I would have thought by the time she turned ten, I'd have been a bit of an expert.
Motherhood? Got it.
Instead, last Friday she turned ten and I ran myself ragged trying to please everyone ten times over and maybe I was successful. Or maybe I'm just kidding myself and we're never really a success at this motherhood gig because the world doesn't measure success with the immeasurable.
There's no way to tally up points and determine if I've got it right after ten years because every new day is a journey and a milestone and another twenty-four hours that might mean I've gotten it wrong all over again. Rewards are in the form of tight hugs and sleepy kisses and late night whispers of "I love you" that come after the day is done and the tempers lashed and the mess ups just keep piling up.
But they are sweet when they come.
I took Madelynne and four friends camping for her birthday. We hiked the gear in, pitched a tent (Joshua helped), and spent nearly twenty-four glorious hours in the woods with perfect fall weather. Except for the brief 11 p.m. rainstorm that wasn't on radar so we hadn't put up the rain fly over the tent.
Yeah, ten years of motherhood and endless rainy camp outs and I'm still not getting it right. But she told me I was the coolest/bravest mom ever.
Maybe that's true. Maybe it's just true that I'm the craziest mom ever. I do know this. In ten years of motherhood, what I haven't learned often seems to far surpass what I have.
I jotted down this list the morning of her birthday when her daddy made homemade cinnamon rolls and I wrote in her Letters with Mama book and tried not to have a panic attack.
10 Things I Haven't Learned in Ten Years of Motherhood
I haven't learned how to keep my temper.
I haven't learned how to keep their rooms clean.
I haven't learned how to say no.
Actually, I can say this to my kids. Just not to everyone else.
I haven't learned to remember a diaper stash for the car.
I haven't learned how to cease amazement with each child at each new development.
I haven't learned how to make time stand still so I can savor the moment.
I haven't learned how to know my capacity.
I haven't learned how to give each of them enough of me.
I haven't learned how to keep my insecurities from influencing theirs.
I haven't learned how to believe I'm doing a good job.
The only lesson I've really learned in ten years of motherhood is grace. Pile upon pile of grace heaped up after the hard days, the bad days, the I'm-unfit-for-motherhood days. The saving grace of motherhood is that each day is a new day. A new day with no mistakes in it.
So in ten years, that's it. That's all I've got that I know is true everyday. The other is what I'm still learning, still trying, still hoping.
But on Sunday afternoon, do you know what I whispered to the mom with two close in toddling age who run her ragged and stretch her limits?
It gets easier.
And it does. So maybe I've learned quite a bit in ten years after all.