Before becoming a mom, I had this idea that motherhood would be instantly and constantly fulfilling. I mean, just look at the happy, glowing, bathed-in-light mamas on the covers of the parenting books. They are so content rocking their babies or sitting in a meadow looking well-rested and proud of their little one.
Then reality hit and I, like most new moms, saw motherhood for what it really is: absolutely constant. Breaks are few. Compliments are scarce. Days are long. Nights are short. Self-doubt is unrelenting.
But there are those moments — the ones promised by parenting books — that peek through during the long and often patience-thinning days. They are the moments I have been on the lookout for lately because I've been feeling like I am stuck in a fog of errands and stress and life. So I’ve been searching for these moments and focusing on them with laser sharpness.
Today, for example, I woke up in my bed an hour before my alarm went off because there was a pointy kneecap digging into my kidney. At first I thought, “Seriously? Can’t I even sleep alone?”
But once I extricated the knee from my back, I looked closer at the moment. My 3-year-old’s chubby arm was wound around my own. Her cheek was pushed against mine. To my left, my 7-year-old was asleep with her arm flung across my chest and her feet intertwined with mine.
I lay there for a minute, memorizing this feeling of being tangled up with the sweet, soft bodies of my babies. I snuggled in tighter, holding them and the moment close.
After that, it was easier to find joyful motherhood moments all day. I memorized the look of pride on my daughter’s face as she surfaced from her first under-the-water swim lesson.
I tried to freeze in my mind the way my first-grader beamed when she got off the bus and ran as fast as she could into my arms.
I concentrated on the feel of my 3-year-old’s hand in mine as we crossed the street. It’s a feeling I take for granted a million times a day, but I love how her little hand fits into mine.
Of course, those brilliant mommy moments were peppered throughout an otherwise normal and exhausting day. There were lessons and groceries and dinner and bickering over toys and spilled cereal when we were already late and if we don’t leave right now we are definitely going to be late!
But amidst all that, those moments shone through. So maybe the covers on the parenting books aren’t a lie after all. The moments of pure joy are there, although brief and scarce.
Maybe that’s what makes them so precious — if only I have eyes to see them.