Whether you are a parent or not, you likely have wonderful little children in your life. On a regular basis, you see darling photos of these little ones in your emails, Instagram feeds and Facebook pages.
Outwardly, it may appear as though the “worth it” moments of motherhood (or parenthood in general) are a collection of these often picturesque scenes (like the one above on the left).
However, worth it moments are found in the full spectrum of motherhood. That is, not only the moments we share more openly or publicly, but also the tough and trying moments we speak of in more intimate settings and rarely capture in photographs (like the one above on the right). They are all worth it moments.
The photos featured above were taken during a recent photoshoot for Pikku. While my eldest son was too old to be featured in the shoot with the other younger children, he was excited and our photographer captured this genuine moment of spontaneous glee when I ran across the yard with him on my shoulders. In the second photograph, he was truly upset. It had been a long day and he wanted to disrupt the shoot because he didn’t feel a part of it and felt I hadn’t given him enough of my own time. I stopped to give him what he really needed. Moments like these happen every day, but rarely is there a photographer to capture them.
Certainly, our little ones are delightful, surprising, adventurous, and oh-so-clever. We like to remind ourselves about the amazing little feats they accomplish daily and how endearing their giggles are. We delight in their discoveries of themselves and the world around them.
At birth, they can’t even hold up their own head, but by the end of the first year they are feeding themselves, on the move, and soon beginning to express and exert their own personalities and willfulness. These stages and rites of passage continue throughout their life and yours as a parent.
These highlights are often accompanied by challenges. In the early years of parenthood, it may be the relentless sleep deprivation, the isolation and lack of practical support, or the lack of confidence while you adapt and build your parenting skills and toolkit. Later, it is the independence of your child that is at once your goal and reward, but is so hard to accept. Beyond that, it is the challenge of having a piece of your heart distant, waiting for it to call or visit.
Being a part of this process is humbling and challenging, but equally a phenomenal privilege. Like all meaningful pursuits, you are bound to struggle, the unexpected will come and sacrifices will be made. But, in this journey, you are compelled to be a better and more resilient version of yourself — to be more patient, understanding, selfless, adaptable and creative, and to develop some mad problem-solving and negotiation skills
Sometimes, it may feel like you can never be enough of these things. You may feel ashamed when you think, “How tough is this!?” knowing others have even more trying and limiting circumstances; or feel guilt when you really would rather do something for yourself or nourish a part of you that isn’t about your children.
At the beginning of my own journey as a mother, I felt like I was constantly riding a wave of challenging moments to see those more delightful worth it moments, no matter how simple they appeared. Now, I openly embrace both.
While I still relish in the delightful moments I love to recall, tell stories about or capture in photos or videos to share, I might very well be closest to my sons when they struggle or are in turmoil. It is an important way in which deep bonds of love, trust and understanding are built. Preserving through times of struggles leads to growth and accomplishment for my children, myself and our family. In this way, I’ve come to appreciate these challenges and value them as worth it moments too. We survive, overcome and thrive.
Although, at times, my sons present me with some fantastic challenges and expose the weakest points in my character, they are easily my greatest joys and I find myself so grateful for them. I use the word “joy” because it can encompass so much; not only the highs and lows, but also hints at a meaningful process. It is almost as if joy is earned — a reward for going through and overcoming struggles both big and small.
Based on my own experiences and those of the many mothers I converse with, I wanted to acknowledge and honor all the worth it moments — both the private struggles and the public-facing victories of motherhood.
We need to share the more cheerful worth it because they remind us why we do it and can keep us going in the more demanding times. However, I want to value everything unseen or unspoken behind those more trying moments. We probably wouldn’t have those relishing victories without them.
This is why I have posted two photos: a blissful moment and a trying moment. Both are important, both are worth it, and both are part of being a mother.