David is busy and independent. He roams all over the house, opening cupboards, playing with his toys and knocking things over. He loves music and I can frequently find him playing his keyboard like it’s feeding his soul. I’ve even started to bring keyboards on vacation with us. It’s his favorite activity he seems to need music in his life. Although independent, he also leans on us to help him eat, keep him medicated and change his diapers. He is a complex mix of determination and helplessness. This dichotomy is so much a part of our lives, I hardly notice it anymore.
Matthias is changing week by week into a big kid. Although he’s affectionate and still loves to snuggle, he gets annoyed with too many reminders. He wants to be able to decide important things, like, what snack he’ll have and what time he should go to bed. He is kind, sensitive and sometimes dramatic. He is artistic and full of imagination. He’s a picky eater and a great companion. He’s a younger brother who has turned into a bigger brother and he seems perfectly comfortable with this role.
As a mother, my heart wants to give these two boys everything. I want to cuddle and nurture and listen to each one. I want to know their likes and dislikes and show each of them how special they are by making their favorite foods, planning their favorite activities, and nurturing their hobbies and interests. I want to give them opportunities and my heart breaks when a knee is skinned or a friend is cruel. I know life’s difficulties create a softer heart, but I still wish I could protect them from pain.
And in the midst of all this loving and nurturing and wanting to be everything for them, it sometimes happens. I look inside and find myself feeling empty. I am out of energy and out steam. My patience is gone and fatigue sets in. The mundane threatens my sanity and I think, “If I have to change one more diaper or clean up one more spilled juice, I’ll lose my mind!” I feel my throat tighten and frustration in my chest. In my wanting to be everything I feel like nothing and I can almost hear the word ‘failure’ whispered in my ear.
I don’t come with any great words of wisdom or pat answers as to how to avoid the sheer exhaustion that accompanies motherhood. I’m learning to nurture my own heart, to let go of guilt and maybe little by little to let motherhood be imperfect. Despite my lack as a mother, these boys seem to be thriving. With a job so demanding, so incredibly important and sometimes so completely mundane I find I am prone to extremes. And while I am simultaneously overwhelmed by love for these boys and the sheer number of items on my to-do list I am thankful to be their mother. Even at extremes, I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Do you find yourself at extremes? How do cope with the highs and lows of motherhood?