Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Apology

For many years, Mother's Day was a very difficult day for me. Each year became progressively more difficult. It was all I could do to get out of bed on Mother's Day and go to church. I didn't want to take the pity flower they handed out to all of the women in the ward who were mothers now and those who "will receive that blessing sometime in the future. Perhaps in the next life." I didn't want to see the sweet children up on the stand singing and waving to their mommies, knowing no one was waving to me. I didn't want to hear any talks about how hard it is to be a mom. I desperately wanted to be a mom and ached inside anytime anyone complained about their children. I thought they were being ungrateful for the blessings in their life. I thought I would give anything for children who misbehaved (although secretly I knew mine would not). The hardest year was the last year before I became pregnant with Andrew. We had been through another surgery that February and I still hadn't recovered. I had pretty much lost hope that we would ever become pregnant. I said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to help me make it through the day. I got ready for church and drove their sobbing with my heart broken (I was Primary president and didn't feel like I could miss church that day). I felt calm as I entered the building. I made it through the talks and the singing. After the closing prayer they passed out the flowers beautifully decorated with tissue paper and ribbon. They were little marigold plants. One of the young men handed mine to me and I opened up the tissue paper. My flower was dead! Black. It crumbled to pieces all over the pew. All of the emotions I had held back came pouring out and I fled to the safety of the primary room. It was a difficult day.

The reason I share this is not to evoke emotion or pity from anyone. I can laugh at the dead flower today. In fact I think it is a pretty funny story. And my own little guy went up to the stand today and waved to me and smiled. The reason I share the background is that I feel I owe all of my family and friends an apology. I wasn't fair in my judgment of you. I couldn't see past my own hurt. For the first time since having children, I have finally been humbled enough this week (it has been a really hard week) to admit that parenting is really hard for me personally. Not that I didn't feel like it was before. Being a mom is exhausting and difficult and trying. However, I felt like if I admitted this to myself or others, that I would somehow be showing ingratitude for the blessings that Andrew and Ryan are in my life. I thought if I said out loud that I was tired or that I felt inadequate or that I didn't know what the heck I was doing, I would be telling Heavenly Father that I had forgotten the years of heartache and didn't appreciate my two miracles. I thought you would laugh at me behind my back and say, finally Danielle has messed up. I have been trying to breeze through this Mommy gig on my own talents and merits and haven't been relying enough on the Lord or others very much. Not even my sweet and perfect husband.

I have learned this week through prayer and pondering, that saying being a parent is hard, doesn't mean that you are ungrateful for your children. In fact, to deny the difficulty of motherhood is to belittle the impact and significance of the sacrifices we make for our children. I love being a Mommy. I love the joy and the delight that I experience each day with Andrew and Ryan. The joy definitely outweighs the difficulty. But it is still hard. I have a testimony of the importance of the atonement to me personally as a mother. I am grateful that I can repent when I am inadequate and that I can try again. I am grateful that the Lord entrusted these two sweet spirits to our home, even though I am not a perfect mom. They have taught me so much, most recently humility. I am not perfect, and neither are my children. Together we will learn and grow and try and become the best family we can become with the help of our Heavenly Father.

You may laugh at me, and that is okay. But it has really been hard for me to come to the realization that motherhood is not easy. Motherhood is not all picnics and strawberry picking. It isn't all bedtime stories and hugs. Sometimes it is being hit in the face or having your couch peed on because your three year old is mad at you. Sometimes it is embarrassing tantrums in primary and tearing 10 of the keys off of Daddy's computer. Sometimes it is sleepless nights because of teething or the croup. I am not sure why it took me three and a half years to realize it. Now I am just bracing myself for the next 30 years. I will continue to focus on all of the fun moments I have with my boys together and recognize the miracles that they are. But I won't think less of you or myself if we have a hard day, week, year, or decade.


Cortney said...

((((Hugs)))) I think you are one of the most amazing moms I know! I look up to you.

Gina said...

Oh Danielle, I love you!

Wendy said...

What a profound entry. I'm always glad to hear that it's not easy for other parents, too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Danielle. I felt like I just had a great conversation with you!

Shelley said...

thanks for the heartfelt thoughts. i cried along with you as i read them. it's always hard to look back and realize that we judged wrongly. but we are bigger people if we can admit it. i've been struggling lately with some actions i thought a few of my friends had done, judging them for it and not understanding how they could be so thoughtless. then on sunday the tables were turned, and someone thought the same of me when it wasn't even true at all. anyway, without the details, i felt very humbled and needed to repent once i realized that i had misunderstood the whole scenario with my friends from the beginning. and i was really glad to be wrong. it relieved a huge burden of judgement i had been carrying.
but i had some of the same feelings and thoughts you do before becoming a mother, too, and no one i know had a harder time becoming a mother than you, so give yourself some credit. thanks for posting your growth experience for us to read. i know it's scary to make yourself so vulnerable, but reading these things make me ponder and help me change for the better. thanks for your example!

haylee said...

Thank you for sharing, Danielle. I love you, and I think you're a great mom...even when it's tough!