Have you thought much about real life motherhood? It’s a tough gig, especially if you have a job, home and family. There are a lot of women in my extended family, and motherhood is a subject of discussion when we chat. Of we eight kids, six of us check the “female” gender box. My two brothers are on their own when it comes to the world of guy stuff, just as my beloved husband was before all of our older daughters became part of a couple. Now there are as many boys as girls around the family dinner table when we’re all home together. But being a mom is a full time job requiring patience, skill and more endurance than you knew you had.
On Being a Mom
Being a mother isn’t an easy job. I’ve fretted over it a lot in my lifetime. While you understand loving your spouse, loving a child is an entirely different thing. Outside of my commitment to Christ, the maternal love I share with my children is the most influential feeling that predominates how and what I think, and in this I am not alone. I understand why we celebrate Mom’s all over the world.
This mother’s day will be like a story book for me. I foresee a lazy morning, one where I’ll start with breakfast in bed made by two little 7 year old hands, over buttered toast and her favorite yogurt. I’m sure that she’ll be all smiles, and I will want to remember that beautiful mess for the rest of my days. We’ll cuddle and laugh, she and I, snuggle with Daddy and be together. Given that the shaking and throwing up is down for the day, I have to run D to the city, because she’s on the return jaunt to North Carolina. Then back home my idea of perfect…a fireplace on a rainy day, a handful of new movies, warm mulled cider, maybe a NASCAR race or BB game if it’s on. Just a day together. If the sky clears we’ll go to the driving range and practice, Bri has a US Open qualifier tourney on Monday. A day of peace…and then freedom. There is nothing for me to do but be a great mom and wife this summer, except decide between the PhD program and the potential of working. This summer is about the back gardens, and my down time being one with God. Time off. Me. Strange concept, but I believe both the medical docs and the theological docs have it right…down time or hospital time. I am clinically exhausted, mentally, emotionally and physically. My soul was so shattered this year that there is little hope of a quick fix.
Mother’s Day. My first one was just a kid of 19, scared and alone. When I think back to the day I took Christian home as a four day old baby to my little rented flat, I wonder that people who are so young and so inexperienced can attempt to raise such a fragile little being. I could barely care for myself. She and I made it through all the mistakes and the craziness to the toddlers and the teenage years, adding a sister and a Dad along the way, and then leaving him behind, too. Off to Indiana on another “mothers day” and life continued. We’ve done college and now weddings…and we’re still in first grade, too. As a second time around Mom (44 with a 7 year old) I cringe to think of some of the decisions that we made with a three and four year old Christian. The girls laugh and say that I’m really well trained to raise Taryn, they being willing guinea pigs.
I wasn’t a great parent at 19 ~ no, I’d never do anything abusive, but like most teens I had a lack of boundaries, didn’t understand schedules and structures, bedtimes, that inability to understand that corn dogs are not appropriate food for children at the dinner table ~ and that McDonald’s is not a food group. Never to fear, they are both healthy, well and beautifully. I learned a few years into my mommy-hood not to let my children dictate the dinner palate and they’re culinary wizards these days….with the exception of the youngest who grew up in one of my restaurants. She prefers med rare steak and baked potato over anything in the world.
My so called life is often a crazy beautiful mess, but it’s not always that way. On this Mother’s Day, there will be thousands of mothers’ who hear nothing from estranged children; children who have no ability to show love to a parent that is incapacitated or passed on. It’s a hard balance of life. So you have a good relationship with your mother? Especially as people age it’s important that the communication between child and parent are exceptional. Do these things in your own way….
- Say that I love you. You don’t have to make a big production of flowers or cards, but you might consider writing a letter that explains how your Mom has shaped parts of your life that you highly value. Although things are not perfect in the world, repeat these words “I love myself, and I love you.”
- Forgive the times that were hard. Children don’t come with instruction manuals, and no matter how much you prepare, they are a live fire exercise. Wow, I loved that little girl when I held her in 1986; I love her just as much today. She’s one of the best decisions that I ever made. I hope that when she looks back at the huge mistakes I’ve made as a parent, she does so with forgiveness. I hope all our children do. I did the best I could, given that I was also trying to find my own way, alone, through the heavy forest. Forgive in love.
- Don’t give a gift out of obligation. Feel what you give from the heart, and be one with the love that you transfer. So many people are just going through the motions, just filling in the spaces because of a mark on the calendar. Don’t just because it….
- Be true to yourself. Talk to yourself honestly about who you are and what you are. Living half a life is still living half a lie. On this day, if you’re the Mom, talk about what you need, communicate and be willing to resonate with your family. I am thinking of the story of a woman with four sons that was physically abused by her husband. She divorced, but lost two of her sons to their father. To reunite her children, she remarried the abusive person again and placed herself in harm’s way. Although her story is admirable, the damage that the father inflicted on the sons ripples throughout their lives today. Their outcomes stretch from prison to “perfect” (which is only in appearance). They’re all still living lives fueled by the fire of one person choosing to abuse, one person choosing to stay. Be true to yourself, what ever that looks like.
- Be Kind to Someone who least expects it. There are so many hurting people in our world, people who need the love and affection of someone that wants to say “you matter.” Find that neighbor who works two jobs and leave something special for them. Deliver flowers to all the coffee baristas that you see on Sunday. Stop and greet the door greeter when you enter a store. Look into peoples eyes. Care that for just a moment, they are there.
I wish you all of the happiness and blessings that God will bring to your life, for overwhelming peace and grace. I’m going to post from the front row of graduation tomorrow, my last moments as an SOT.