Ah, the "joys" of motherhood. Doesn't that phrase immediately conjure up an image in your mind of a beautiful, new mom, gazing at the newborn baby in her arms, or perhaps a parent magazine cover of a beautiful, wrinkle-free, skinny woman smiling and hugging her two, equally beautiful, perfectly dressed children?
I often wonder why women who were already moms didn't bother to tell me, when I was pregnant with my first daughter, the "other" side of motherhood. For example, I could have really used some upfront information about things like what to do when your 1 year old completely blows out her diaper at the grocery store and you only have one wet wipe left, or what you do when your 2 year old says she put a popcorn kernel in her but you don't see it and every time you ask her "are you sure you put it in your ear" she changes her answer, or what do you do when your 3 year old thinks it's hilarious to lock you out of the house every time you go outside. Nope, I got the "joy" of finding all that out on my very own.
Don't get me wrong, motherhood does have moments of "joy" but, for me, those moments are few and far between. I've realized, since becoming a mom over 11 years ago, that I have to find the "joy" moments in the little things, or even if the moment only lasts a few minutes, because kids have a way of squashing that "joy" real quick.
Case in point, before I became a mother, I'd envisioned I'd be the kind of mom who looked forward and relished the kids bath time and bedtime.. I pictured myself giving my kids bubble baths and singing to them as I washed their hair or laughing as they splashed repeatedly. Then, as I snuggled them up in a clean, fluffy towel, I would hug them tight and tell them it's time for beddy-bed.
I imagined every night at bed time would be tender and loving. I would sit in their beds with them and read them a bedtime story while they snuggled up close to me. Then once the story was over, I imagined tucking them in tight, saying a prayer, and lightly kissing their sweet foreheads. We would say we loved each other and then I would leave their dim lit room feeling so blessed to have them and so at peace with my life.
Those, in my mind, are "joy" moments. Although, those moments have occurred at various times over the years, they have not happened as often or exactly like I pictured.
Some nights I think, this is it! We're having a "joy" moment, just like I always imagined. Even after the crazy evening of homework, taxi service, and making dinner, I have somehow invoked enough energy to sing during bath time or be silly and make them laugh, even though it's almost 9 p.m. on a school night. I still have enough affection left in me to snuggle them in a fresh towel and still smile when I'm forcing their still somewhat damp arms and legs into small pajamas. I've even summoned enough excitement and desire to go to the bookshelf and pick out the perfect bedtime story. I yell up the stairs for them to get cozy and turn on the reading light because it's story time. They all huddle together under the covers of their little sister's bed anticipating the perfect story I'm going to read to them.
Then.....it happens. As I reach the top stair holding my perfect storybook, I can hear the rumble of conflict brewing among my three girls. "I want to sit in the middle. Well, I want to sit by mom! You always sit by mom! Get off my blankie! Quit laying on me! Stop squishing me!! Move, or I'm telling!! MOM!!!"
There it is. "Joy" moment squashed.