I homeschooled my first child. It wasn’t long, just for preschool, but that year was such a sweet and fun time. I made lesson plans and prepped materials each night. We started off with rug time and learned days of the week, months and weather. That turned into reading a book about the day’s lesson and then we had a themed snack and craft. We also worked on writing letters and numbers. The rest of our days were spent playing and exploring and just being a kid.
One of our favorite lessons was the butterfly life cycle. He loved it so much we actually spent the whole week on it. We made up a catchy song- egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly. He sang it for weeks. You’ll understand my shock when he came home from school recently, excited to tell me something he learned. The butterfly life cycle. I listened quietly as he shared all the wonderful facts he remembered.
Then I asked him one question.
Do you remember learning this with mommy? As I suspected, he didn’t. Not at all. While it hurt my heart, I also knew it had been a whole year and at his age he’s learning so many new things each day. I like to think he still had some of the knowledge tucked in there. Either way, my mind kept going back to this cycle.
A few days later I had a chance to catch up with a sweet friend. She’s someone I’ve shared my mommy journey with. We were pregnant together and she’s become someone I can talk to about anything as our kids grow up together. The more we talked I could tell she was in the midst of what I call a “mom funk.” The feeling of being perpetually in a world of nothing but diapers and decisions and disasters and defeated feelings. All this while trying to capture and hold on to the sweet moments.
I’ve been there. I’m still there.
It’s part of it.
The butterfly cycle continued to creep into my thoughts as I also thought of all the moms going through each stage in this mom journey. That’s when I decided there’s a mommy life cycle too.
This stage of the cycle is the pregnancy. Some mothers find this stage a shock or a struggle or somewhere in between. Her body goes through months of changes, she has many doctor visits. She worries, anticipates, feels excitement and starts preparation. She will mourn her old body as she bursts with love for the little life changing hers.
For the first-time moms in this stage, doubts can surface. She’ll think, Can I really do this? She will read books and research through the nights. The mother will ultimately discover all moms learn as they go… and it’s beautiful.
This stage is the final few weeks of pregnancy and birth. There will be days the mother will be sure she’ll pop any minute. She’ll consume pints of ice cream and walk with a stagger. She’ll go through emotions of wanting it to be over and also never wanting it to end.
As her little life finally emerges, she will not be able to stop looking at their beautiful face in awe. She will learn to feed, learn to change many diapers and soothe and sway just right. Her body will slowly heal. She will spend days amazed at how much a tiny bundle can eat and grow and change and learn… and it’s beautiful.
This is the part of the cycle the “mom funk” can creep into. The mother is literally surrounded and consumed with all things mommy. She will have growing, energetic, curious little people at her feet all day. Needing, asking, whining, screaming, and loving. She will spend her time making sure they have food, education, rides to school and practices, clean clothes, a clean house, nurturing, disciplining, guiding, and having so much love. There’s not a lot of mom time left over in this stage. There’s just not.
That’s ok, because it’s part of the cycle.
The little offspring will need her right now, but they won’t always. It will be hard to think about that at 6:00 pm when she’s exhausted, still has a days worth of tasks to complete, a hungry family to feed and kids fighting in the next room. It will be a hard time. She’ll be so wrapped up in it, she can forget who she is.
The mother in this stage must know she’s still in there. Even if she’s changed. We all change and evolve through these years… and it’s beautiful.
This is the part of the cycle when the mother’s babies grow wings and start to fly. They’re on their own more. They don’t need her as much, or at all. They’re getting close to leaving home or walking out the door to college.
This is when she will grow wings too. Her wings of triumph and joy. Her wings will be strong, having made it through the hard times and also having the strength to let go. Her wings will be proud and tired and sometimes a little broken. This is when she will figure out who she is again. She’ll break free from the cycle that consumed her and fondly look back with happiness and longing. She’ll miss everything that once made her scream in frustration. She’ll spend much time in reflection and prayer.
She will watch her babies begin their cycle… and it’s beautiful.