*Melanie's comment on the post below reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend from church when I was relating Sunshine's comment to her. I'm glad I was reminded because I remember now that I meant to mention it along with that picture. I told my friend about my response to Sunshine's beautiful expression; how I was delighted to see her looking forward to the beauty of motherhood, as Melanie put it but how I also wanted to make sure she saw how hard taking care of a baby is to have a balanced perspective, not to scare her from the challenge, but to be better prepared for the realities of it. I wanted her to realize how I need every bit of help I can get from everyone in the family and sometimes that isn't enough to take care of it all. How taking care of a baby requires sacrifice that is repaid 10 fold in a single giggle or coo. How motherhood is tiring and physically painful sometimes but how I wouldn't give it up for a minute. That babies are hard work but that moments like the one she was having made it all worth it.
I told my friend that I remember being shocked by my first days/weeks/months of motherhood with The Professor and I wanted Sunshine to have a realistic impression, not my rose colored view. I think the tint of those glasses contributed to a lot of my grumpiness, frustration and even a bit of depression in those early days. I was a pretty miserable person to my husband, myself, yes even my first little babe sometimes. I hope that Cupcake's existence in our life will better prepare my older kids for those early days with their new families, should that be God's will for them.
My friend, the oldest of five, surprised me by agreeing that she too was caught off-guard by the full demands of motherhood. I guess it's true that noone is completely prepared when it's their baby and they are the primary caregivers. Whether it's the time that is no longer your own, the demands a baby places on you and the schedule of your day that is now at the mercy of the helpless little one in your arms or the complete mental and physical exhaustion that comes from trying to provide for all the needs and wants of a completely irrational little being, something is going to make you feel things you didn't expect to feel. It can make you feel rotten. Here is the fulfillment of years of heartfelt desire, to cradle this visible sign of your love in your arms, and yet you might be battling feelings of resentment and disappointment at the same time.
It's something that's not discussed openly especially in pro-life circles and when it is, it's most likely chalked up to post-partum depression. No one wants to give even the vague impression that they might be less than thrilled for even a minute regarding caring for this tiniest creation of God's unless it can be blamed on a chemical or hormonal imbalance. But shouldn't it be discussed more openly? There are aspects of motherhood that are really gross. Does anyone here joyfully look forward to a warm, wetness running down the space between (if you know what I mean) when your precious one spits up and the nearest burp cloth is in the laundry? Does anyone here happily leap out of bed to change a diaper at 2 am? Of course, we do it because the reward, earthly and heavenly, is worth it and so much more but that doesn't mean that we can't be real about our struggles without wallowing in them, or course.
We are all working on holiness, none of us is perfect and a feeling is a real thing to be acknowledged. It's an expression of our soul. It doesn't make us who we are nor is it the sum total of what we believe, but it is real. It's also something that we can't always control. It might be evidence of an area of immaturity or selfishness that should be addressed. It might just simply be a feeling that needs to be acknowledged before we can move on from it. I tell my kids all the time, especially in these hormonal roller-coaster years, "You can't always choose how you feel, but you can choose how you respond to those feelings and you can choose how they lead you to act."
My point in this long ramble is that I do want my children to see the beauty of motherhood and get to experience a taste of the delights. But I don't hide the tears. I let them flow when they come (much less frequently now) and I tell them whether they are happy or sad tears. Tears of tiredness, frustration or jubilation. I want to share it all with them each as much as they are ready to share in hopes that they will remember these days and be comforted by the memory of them when it's their turn.
Updated to add from the combox regarding loved ones who's disapproving looks at your family make you feel like you have to wear a perpetually happy mask:
I know what you mean. Those people who love you but don't understand why you would "put yourself through this difficulty" and who's solution to the problem is to "make it easy on yourself and stop having so many kids". You know, those people would never tell an Olympic gymnast to stop exercising, stop getting up at 4am to practice so much, stop putting her body through all of that pain and anguish just to win a gold medal. Those people would probably admire her for her hard work and dedication. Just consider yourself going for the gold medal of motherhood. It takes work, pain, sweat and tears but the reward in Heaven will be worth it!
*Speaking of sweet Melanie, please offer a prayer for the repose of the soul of her grandmother and the grieving loved ones who will miss her.