After my first child was born, life got terribly messy, and not just from spit-up and dirty diapers. The transition from working full time to being a stay-at-home mom was difficult. I went days, sometimes weeks, without speaking to another adult, other than my husband for a few minutes at night and maybe the cashier at the grocery store.
I felt isolated and escaped the house in the evenings as much as I could. I thought getting out of the house and doing something, anything, would bring a sense of purpose to my life. A sense of accomplishment.
But, depression and anxiety silently crept in. My evening escapes did nothing to cure my loneliness or feelings of unimportance. I wanted proof of accomplishment each day, and changing diapers, cleaning bottles, and doing laundry didn’t seem like enough.
Resentment slowly bubbled to the surface as I watched my husband leave for work every morning. He had a real life. A life that seemed important. A life in which he was accomplishing and earning. I was jealous of the freedom he had, the social life that I didn’t. And my jealousy transformed into anger.
I hated myself for the way I felt. Depression, anxiety, and resentment were not the characteristics that I wanted to model for my daughter. Motherhood felt like a burden instead of the blessing that I knew it was.
I repeatedly begged God to change my heart. I prayed for help to embrace and accept my role as a mom, and I hoped for a miraculous change in perspective.
But I continued to wish for more, a higher calling perhaps. I wished the days away, the days in which I was accomplishing little and felt insignificant. I wished for a more important role than that of “just” being a mom.
Until my next pregnancy ended at 20 weeks.
As I held a baby who fit in the palm of my hand, a baby who was no longer alive, I suddenly realized how big all of those small and seemingly unimportant moments of motherhood are. Changing diapers and giving baths, making bottles and picking up a crying baby, again. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do any of these things for this baby, and I hadn’t appreciated the gift of being able to do these things for my daughter.
I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to go back and do all of those things for her again. But it was too late, her baby years were over and I felt like I had missed them. I was full of regret and felt foolish for not recognizing the significance of both her baby years and my early years of motherhood.
Eighteen months after my loss, I was blessed to bring another baby home, a boy. I welcomed the dirty diapers and vomit. The baths and laundry. The crying and endless needs of one who could not help himself.
I quickly learned to appreciate the little moments and accept the little inconveniences. I had learned the hard way that life is fragile and realized how fleeting each moment of a child’s life is.
So, I’m a great mom because I no longer turn down an invitation to sit and color or create a Lego masterpiece. I have stopped rushing through bedtime routines and take every opportunity to read just one more story. I gladly wrap my arms around my children for just a little bit longer. The piles of laundry, marker on the walls, stickers on the windows, and stained carpet no longer phase me. For these things are the signs of living, thriving children.
I now delight in the mundane moments of motherhood, even the messes, for I know that one day these long days will seem short-lived.
This article was originally published at Today Parenting Team.