I believe that the hardest part of being a mother is learning things about yourself that you didn’t want to know.
Before I was a mother . . .
I did not know that after a full day of picking up toys and hounding others to do the same, a slew of inappropriate thoughts and words would come rushing into my mind when I stepped on a Mr. Potato Head piece at 2 a.m.
I had no idea that when I was awakened by a flashlight in my retina, spilled yogurt on the floor and the smell of a potty-training accident, it would take almost an entire day before I could let the angry feelings go.
I never thought that I would breathe out threatenings like a fiery dragon when my 4 1/2 year old still wouldn’t poop on the potty.
I wasn’t aware that when I function on almost no sleep, even the tiniest inconvenience can tip my scales and make me the wicked witch of the homestead.
I thought I was a morning person.
I even thought I was a patient and laid-back person. (laugh out loud)
I was punctual and responsible, and got really annoyed when other people were late. I think I’ve been on time to 6 events in the last 5 years.
- I certainly didn’t think I’d ever be one of those moms whose entire house is full of chaos and clutter.
(And don’t get me started on personal hygiene, and exercise and beauty routines …)
But the fact is, I did become a mom and I was forced to face some truths about myself that were quite shocking and disagreeable. Whenever new moms ask for advice, I always say, “Be prepared to learn things about yourself that you don’t like. It’s hard, but you’ll figure it out.” Of course this realization is wonderful, too, because it’s exactly what makes us turn to our Savior for help. Learning that we are not as strong as we thought we were makes us recognize how much we need Him. I always loved the scripture in Ether 12:27, and even more now that I’m a mom: “And if men [or women, or moms] come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” I just love that. Given the list above, how could I not?
(This entry was originally posted on August 23, 2008. I’m trying to recreate my lost archives.)
20 thoughts on “Facing your own demons”
And can I add that another part of being a mother is learning that you are capable of things you never knew you could do? There’s a positive side of course, so I don’t want to seem overly negative. It just surprised me how much motherhood has taught me about myself.
I SO SO SO agree!! For me, I learned how lazy I am. I never thought I was, but man, I am. It’s something I’m working to overcome.
I think anything I didn’t learn earlier is being learned now (or again) as my girls grow up and become more like me. My oldest and I clash sometimes (okay, almost every day) because we are too much alike. For instance, I get so frustrated when her room is a disaster, but one side of my room looks like the laundry monster puked all over it. There’s nothing like realizing the things you thought you’d never be are not only evident, but have been passed on to another generation. Yikes!
I could have written everything on your list, except I’ve always known I’m not a morning person. However it’s just worse now that I’m a mom!
It’s true. And it’s all about being put into a situation that exploits our weaknesses, and learning to overcome them. I have a very long list of weaknesses I’d like to overcome, but it sure isn’t easy. One at a time and, like you said, by the grace of God.
I think whatever thoughts came into your mind when you stepped on that Mr. Potato Head were entirely appropriate to the situation.
(I used to be an organized, prompt morning person, too. And I really miss it.)
I can completely relate…and find this post just want I needed to hear.
Sorry I’ve been missing from your comments section lately! I just realized that my Google Reader still had the old address!
THANK YOU!! This is ME! I was totally patient and laid back, just as you say. And I was aware of other people’s needs. Now I take care of my kids and don’t even think about anyone else. 😦 But it’s shocking and disturbing to find how irritable and angry I get far too often and far too easily. This post has a lot in common with the one I’ll be posting today.
I am glad you put that positive comment directly after your post. I really like to think that motherhood had brought a lot of good qualities out of me that I never thought I had. I knew I wasn’t a morning person, but surprisingly I cope really well in the morning. I already thought I was selfish and lazy so when I could go for days on end not thinking about myself, I was pleasantly surprised. I was always running late and although we still run late, I am more organised about it! I am sure as the children keep coming and the days get longer my comments will probably resemble yours a little more!! I love that you keep it real, Steph.
I’m sure we all feel this way at times. Thanks for these thoughts.
