I always longed for children, to share my love with the bundles of joy and have endless days of fun.
Then I had children and things changed! I was not a spring chicken when I had my first and then by the time I had my last I was an overweight hen loosing her feathers and looking long past my sell by date.
So what happened from the ideal, rosy, chocolate box cover of pre motherhood?
Reality happened. Three children (four if I count my angel in Heaven, but she is no bother at all) all very different and a combination of my husband and myself. But then I should have known mixing the genes up that what came out of the pot would be interesting to say the least.
My husband is shy, likes to plan things to the nth degree, is very intelligent, has very little idea of people's feelings and can be distant. He is kind and caring in his way, has obsessions and works hard for us all. Loves structure. He is a perfectionist and definitely very complicated.
On the other hand I am more outgoing, will talk to most people, am self opinionated, generous to a silly proportion, in other words too generous as I forget to think about myself and then moan no one cares. Have moments of genius, but mostly bumble on. Have bags of common sense and find it hard when others don't. Like fluidity. Love lots of hugs, but tend to be very critical. And have a rubbish short and long term memory. Complex I think might be the term for me.
So let us put all of this into the mix and see what we have produced.
One child is super artistic with little common sense, but can make fantastic models and you can have amazing conversations with. Is outgoing but also shy, longs to please and loves lots of hugs. He is a perfectionist and also very laid back. He has little idea of time management. He is very determined once he sets his mind on something. He is messy, hairy, compassionate and full of love for others. He loves God passionately.
Number two is very complicated, loves, doesn't love, can't bear hugs and is often distant, outgoing if she knows the person, shy if she doesn't, very determined to do her thing. Likes to sit back and watch everyone else as they work. Puts huge efforts into her projects and takes months to rest afterwards. Is compassionate and kind, to the silly degree, and moans no one cares. Sees only her point of view and is always right. Intelligent but frustrated by short and long term memory problems. Likes to be alone but also wants to be with friends. Finds the world very confusing, and does not do talking about God.
Number three is full of fun, very sporty and laughs, smiles, hugs, loves, has lots of friends and is outgoing. She is an observer, watches a lot to see if things are okay and if in her mind they are then she goes all out for it. She is a whirlwind. She knows her own mind, has bags of common sense, and thinks a lot. She likes to figure things out especially when God is involved in the conversation. She is a problem solver, a peace maker and a strong person. She is independent and clever.
So five very different and also in some areas similar characters all in one house. All vying for attention from the mother figure, yes even the husband.
The house can seem like a whirlwind at times, with me in the middle. With such different personalities I have at times burst at the seams. A messy spew of words and arms being hurled everywhere. At these times I have gushed like a volcano and sent fiery molten in all directions. When the outburst has finished I feel rotten, defeated and miserable. Everyone disappears to their rooms, yes even my husband!
It is at points like this that I put pen to paper and write a love letter to my children. I tell them how much I wanted them, how much I love them, how special they are, how amazing it is to be their mother and to ask for forgiveness. Adults make mistakes, we were not given a 'How to be a successful parent' manual when they were born. I make mistakes, my need to be a good mother can sometimes be a burden as my 'wanting to get it right as my mother didn't' tape is stuck. I need their forgiveness, as well as my own, as I know I have got it wrong. The realization that I am only human and getting old, tired and frustrated with myself pushes me to extreme behaviour. It was my fault and they bore the brunt of my anger.
The love letters I noticed are stacked up in my number two daughter's chest of drawers, 'for her to read when she feels down', (in her words) and to remind her that I do love her even when I get cross.
Now when I look at children, I no longer wish to be a parent, I just pray that I have been a good one to my three.
Being a mum has been the most amazing journey of my life. My children have taught me so much about love, forgiveness and compassion, with their simple trusting natures, innocent views and fun filled laughter. My son is now a man of twenty learning how to fly the nest. My two daughters 16 and 13 walking the path of teenage, that is at times both traumatic and scary stepping from childhood to young adulthood, not knowing which side of the bridge they are from day to day.
I bless the day God gave me children and I in turn had to find myself along the way. For God is so close to them and has taught me many lessons that I would not have learned if I had not become a mother.
So often they are mirrors of ourselves, and if we don't like what we see then we need to pray that we will be humble enough to ask God to help us change ourselves to the person He wants us to be. Children copy and have our genes, they are lessons for our growth. This can be a painful truth. If we are to grow in God's love then we are to know ourselves.
When I row with my number two teenager, the reflection can be very painful. And I realize that it is me who has to change. My chocolate box family has definitely been smashed, but God's Grace is there to replace it if I am honest enough to accept the real box of treats instead. As much as I hate to admit that my daughter is right at times about some of my actions, it is a chance for me to stop and reassess my reactions. How apt that teaching 'Unless you become like little children', indeed my daughter is showing me how far I have gone from that trust and love that I had spoken of to my children.
They say as you get older you get wiser, but maybe we need to listen to the wisdom of our children as they see us for who we really are, as they get older. Our masks are no longer a protection. If we are to be good role models then a closer inspection of our motives and what drives us might be the MOT that we need to ensure a future loving relationship with our older children.
Having children is a risk and a challenge. If you want to know yourself then children are a great way of showing you who you are, warts and all. Having said that God knows you too, warts and all as well, and his decision to continue to love and stay with you as a friend never alters. You are his divine daughter/son and nothing can ever change that. We may be challenged by our own children, but then God will use those challenges to steer us closer to Him if we 'see' and 'hear' his calling at those optimum moments.
God bless all mothers, you are doing a wonderful thing having children.