Mantras of Motherhood

There it was, written on a yellow sticky note, stuck on the bathroom mirror. The three words that I would cling over the next several months. It Will Happen. I don’t think my husband realized when he wrote it, what influence those three words would have on our journey to conceive. It had been several months, perhaps even a year’s worth of trying to get pregnant, when he wrote this note. Those couple years tend to be a bit blurry. They were a roller-coaster of hope and disappointment each month as the pregnancy test would read negative once again. But I clung to those words, it will happen. I looked at that sticky note daily for affirmation that indeed one day, we would become parents.

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Well, it did happen. Almost a year after that sticky note, a few visits to the fertility clinic, a couple months of medication and many, many prayers, it happened. We had conceived. It was shortly after Valentine’s Day. I’ll always remember because that year my husband carved a small wooden heart for me, about the size of my palm, and painted it red. My heart would never be the same after that day, but in the best possible way. One Sunday morning, I thought, “maybe, just maybe this is it.” I shakily peed on the stick and waited an excruciating two minutes before turning it over. Pregnant. My heart pounded inside my chest as I carefully focused my eyes on the word I had longed to see. Pregnant. Yup, it was there. The fertility clinic was able to see us that day to confirm with a blood test. Sure enough, it was true.

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A couple weeks later, as the baby inside me began to grow, I was no longer trapped in the cycle of hope and disappointment, but found a different set of feelings sank it. Joy and worry. Sheer joy at the notion that life was growing inside me, that we were parents-to-be and soon we’d be holding our sweet bundle. But there was also worry. Are we really sure I’m pregnant? What if I lose the baby?  It seemed too good to be true, too long had we waited, too long had we wanted this. Then, there it was, a sticky note up on the bathroom mirror. Only this time, it read, It Happened. It had happened and there was no point in worrying. This sticky note with this updated phrase, it happened, encouraged me daily for the next several months as our baby grew.

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Finally, our sweet bundle of joy- our little girl, had arrived. She was everything we had hoped and dreamed she would be and more. She was a bit high maintenance though as far as newborns go and I know this now after having two babies. My son was so easy-going and a solid sleeper as a newborn. But our girl, she loved to be held. Not just held, we had to be constantly moving and holding her.  Her favorite was when we held her and bounced on our exercise ball. I was often up multiple times a night, bouncing on that dang ball for what seemed like hours. I would think and repeat to myself, “one day you’re going to miss this.”  Each night I was awake, for months, I would say these words. One day you’re going to miss this. This phrase I clamped on to. It made those nights a lot easier, and much more special.

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I hurriedly tried to finish wiping down the kitchen table and sweep up the last of the lunch crumbs off the kitchen floor.  Giggles, fast and furious footsteps, and tumbling blocks sounded in the background. A wailing scream followed, “Mama!” I put down the broom with a sigh and thought, It’s better than it was.  This would become my cleaning mantra. The house would never be as clean as it once was. There would always be something out of place. Tumbleweeds of dust swept under furniture and mountains of laundry would be left on the couch…for days. Jobs and chores left unfinished. But hey, after a quick wipe down, it’s better than it was.

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My four-year-old daughter slammed her bedroom door. Stomping feet and the thudding sound of stuffed animals and pillows hitting the wall, inevitably followed. She’s mad about something…again. “Oh Lord,” I mumble to myself, “Help me to be what she needs me to be.” Does she need a firm hand or a reassuring hug? Is she tired, hungry, hurt or testing her boundaries? Sometimes, it is really hard to tell what she needs from me. Sometimes, it is super obvious what she needs from me. Either way, sometimes what she needs is extremely difficult to give. My bucket feels empty. It hasn’t been filled all day or maybe all week, and yet, she still needs something from me, even if I have no clue what it is. This prayer, “help me to be what she needs me to be,” reassures me that God will work through me to provide for her needs.

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I have realized the importance of encouraging words, phrases or prayers in my life as a mom. Whether given to me by my husband or friend,  influenced by songs or books, or placed on my heart by God, these words or mantras, I’ve clung to. They’ve encouraged me, grounded me, and keep me focused on what’s important. They may change depending on the stage of motherhood I’m in, but they are always there.

Everytime my daughter calls out to me, ” Mom, come have a dance party!” I’ve made a commitment to myself and her that I will always stop loading the dishwasher, or folding the clothes, or whatever else I am doing, and join her to dance. Everytime. Because the state of the house, with the dishwasher half-loaded and clothes half-folded is, better than it was.

I will cherish each dance party moment with her. As we spin, jump, twirl, and tears are spilling down our cheeks from laughter, I’ll repeat to myself, “one day, you’re going to miss this.”  As I feel my body grow tired and the urge to just slump on the couch and rest overwhelms me, I will pray, “help me to be what she needs me to be.“ What she needs right now is for me to be a goofy dancer, a joy-bringer, a giggle buddy.

The song ends and we collapse in a heap on top of the half-folded pile of laundry that has taken over the couch, our faces aching from the smiles. I’ll think to myself,  this is as real as it gets and yes, it happened.

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