I, at times, have complained about Finn's lack of sleep, his extreme attachment, and his sensitive nature. I may have made it look like my struggle with motherhood was his fault. That couldn't be further from the truth. Having Finn in our family is probably the greatest gift ever. He is hilarious and sweet and charming. He freely doles out hugs and kisses. He is such a good boy. Words really fail me in describing how awesome this little person is. Parenthood on the other hand......
Parenthood is a lesson in self-sacrifice. Parenthood is about seeing the needs of others and serving them before you take care of your own. It also appears that this characteristic of selflessness doesn't come automatically with the arrival of your child. Instead, it is painfully grown with each act and decision.
I find myself remembering the parents of my childhood. I remember my mother's clothes--faded, worn, and outdated. I have two pictures of a particular pink nightgown of hers separated by at least ten years. She did not get new clothes often; the money instead went to modestly outfit us. My mother also had very little time for any hobbies. The only thing I remember her doing away from us kids was her early morning walk while we were all sleeping. It wasn't until I was in high school that she was able to paint and take art classes on a regular basis, not to mention reading books for fun. It makes me wonder if she ever felt resentful like I sometimes do.
I hate the question: "What do you like to do?" I have had a couple of people ask me that question since being a mother. What can I answer? I can tell you what I used to enjoy back when I had time to pursue hobbies and interests, but I haven't done any of those for two years. I find myself longing for the days when I had complete control over what I did during the day, when I could fill up my time with whatever I desired. I wonder if I would feel less conflicted if I just embraced my current identity: a mother to a young and demanding child. I just need to accept the fact that no time is my own.
Parenthood is a molding process. In some respects, it reminds me of this quote by C.S. Lewis:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
Parenthood is a process that restructures your values, priorities, and identity. It at times feels like someone is banging around and tearing up my insides. Ultimately, I know I will be a better person, a person who is more compassionate and thoughtful and selfless. I think some people start parenthood off with a more selfless heart and a more giving nature. For them, initiation to parenthood is smoother. I, however, am still stumbling and trying to find my footing. So understand that when I complain and kick against the pricks, I am just adjusting, albeit slowly, to a new kind of existence.