I'm not sure what made me drool so much over motherhood when I was young.
Maybe it was the fact that I was a baby-lover from the start. As the second of nine kids in my family I had my fair share of newborns around. I would count down the days, barely able to contain myself as I waited for each of my younger siblings to make their grand entrance.
There's this picture my Mom has of a couple of my siblings and me sitting on a bed with our newest baby brother. All of us were happy, I mean, who wouldn't be with a brand new baby in their arms? But that picture helps pour those memories of pining away for motherhood back in my mind. Because boy howdy you should the humongous grin stretched across my face. I'd watch my Mom with those babies and I simply couldn't wait. Someday I would get to be a Mom. Some day children would call me "Mother." I had stars in my eyes in anticipation.
In the meantime I'd "hoard" my brother and sister babies. I'd sneak in and hold them any chance I got. I'd watch them sleep. I'd sit for hours studying their tiny hands and feet. I'd watch my Mom in amazement as she allowed me and others to hold those sweet bundles. I'd wonder to myself about when I finally got my own babies…I was sure there was no way I'd ever be able to let
others hold them. I'd be much too enamored with them to let anyone else have a turn.
Time passed. I babysat those siblings. I read to them. I helped them when they had bad dreams. I even learned how to whip up a mean macaroni and cheese dinner. Yeah, I was totally ready to be a Mom.
Finally I got what I wanted. I was elated. I was "Mother." I held that first little bundle in my arms about to burst with joy. He took my breath away. I couldn't get enough of drinking him in.
But as joyful as I was, at some point in my motherhood career it finally hit me: this wasn't as easy as my Mom made it look.
Not even close.
Gradually I realized I had no idea about all the stuff my Mom did on the sidelines while I "raised" my seven younger siblings. Yeah, after babysitting them and shepherding them around for so many years I pretty much figured I had it down. Motherhood would be a breeze.
I was wrong.
I forgot to factor in the whole tantrum thing. Or the ball-point pen murals I'd find all over the new couch. Or the sleepless nights. Or the feelings of being drenched in throw up. In all my youthful daydreaming I didn't factor in the worry I'd have over how to build up self-esteem in a particular child or how to overcome health issues for others. I was unaware of how draining it would be to try to get five sets of teeth brushed, 50 toenails clipped, and multiple heads of hair done on a regular basis. And I certainly didn't factor in the balance and determination it would take to really "be there" for a husband and five children…all the time.
Nope, I didn't anticipate that.
But you know what? I also didn't anticipate that all that stuff would make my job as a Mother that much MORE rewarding. All the interruptions, complications, worry and stress mean that I am a Mother. And they make the good stuff that much better in comparison.
I didn't realize that being a mother would be a refining fire, the good and the bad both working simultaneously to make me stronger, better, and more joyful.
As I have struggled and bloomed in "the trenches" of motherhood there are a few "secrets" I have learned along the way. All mothers have them. They're those moments where the light bulb lights up and you realize that hey, this works. My own amazing Mother, after raising her own NINE kids, has also compiled quite a stash of Motherhood "secrets." And last year we decided what the heck, let's combine them and write a book.
We worked away as busy as bees and all our efforts came to fruition in a book called "A Mother's Book of Secrets: Keys to Making Motherhood Memorable, Meaningful, and Magnificent" that now lines the shelves of many bookstores. It's a compilation of 40 motherhood secrets: twenty from my Mom with her motherhood view of looking back after having raised her children, and twenty from me from my perspective right now…the good, the bad and the ugly.
But mostly the good. Because the biggest secret we moms know is that as tough as motherhood is, it is good. Very very good. We get to nurture these sweet little spirits entrusted into our care through thick and thin.
C.S. Lewis once said, "What do ships, railways, mines, cars, and government exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes?...[the Homemaker's] job is one for which all others exist."
And you know what? I think he's right. We Mothers have the most important job in the world. And we're pretty darn lucky because of it.
Shawni Eyre Pothier is the mother of five children between the ages of eleven and two. She received a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and is an accomplished writer, speaker and presenter. Shawni is also in demand as a photographer specializing in images of children and families. She, along with her Mother Linda Eyre, are the authors of the book "A Mother's Book of Secrets: Keys to Making Motherhood Memorable, Meaningful and Magnificent" available at Deseret Book. Portions of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Foundation for Blind Children and the Foundation for Fighting Blindness. You can read more of Shawni's writing on her blog Life - www.71toes.blogspot.com .