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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thoughts on motherhood

Stephen asked me recently whether I enjoyed being pregnant. There are certainly loads of things that are not enjoyable; nausea, stretching ribs, stretch marks, contractions. Then there are those things that in my previous pregnancies I have greatly enjoyed but have not been as exciting this time; sporting a cute baby bump, wearing maternity clothes, and accumulating baby items. I think this has something to do with this being my fourth pregnancy but mostly has to do with this pregnancy coming so quickly after my last one.

What I told him, though, was that the privilege of being pregnant is getting acquainted with our baby before anyone else. He's looking forward to Maggie's arrival, but their relationship hasn't really begun. As I'm writing this, she is here with me making her presence known.

I was tempted to complain this week about my growing size. Then I saw a picture of little Oliver, the 4th son of my college friend, born at home on May 6th. Then I found out that my good friend, Autumn, at nine weeks gestation, miscarried. Of course, this miscarriage reminds me of the recent loss of my three little nephews. The grief of life being lost and the joy of life coming forth was definitely more overwhelming than my discontent in my size.

Listening to NPR this week, I heard a story which claimed that according to a survey children do not increase happiness. The conclusion was either we were making mistakes having children or they bring something to our lives that trumps happiness. Most moms in the world would probably scoff at this survey. Of course our kids make our lives happier.

But when we are truthful with ourselves, our kids probably increase our sorrow, our worry, our purpose, and our joy. Potentially none of these is directly equated to happiness or maybe they cancel each other out on the happy scale. I will say that my kids make my life rich with emotion, rich with work, rich with increased faith (necessary in the process). My life experience may not be happier but it is richer.

My birthday was this past week. I turned 29. Stephen and I were discussing what our reactions would be to turning 30. I'm embracing the perspective that getting older is only frustrating when you gain a year without having really lived that year, when you waste a year in fear, indecision, laziness, or materialism. I feel like my children have helped me to live each year.

Last Mother's Day, I believe I woke up in the middle of the night when Jello colored puke was coming from my children's bodies. I know I woke up in the middle of the night to feed our then one month old.

In contrast, today, I woke up when our five year old daughter came in to our room. She was the first one up in the house, remembered it was Mother's Day, and wanted the first words out of her mouth to be "Happy Mother's Day, Mommy." Then our one year old woke up and instead of crying simply said, "Mama" to let me know he was no longer sleeping. It was a moment that definitely increased my happiness.

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