It’s Mother’s Day.
I’ve done a lot of hard things in my life, but I think I can say with complete confidence that the hardest of them all has been being “Mom.”
When I was young, I dreamed of being THAT Mom. You know the one–with perfect hair and make-up, adorable children who are impeccably dressed, and the sparkling clean home (and SUV) that looks as if no one ever enters them. I had big plans for my kids. They were all going to be amazing musicians, valedictorians, and change the world with their incredible talents. They would be ballerinas, actors, book writers, race car drivers…in my dreams, the sky was the limit! And they would owe it all to their perfect mother!
Well, that never happened.
I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but we’re not there yet.
And what I’ve come to understand is that those were my dreams, not theirs. I was trying really hard to be THAT Mom and give them everything I had always wanted–everything I dreamed of for them.
But I forgot to consider their dreams.
That realization didn’t dawn until my children were grown. I spent most of their younger years trying to control them so they could have the lives I wanted for them…
I wish I could go back and do those years with a little more joy, a little more love, and little less OCD!
In 2001, Linda Eyre published a book entitled “A Joyful Mother of Children.” It was a big hit. Everyone who read it loved it!
I hated it.
That’s not entirely true. I hated the title so much that I couldn’t ever bring myself to read it.
The book is probably really good, but my experience at the time of its publication was anything but joyful. It kind of ticked me off that someone else loved this thing called motherhood so much that they could write an entire book on it.
At the time, I always felt like I was a step behind my young and rambunctious children. I spent my days trying to catch up.
Dishes were piled high in the sink.
A constant trail of crumbs needed vacuuming.
Laundry always seemed to be waiting.
No matter how much time I put into housework, at the end of the day, toys were still scattered throughout the house, sticky spots awaited cleaning off the kitchen tile, and toothpaste spattered the bathroom mirrors.
Our home always looked lived in, no matter how much time and effort I spent trying to make it perfect. It was frustrating to never get to see the fruits of my labors.
I wasn’t patient, either.
I yelled–a lot.
Sometimes it seemed like the only effective way to get the attention of my children.
Other times, my children got caught in the crossfire of my frustration.
In those days, depression was also my constant companion. It was often all I could do to roll out of bed, feed the kids some graham crackers and milk for breakfast, then collapse on the couch and allow chaos to reign. We would watch hours of TV, interrupted only by the reading of picture books when one of them would climb onto the couch with me and insist that I engage.
I felt most guilty on those days.
But guess what…we all survived!
Not only that, but my children have grown up to be pretty awesome adults. And when I think of all the years I spent feeling like a failure because I wasn’t living up to that perfect mom image, I wish I could go back and do it all again. Not because I want to change who they are, but because I’d want to do it all with a better attitude–because today I realize that we were pretty normal.
THAT Mom with the perfect hair and make-up, perfect house, perfect SUV, perfect kids and perfect attitude–the one I dreamed of being in my youth–doesn’t actually exist.
What I’ve learned is that some of us are better at keeping up THAT Mom image for the outside world. But behind closed doors, we all struggle with the challenges and heartaches that come with the title of “Mom.”
Through the years, I’ve paid attention to the mothers around me and tried to learn from the mothering skills of other women. Sometimes, I’ve questioned their methods. Sometimes, I’ve envied their resources. Sometimes, I’ve prayed for their children. Sometimes, I’ve followed their examples.
Always, I’ve admired them for being willing to bring children into this chaotic world we live in–and for doing their best, every single day.
Just yesterday, I was talking to my oldest daughter. She was expressing how difficult it is to raise kids and wondering why she can’t seem to get anything done except take care of her one and three-year-old.
I had to chuckle because I remember that feeling. But I survived–and I’m certain she’ll do just fine!
The older I get, the more I’ve come to realize that all of us who have the privilege of being called “Mom,” have one thing in common: each one of us is the best mother for our individual children.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t struggles. It doesn’t mean we do everything exactly right.
But I firmly believe that I am the mother who could best address the needs of my children. I could be patient when it was important, lenient when necessary, and loving no matter what. I could teach the things they needed to learn, and give the things they needed to receive.
In a sense, I guess I am THAT mom…for my children, at least! And you are for yours, too!
So be kind to yourself.
If you are a mom that yells (a lot!), or a mom that can’t seem to get on top of the housework, or a mom that deals with depression, or a mom that just doesn’t feel like she measures up, take heart! You are in good company!
I don’t know a single mom who feels like she has this motherhood thing all figured out. Just continue to do your best and remember that your love is more important than anything else you can give.
Mom and Me
The woman in the middle of that picture is my mom. She would tell you that she’s far from perfect, but I disagree.
She was the perfect mother for me!
She did her best to raise my siblings and me under incredibly difficult circumstances. She wasn’t always nice–as a matter of fact, she yelled a lot, too. Sometimes she did things that were a little unconventional and would probably be frowned upon today. But I survived and I know she loves me and would do anything for me, even today.
Just knowing that there is someone in this world who feels the same way about me that I feel about my kids, has made all the difference in my life! She is THAT Mom.
On this Mother’s Day, I hope that all mothers will recognize the infinite worth they have in the eyes of their children. There is no job more difficult, but no job with more power and influence than that of being Mom.