Amen and Amen from a mom of 19 years!
When do father’s get the gist that they aren’t the same? I mean, completely the same? I’m tired of hearing, “Jen, you’re always late! You need to leave 5-10 minutes earlier so you can arrive 5-10 minutes early.” Anyone here want to be early to something just so they can corral kids at church, on the soccer field, at the dr.s, etc.? Come on — let’s be real. I’ll start being 5-10 minutes early when I don’t have kids. 🙂
I have never been a particularly patient person, but I have to say that potty training has pushed my patience limit beyond anything I thought possible. I have a feeling that I will be right there with you on the 4 1/2 year old not pooping on the potty.
Trying to keep a (somewhat) organized home while keeping everyone clean, fed, entertained, and happy AND keeping my patience/sanity/loving feelings at the same time seems almost impossible to me at times.
This post reminds me of a quote from President Monson that I love:
“My dear sisters, do not pray for tasks equal to your abilities, but pray for abilities equal to your tasks. Then the performance of your tasks will be no miracle, but you will be the miracle.”
There was an old skit on Saturday Night Live about a dating service called “Lowered Expectations.” I have long thought that this is the key to happiness in mothernood: lowered expectations. Otherwise, you are constantly disappointed in yourself, and in the results you fail to inspire in your children. And by lowered, I don’t mean a lack of standards or expectations, but reality. Realistic expectations. Achievable goals. A list of things to do that will not require Wonder Woman plus a sidekick to accomplish.
I’m getting there.
I suspected I was a control freak before I had kids. I suspected that, if I couldn’t be the best at something, I didn’t want to play any more. I suspected that I wasn’t one to suffer fools kindly.
Then I became a mother, and I KNEW all those things were true. Worst of all, I realized I was the fool that others were having to indulge.
Motherhood has been a good experience for me, and I love my kids with all my heart. But it has also been one moment of “here’s your weakness, make it strong” after another. 22 years into this game, I’m not the best, and I still have to play. What’s THAT all about??
I am tired of all the older ladies in my ward telling me things like, “Oh, it just goes so fast! Cherish this time!” If I hear that one more time, someone might get kicked in the shin.
I will love having adult children.
I can sympathize with your woes–especially the potting training. Ugh. I hated that. Motherhood has been one gigantic does of humility after another. I thought many times after my first was born, “I have a college degree for crying out loud! Surely I can manage _____ (breastfeeding/potty training/temper tantrums, etc., etc.)!” Then you realize that NOTHING can really prepare you for all that you will face as a mom and you remember to get down on your knees and ask the One who knows you (and your kids) better than anyone else for help with breastfeeding, potty training, disciplining, help staying sane, etc…
I love your blog. It helps give me incouragment to keep going when things are rough. Makes me feel better that I am not the only mom that gets frustrated about things with my daughter. I only have one though. I can’t imagine how hard it is with three. Thank you for all your inspiring thoughts.
And I guess admitting these faults is the half the battle. I hate junk….but I have a house that is full of it. I have to just tell myself someday…….. someday I will organize it all.
Oh yeah. I sometimes do not like myself as a mother very much. Especially when I am tired. I’m mean when I’m tired. But what a wonderful thought at the end. I need to remember that.
i had no idea that i had anger management issues until i became a mom to a toddler and to multiple kids all at the same time. and i used to be a morning person, but i don’t know what kind of person i am anymore, unless impatient and unorganized counts. on the flip side, i was just thinking this morning during my prayer how much i’ve grown in the past 9 years since i first gave birth, and even though i don’t like seeing my weaknesses, i have definitely evolved sine then and learned to rely more heavily on the lord. and i guess that’s the point, isn’t it? hopefully i can teach my kids to do that as well, so that by the grace of god they can overcome the hangups and baggage that i give them via my own weaknesses!
I love this post! I especially love that scripture, and had never thought of it in relation to motherhood, but ho-boy you hit it dead on.
Thanks for that!