Motherhood has made me feel more inadequate than I’ve ever felt before. Most of the time, “task mode” takes over, and all I can think of is what needs to be done next.
But every once in awhile, I pause for a second, and it hits me. These kids are my responsibility. I am their mom. I’m supposed to take care of them, nurture them, teach them, love them. It feels overwhelming at times, and it’s glaringly obvious to me that I have no idea what I’m doing. What was God thinking when he made me responsible for two tiny humans?
When they were infants, I was clueless, but my tasks were at least somewhat clear: feed, change, put to sleep, repeat. Of course, feeding was a struggle. It took weeks for my son to latch, and as “natural” as it’s supposed to be, nursing didn’t exactly come naturally. Changing diapers at 3 a.m. was no cake walk, and trying to rock one newborn to sleep while the other was crying in the crib brought me to tears on more than one occasion.
But the toddler stage? That’s a whole different beast. I still have to feed, change, put to sleep, repeat. But then there are about a thousand additional objectives that seem elusive. Feed them – but it’s not just breastmilk or formula for every meal. Figure out how to get them to eat something resembling a vegetable. Change them, but do so while they’re flailing their arms and legs in opposition – and they’re surprisingly strong! Get them to sleep, with teeth brushed, loveys in hand, a story read, and a coup against bedtime suppressed.
My twins are almost two, and we’re entering the season of independent wills. They’re learning to vocalize what they want and what they don’t want. Their vocabulary consists of only a few words, but somehow their ability to communicate their disagreement confounds me.
Questions constantly pollute my mind. Do I discipline them for that? Do they understand what they’re doing? How do I handle the tantrums? Why doesn’t he like sweet potatoes all of the sudden? Should I try to push their nap time later?
In the midst of the questions, reminders snap me back to the joys and challenges of parenting. I walk into their room in the morning and their smiles widen, taking up almost their entire face. They start to bounce up and down, and their little arms wave frantically in excitement to see me. Me!
And there are the times when my kids cry or fuss with everyone else, then run to me and throw their arms around my neck. The crying calms to a whimper, and the whimper fades to steady, slow breathing as they realize they’re okay, they’re safe, Mama’s there.
It’s not that I did anything special. They just needed me. When they’re sick, it’s my shoulder they want to bury their sniffling noses in. My daughter’s first word was “Mama” (my son’s was “uh-oh,” but I’ll analyze that another time). It’s me they mimic (a scary thought), and it’s me they look to for affirmation.
The responsibility weighs heavy on me, just as my eyelids weigh heavy on my eyes out of sheer exhaustion. My kids won’t always be happy to see me, they don’t always calm down when I hold them, and I know sometimes “Mama” will be followed by disrespect and frustration.
Despite reading books and Googling almost every parenting-related question imaginable, I still have no clue what I’m doing. But I am their mom. Inadequate? Yes. Tired? Of course. Desperately needing divine intervention to do this seemingly impossible task of parenting? Absolutely.
Because no one else gets to do this job for my kids, except me.