It’s almost 20 years since my “I want to be a mom when I grow up” dreams came true. I would never have imagined how deeply love could hurt and how much I would be changed by it. So, in celebration of my almost two decades of being a mom of three — all of whom are teenagers at the moment (that should be a celebration in itself) — I bring you the 20 lessons I’ve learned on this journey of motherhood:
- How many diapers you can go through in a day. No, seriously. How could someone so little produce so many dirty diapers?
- How little sleep you can survive on. I mean three 20 minute intervals of sleep can really get you somewhere. Coffee will also become your bestie.
- How many times a toddler can say “why” in a day; nope, in an hour.
- How quickly a preschooler can create a tornado when left alone for five seconds (or worse yet, two preschool siblings together).
- How “bedtime” will become your favorite word (and time) of the day.
- How potty-training is _______ oh, you go ahead and fill in the blank. All I’m gonna say is I survived it three times. Also, never promise your child they won’t fall in. Mistakes were made and one child did indeed fall in.
- How toddlers and teens are almost the same — they don’t understand their size, they think they’re invincible, they throw tantrums, and they demand to have their independence. But, there’s also an incredible sense of adventure.
- How much a special needs diagnosis can change your perspective on what matters most.
- How amazing it feels the first time you hear “Mommy.” I waited seven years to hear it from our youngest.
- How the road to independence rolls at a rapid, irreversible pace once they go off to kindergarten.
- How stupid Common Core math is … but seriously, when it’s anything beyond basic math, please go find your father.
- How much joy you can experience from watching your child learn something new. Remember the first steps? The first bike ride without training wheels? When they got their driver’s permit?
- How much it hurts to watch your child hurt. Traveling in an ambulance with your child will be hard. Watching your child hurt emotionally from a friend’s wounds will be harder.
- How losing your child with autism when he escapes from a wagon on a walk begins a police hunt in three towns and turns into the longest 20 minutes of your life …and how much relief you feel when you finally hold your child again.
- How weird middle school can be — the smells, the frenemies, the quirks that are all part of developing.
- How much fun you will have! Seriously, everything is more FUN through the eyes of a child.
- How much it stinks when you hurt your own child, but then realizing apologizing will go further than always being right.
- How much sleep you will lose as a parent well after the infant years (refer back to #2). I’d take those midnight feedings again over waiting for a new driver to make it home safely.
- How much your children will fight with each other, but how much more fiercely they will fight others who try to hurt their siblings.
- How the days are LOOOONG, but the years are short! Our second child is graduating from high school in six weeks!
Motherhood is full of endless challenges, demands, and sacrifices. It is hard, exhausting, and will push you to your limits. I started my motherhood journey wanting to do everything perfectly. I mean who has a baby and says, “I really want to screw this up?” But very quickly, I learned a lot about myself as God used my own children to work His grace out in my daily living. He helped me redefine what matters most and what expectations needed to be rewritten and revised. It’s all worth it to be raising emerging adults who love God, are compassionate, responsible, resourceful, and want to make a difference in the world.
Happy Mother’s Day to all moms and to all the women who have invested in my children — and children all over the world. You are loved.