, so thank you all mothers out there. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Or, in the succinct words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: “You are doing better than you think you are,” (“Behold Thy Mother“).

I might’ve been absent the last week (and then the two months before that), but that’s only because I’ve been learning so much about life and love, children and family. It’s here (and my journal) where I go when I need to distill all of that knew knowledge into something resembling sense:

“I feel like my life has been usurped by cute little people who I love desperately and fear in equal measure. Motherhood is hard. And I’ve only been doing it since last Tuesday. Taking care of children really consumes your life; it’s a wonderful way of becoming selfless. I find myself thinking less about what I want and more about what we all need. It’s incredibly humbling. I think I’d be less overwhelmed if I’d been doing it full-time from babies on, but being dropped into motherhood is jarring, to say the least. So far the boys are fairly clean, healthy, and happy (or as happy as they can be while missing their parents). You know that feeling you get when you witness somebody in their vulnerability and you feel a love, empathy, and tenderness so powerful that you heart hurts a little? I can’t seem to express it any better than that, but I feel that when I think of the boys and their mother. Her love for them, her utter devotion and goodness, her selflessness and sacrifice, pierces my heart. I think of how she is with the boys, the joy and happiness in her eyes when she sees them after any length of time, and it hurts so much in a good way. My dear boys, the sweetness and vulnerability of one, the innocence and spiciness of the other…I love them so much it hurts. I wonder if Heavenly Father loves us so much it hurts, and how He can stand it, the acute, piquant pain of love.”

Life is weird and wonderful, all these new experiences making me new in turn, bringing me happiness and joy in a different sort of service than I’ve ever known before.

Choose Joy.

—A

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