Sunday, May 11, 2014

Being Okay on Mother's Day

It's here! 

The radio, Twitter, Facebook and my email inbox are blasting me with messages about one of the most anticipated events of the year - Mother's Day.  It's a day of extremely high expectations - and if dads and kids and even the pastor preaching a sermon at church don't deliver - moms will be disappointed and feel under-appreciated. 

On a positive note, I've seen many beautiful tributes filling up the Facebook newsfeed and pictures of moms of every kind - young moms with babies, mothers with grown sons and scanned old photographs of mothers from decades ago.

Some of us have fond memories of our mothers, and for some Mother's Day is etched with sorrow and grief.

Some mothers delightfully look forward to a day of pampering, adoration and  acknowledgement, and others feel guilt, anxiety, disappointment  and emptiness.

I've been a Mom for nearly 15 years now.  I have six kids.  I guess you could say that I'm kind of qualified to speak about being a mom.

Being a mom is nothing like I imagined.  Being a mom has a lot more mundane than I expected; scattered with high times and low times.

I thought when my first baby was placed in my arms, that I'd be magically equipped with all the patience, wisdom and virtue that I needed to deal with a willful, uncooperative yet beautiful little person.  I thought I'd be full to the brim with ooey gooey mushy infatuation that would power me through every long, sleepless night.  I was supposed to be such a good mother that even when my kids got older, we would be harmonious and happy - instead, I often feel challenged and I doubt myself.

I never thought I'd actually get to the end of myself and secretly lament: "I wish I wasn't doing this.  What was I thinking?"  But, sometimes those feelings come.   So after a good cry, some chocolate, time on my knees and maybe a hug from someone who is not utterly dependent upon me for EVERY. LITTLE. THING.,  I find some new inner strength, and I plunge back into my role with perseverance.

So as this Mother's Day approached, I have been mindful of the fears and trials and the lessons I've learned (and I am still learning) as I continue my life-long career as a mother.  I hope I'm not the only one who approaches Mother's Day with some hesitation.

Mother's Day might be all about gratitude and adoration - but I need so much more than a "Thank You" card and breakfast in bed.  (A day in the mountains, followed by a candle-light dinner with steak and wine might be sufficient, though!)

So here it is - the simple and perhaps obvious fact that reassures me as a mother:

Kids are resilient.  Even when you mess up, even when life is crazy and you can't provide the "perfect" environment, kids are remarkably capable of defying the odds and coming out on top.  I have a friend who told me a story about her childhood.  She said that at one point, her family went camping for around 3 months - imagine that!  They spent the entire summer cooking, eating, playing and living outdoors!  She said that as a child, she thought it was awesome.  However, as an adult, reflecting upon this memory, she realized that something was a little weird about her family camping for such a long time.  She asked her parents and they told her that it was because they were literally homeless - Dad had lost his job, and they had nowhere else to go - so they just camped for a while until they could get back on their feet.

I think we put an awful lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect moms, with perfect homes, and we try to juggle so many things, attempting to be the glue that holds it all together and keeps our children's world defect-free.  The truth is - our kids will be ok.  They don't need everything to be utopian all the time.

So those blurry months when I had morning sickness and felt like I barely had enough energy to change diapers - let alone cook a somewhat wholesome meal for my other kids and the TV pretty much babysat them?  It's ok... it all turned out.

And the months of transition that we've experienced with my husband changing jobs (twice) and moving from city to city and house to house - so that homeschooling became incredibly inconsistent and only happened if I could actually find our books...?   I think we're going to recover from that too.  Thank God kids are resilient.

Sometimes life throws us a curve ball, and sometimes we just screw up as a mom.  I don't need to stop making mistakes - I just can't get stuck. Our kids need us to forgive ourselves, and move on.   I think God has a special grace for me as a mom, because DESPITE my many failings, my kids keep on loving me.   

Unfortunately, Mother's Day can be a time that highlights inadequacy for some of us.  It's easy to think of all the accomplishments of a mother and praise her for them, but it's equally easy for those accomplishments to feel like weighty expectations, heavy with immense responsibility.

I'm not bashing the celebration of Mothers - I'm not bashing Mother's Day cards and Mother's Day sermons - BUT...  I think a lot of moms need reassurance more than anything.  Because you can celebrate us today - even give us the day off, but we have to go right back to reality tomorrow.  We need to know that we're doing ok.  We need you to know that we don't feel perfect and motherhood is really hard and sometimes we don't even feel like doing it anymore - but it's not exactly the kind of job where you can hand in a resignation (believe me, I could try, but the kids would wail and scream and eventually bang down my bedroom door.)

So I encourage you today.  If you are an imperfect mom and you worry about being enough, doing enough or even surviving motherhood - you're gonna be ok.  Your kids are going to be okay.  The good news is that you don't have to be a super-mom to raise good kids.  Kids are resilient and forgiving.  I remind myself this daily.

Happy Encouraging Mother's Day!

How to encourage a mom on Mother's Day:
To put it simply - I think that on Mother's Day, Moms need mothering.  We need to be taken care of, believed in, reassured and... okay... maybe a little bit of chocolate or flowers or a massage would help, too.

1 comment:

mzdjo said...

So well put Lisa. Thank you from me and I am sure, many mothers.
We cannot do this all on our own, but we sure like to try!
Children and being a Mom is the best most of the time, but it sure isn't always easy......