Those ten minutes of intense hot water hitting my back can bring joy to my day. Ask any mother and she will tell you that she never realized the simple luxury of taking a shower. Alone. Three minutes in, I hear the door open. Boys giggle. The sound of their tiny man clothes hitting the bathroom floor. Gradually I witnessed the progression of the boys entertainment shift from squirting water toys, to throwing ice cold water on one another. Lately, they have been requesting vials of all sorts and shapes to enter the bath tub. This has turned into saving these vials, storing them on the shower sides, until the water turns ice cold for the next shower adventure. I run into the bathroom hearing squealing and laughter, the boys are dumping cold water on each other. What a cute little game they are playing. Until I was the one who was going to be the victim.
They waited for the perfect moment. The moment my eyes were closed scrubbing in the volumizing shampoo in my hair, magically wishing for those curly locks I have always dreamed of. I couldn’t help but scream in surprise. The boys reveled in my reaction. To be honest, my first instinct was to be angry. How dare my sons treat their mother this way!? But then laughter and joy took over. I swiped the Dr. Bronner’s soap empty container, laughed hysterically and chased the boys with the coldest water I could find.
Ironically, this fate of “ruined” luxury showers has followed me my whole life. I was subject to an older brother. One who liked to frighten me at nighttime, his face covered with a sheet saying… Evil Demons…scary. Or another nightly routine of stacking toys on me while I was sleeping. A brother who taught me how to be tough. To fight for what I wanted. When we were children, we had an unspoken ritual. When the other was taking a shower, we would secretly fill a pot of ice water, tip toe into the bathroom, being quiet as a mouse- and dump the water over the shower curtain. And wait for the beautiful sound of the other squealing from the shock!
Boys. Brothers. I stand amazed at what my 3, 4, and 6 year old sons already do to one another. The things that they think are funny. I often bribe them from speaking potty words by telling them I will tell their future wives about it, I know this is ridiculous but I love to watch their squirm in embarrassment over it! What I love most about being surrounded by testosterone is that it forces me to be less emotional. To be active. To roll down a dirty crusted leaves and grass hill with them. To challenge myself in making a paper airplane come to life. To be brave climbing boulders.
I didn’t use to feel this way. When I was younger I never pictured myself having all boys. I dreamed of what my future children would be like. Tea times. Dressing up barbies, and painting each others nails.
I used to avoid sitting on the ground, only to be bombarded by football style tackling boys. “Mommy is fragile,” I would say. But now, mothering three sons has taken on a new face. I have been given a second chance at what it means to really know, listen, and interact with my children.
I am on a journey to grasp what really matters with the boys. I could punish myself for all the time wasted. To live in regret of all the times that I was distracted by the desires of my heart. The art I wanted to create. The Oprah shows that could have waited. The emails and Facebook statuses that could have been ignored. I rationalized the way I acted to the fact that I was 20 when I first became pregnant. I had no idea who I was. Or what I wanted. Frankly, I was selfish. Sadly, I remember when I first started this blog, my tiny tots were glued to the TV while momma “expressed” herself. They patiently waited, longing for me. To teach them, to play with them. Oh, how it could have waited till they were asleep.
One thing that I do not doubt is that I have shown my children love. And I used to think that love was enough. I would demonstrate the normal ways a mother would love her children. Bake cookies, trips to the park, bed time stories. However, this is not good enough. For me. To really love my sons I must deny myself. I must say no to this world of fast paced living. A world driven by time, busy schedules, and never ending technology. I became so blinded by the things I saw as important. To reevaluate if that ring from my phone is worth stopping a book in mid sentence. To reconsider how essential it is to have a perfect tidy home. “Sorry boys, Mom is trying to clean the house.” I would wrongly snap at them if I had to pause what I was doing.
I will not lead a life of regrets. Or self condemnation for the times I have ignored them. I was so busy trying to discover myself. Giving birth to three sons in exactly three years was not exactly easy. Tandem nursing the little loves, changing diapers, and holding on to a sense of who I was despite being mom. I was a young mom who was secretly resentful/jealous of other girls my age who were getting to do what they want. Girls that did not have to worry about scheduled bed times and naps. Girls that were not concerned with potty training or learning how to discipline without being angry.
Looking into their beautiful big blue eyes, I grasp the memories of what they were like as babies. Like every parent, we are so quick to blame and shame ourselves of mistakes we have made. Or ways we have failed. This is not the point. It is only a trap, a prison, to not grow and change. My eyes have been opened to the beauty of motherhood. It is not supposed to be stressful. Or a duty that I must perfect. I thank God that He has given me these bursting beautiful boys. I am thankful that I have turned over annoyance to laughter. A few years ago I found myself complaining to an older woman about the noise level in this house, she turned to me and answered,”At least they have voices to speak.” This was the catalyst for me as a mother.
I used to see Mother’s Day as a chance for my children to smother me with gifts, bring breakfast to me in bed, pamper myself in every way possible (which is not in itself a bad idea) but now I can take great pleasure in watching my kids whirl in delight at the amusement park. Devour a meal, then ask for seconds, and say I am the greatest chef. Have the chance to witness their accomplishments of riding their bikes, and the failure of taking the training wheels off for the first time and encouraging him to try again. To celebrate that I am a mother because of them. I have the chance to experience character change, considering their wants and desires before my own. To aid them in their personal growth as thriving men.
I have complete compassion with the mommas that are fed up with the daily tantrums, the never endless meal times and Mount Everest’s of laundry baskets awaiting your nights. Or the moments of inadequacies knowing you did not show love in a moment. All I can say this eve of Mother’s Day, we will be better tomorrow. We are in a process of becoming the mother we imagine. In the mean time, I can change the way I view my children. And myself. I can take a breath knowing that with each day mercy is given. When I wake up tomorrow morning, I can give glory to the One who has given me this gift of life. Of sons who need and love me. To know I am a really blessed woman to have a house full of men. To wake up tomorrow with joy in my heart to give them their morning cereals, kiss their owie’s, and teach them that life is good…
“The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for.” anonymous