Tonight was a rough bedtime for my 2-year-old. She was full of energy from a late afternoon nap and just couldn’t settle. After an hour of bouncing in bed, she was overtired but still unable to fall asleep. All she wanted was Mama. As I stroked her soft little cheek and whispered some variation of “PLEASE go to sleep,” I was struck by how much of a gift it is to be her mom.
I tend to be a bit of a cynic. Humor is my main way of coping with the chaos that is motherhood. I tell funny stories and find ways to laugh at myself so I can make it through the really tough and isolating days. I’m rarely sentimental and not one to wax poetic about a golden glow of motherhood. But, I am deeply grateful for my children, and (most days) really thankful for all the blessings that come along with motherhood. Humor and not taking yourself too seriously are invaluable tools in parenthood. But gratitude (and a good attitude) is important too. I’m learning (slowly) that gratitude grows as I practice it. Here are some of the unexpected blessings motherhood has given me.
A deep sense that I am not the center of the universe
My children have made it very clear, from day one, that I am no longer the center of my universe. (They think they are.) It’s oddly freeing to let go of the notion that we are in control and that what we want is most important. We all want to be part of something bigger — motherhood gives you that in abundance.
Very little embarrassment or shame
After enough days of being covered in someone else’s bodily fluids, not much embarrasses me. If you can survive the shame of your child licking the seat on the Green Line train, you’re good. After years of worrying about what people thought about me, it’s a beautiful gift to feel free(er) from this anxiety. (On the other hand, worrying about whether I’m eternally ruining my children? That hasn’t changed.)
The chance to be loved unconditionally
For all their narcissistic ways, children have a holy and pure way of being able to love, without condition. My husband loves me incredibly well, but I don’t think I’d ever known truly unconditional love until I had kids. I’ve heard this changes as they get older. But for now, nothing warms my cold, cynical heart like my toddler sleepily proclaiming, “Mommy, I wheely wuv you,” even after the roughest of days.
The chance to translate what I love to my children
A lifetime ago, I studied physics and thought that nuclear policy was going to be my bread and butter. TL;DR, I took a different life path, but I still geek out over subatomic particles. Now, my kids have board books about quarks and electrons, and they love to try to explain gravity to me. Getting to share the things that I love with them makes me love it all even more. And having to break it down into elementary school pieces forces me to understand even more deeply!
The chance to see my husband as an amazing dad
I really lucked out when it came to my husband. He is the yin to my yang, patient where I am fiery, easy-going where I am too driven. Eight years into marriage, I still consider myself a lucky bride. But getting to watch him be a dad is like watching an eagle take flight. He is a rockstar daddy who adores his children and is all-hands-on-deck in seeing them turn into kind, smart humans. Seeing him as a dad brings out a whole other level of sweetness in our marriage.
Lots and lots of laughter
When all else fails, we come back to my standby — laughter. Kids are just funny. And at the end of the day, I laugh way more as a mom than I ever did before having kids. (Sometimes that’s so I don’t cry.) But most of the time it’s because the greatest unexpected gift of motherhood is how much I really like my little people.