As I biked up beautiful Snow Canyon with my five wonderful kids and my excellent husband on the Saturday before Mother's Day, I had a little flashback to a day almost exactly 12 years ago when motherhood seemed like an impossible dream to me. I'd headed down from Boston to DC for my sister Shawni's baby shower (she was expecting her first baby soon) and we were doing some baby shopping with my mom (who'd come out from Utah for the shower). As we were looking at strollers and car seats, I was hit by this overwhelmingly sad thought - "This might never happen for me. I'm getting older. What if I never find my husband? What if I do but I can't have kids? Here's my little sister, so close to becoming a mother - what if I never get that chance?" I remember standing there in the aisle of Babies R Us bawling and trying to explain to my moms and sister why I was so emotional. Would I ever be a mother? Would I ever be picking out a stroller for my own child? Would I ever get to hold my own little baby in my arms? Would I get to see little children of my own grow and develop into wonderful people? Would I have children to shop for strollers with when they got ready to have their own children some day?
About six months after that little break-down, I got to know Jared. And by the time Shawni's little Max was 15 months old, Jared and I were married. We were pregnant by our first anniversary. And the kids just kept coming - Isaac 19 months after Ashton, Eliza 19 months after Isaac, then the big finale of Oliver and Silas 23 months after Eliza. We had crazy years of colicy babies and rambunctious toddlers and 1000's of diapers and so many big messes and plenty of crying and spit up and sleep deprivation - and sometimes it was hard in the midst of the mahem to remember that I got exactly what my heart had yearned for - in abundance! But as each little child learned to say "mama" and put their chubby little arms around my neck to give me big slobbery kisses, my heart swelled and I remembered how very very blessed I was to be a mother. So many women never get to be mothers. It just doesn't work out sometimes. But my dream came true. I am a mother.
When we stopped for a rest on our bike ride last Saturday, I told these beautiful big kids of mine about how much I'd yearned for them. I told them about how I'd cried in thinking I might never get them when I was shopping with Shawni all those years ago. I told them how much I love them and how grateful I am that they made me into a mom.
There are things you can learn in many ways - but there are also some things you can only really learn from being a mom. Some of the lessons are hard - but all of them are worth the price. Motherhood brings experiences that build us by tearing us down and that grow us by stretching us quite painfully. Motherhood has made me a more patient, more loving,more creative, more understanding, more adaptable person that I ever could have been without it. Motherhood has given me the powerful experience of helping to create and shape the lives of others while they help create and shape me. But most importantly, motherhood has given me this amazing experience to love and be loved in a uniquely beautiful way.
I'm so grateful that I get to be a mother. I'll take the hard with the good - the good is so very, very good. I wished for motherhood with all my heart - and sometimes it seemed like this unattainable dream. Now I look at these fabulous little people I get to call my children and realize that motherhood is so much more than I ever even knew to wish for - it's so much more important and joyful and hard and beautiful and stretching and powerful than I could have guessed without actually experiencing it. I needed these experiences and these children more than I ever could have realized before it all began and probably more than I realize even now. I got more than I anticipated in so many ways. I am blessed beyond measure.