It’s hard to say when the journey began. It began maybe years, even decades ago, and there is no end to the journey in sight. I became a mother when my children were born. Two years after that moment, I still don’t fully understand what motherhood is. As my children grow, the meaning changes.
During different stages of my life, I have reflected on the significance of a mother and on what motherhood means. To me, it appears to have many different meanings. I don’t always clearly know what I think about it, or what I want in my own life.
As an adolescent girl, my thoughts were filled with loss and a longing for mother. The illness and death of my own mother left a gaping hole in my life as I grew up to be a young adult. Because my own mother was gone, I tangibly felt and saw how much a mother means in the life of a child. I thought, I will never marry, because I don’t want to be a mom. What if my own children had to lose their mom like I did? Nobody is a perfect mother, but nobody can replace a mother either. The responsibility felt too much to carry. I felt different than all of my friends. Many dreamed of a having a family and children.
Years later a time came when those thoughts changed. I met someone. Together we tried to find common direction and a mutual pathway. Becoming a family felt natural and the thought of being a mother was on my mind. However, our paths parted. Forever, or so we thought then.
The Heavenly Father’s will wasn’t the same as our thoughts. We were married and became a family that for years was a family of two. We knew that we might never have children, and we built our life according to that knowledge. Life was filled with many nice and meaningful things: an interesting and challenging job, interesting hobbies, and time spent together with dear ones. When burdens pressed my shoulders down, I felt tired. I remember thinking that I surely can’t tell any moms about being tired because of work or anything else. Their life must be many times as difficult and tiring as mine. I get to sleep at night, and I can rest pretty much any time. Fortunately, I had people close to me who understood. Each one of us feels tired at times, no matter our life circumstances. The burden weighing each one down is different, and it’s impossible to compare.
“Kaisa, are you pregnant?” The doctor asks the question before I have time to greet her upon entering the room. In my surprise I answer, “I don’t know. I hope so!” How has this happened? We weren’t supposed to be able to have children! “I see the beginning of two small humans here.” Tears fall on my cheeks. “Do you really?” My journey toward motherhood concretely begins.
Tiredness is different now. My own space has shrunk. I can’t always listen to my own thoughts right when I feel I would most need to. My own needs must often wait. The most surprising thing about motherhood is how much commitment it demands. Small children keep their parents very close. I have wanted to answer that need, though it is tiring at times. Time and outings that I take for myself have gained new significance.
“Mom, mom! Look!” my little ones come running into the kitchen. “Mom, mooom! Where’s mom?” can be heard from the playroom. I need to stir the gravy so it doesn’t burn. The washer beeps in demand from the laundry room. My stomach growls and I remember I didn’t have time for breakfast. I start to feel overwhelmed. How can I answer to all these needs? What is most important? What should I do first? Before, I cared for the needs of friends and myself, and now I must care for the needs of two little children. They attach themselves to me, not caring about the time or place. I can’t put their needs off until a couple hours from now, or tomorrow.
I thought many times during my life that I would never become a mother. Once again, the Heavenly Father had different plans. He granted me the great gift of motherhood and my children. They bring joy into my life with their authenticity, and it is moving how they act without inhibitions toward me, their mother. I have so much to learn from them:
“Mom came! Mom came!” Happy cries can be heard at the door when I come back from taking garbage to the trash can. Children’s joy is genuine. They already forgot that mom was crabby when she left to go outside just a moment ago.
The journey as a mother is in full swing. I can’t jump off to the side nor can I take a holiday from it. And, I wouldn’t want to. New stages in the children’s lives come and soon go. They cannot be practiced, and they are once-in-a-lifetime events for each child. The responsibility is huge, but it doesn’t feel so huge anymore. I am satisfied with my life as it is right now. I have felt this with all stages of my life. Sometimes feeling satisfaction with what I have right now has brought pain, and I have had to get to know myself. It is not always easy to be content with what the Heavenly Father has planned, no matter what the circumstances in life may be.
Now is the time to learn to be a mother. I think about how I can be a good mother and what I can do to give my children a good foundation for their lives. While pondering this difficult task, my thoughts return to my childhood home:
Dear mother, I remember how I curled up in your lap as a little girl. I cried my sorrows. I told my joys. I asked questions that were weighing on my mind. I asked for forgiveness and I preached forgiveness. You blessed me with the gospel. Your open views on life and the way you loved your friends and children has remained forever in my mind.
This all is the inheritance I would like to give to my own children.