I love going to the pool with my kids. They love it too. It is one of the few things we do that everyone looks forward to (except the occasional bored teenager, but they don’t look forward to anything). I know what you are thinking. “Oh, how sweet. Family fun in the sun.” You are probably picturing me in my mom bathing-suit, happily splashing around in the water with my kids, praising their efforts jumping in without their floaties, and remembering to reapply sunscreen at every rest break. Some of that happens, sometimes… But mostly, if you were watching us, you’d see my kids having a ball under the watchful eye of the teenage lifeguard, while I sit in a lounge chair next to my mommy friends talking about whatever. Occasionally you might see one of us yell at one of the kids to stop splashing his sister, or stop running, or no, you cannot have another popsicle. But mostly we use the pool the same way we use television. To give us a mother-lovin’ break.
Sometimes the mommy conversation goes pretty deep. Sometimes it is as shallow as the junior pool. I enjoy both types. But my favorite conversations are the honest ones. The gritty ones. The ones where we just say how we are feeling about life and kids and marriage without fear of being over-analyzed. Because let’s face it, being a mom is wonderful and it is the biggest thing in our lives. But it is also exhausting and the hardest thing we will ever do. And nobody understands that like another mother.
Here is where I get to the defense part. I am old enough, and have been doing this mom thing long enough to be pretty secure in who I am as a mom, and as a woman. I don’t much care if someone doesn’t like it when I yank my 5 yr old out of the pool by her arm because she has pushed me past my limit of patience. I am just doing my job, my way. I don’t mind sharing openly when I am frustrated or tired or just losing my mind in general. But that is the benefit of YEARS of being a mom. I haven’t always been so secure. You have to have a pretty thick skin to survive being female in this world where everyone is free to publicly share their opinions about anything you dare to openly admit. Like being frustrated with your precious blessings. Like wanting to run away from the people who depend on you. Like wanting 10 minutes to yourself to eat some chocolate (without sharing) and regroup. Here are some things we need to remember:
1. Moms adore their children. They make sacrifices all day everyday to give them what they need. Whether they are at home full-time or working full-time they do whatever is necessary (and usually lots more) to meet the needs of their families. Give moms permission to be GIVE-OUT.
2. Even precious children whom we love with our whole hearts can get on our last nerve and be painfully annoying. Give moms permission to be tired of their kids sometimes.
3. Moms know that they will “miss these days” when their kids are all grown up. They know. They don’t need to be told that when their 2 yr old has just flushed their $500 smartphone down the toilet. It isn’t helpful. Really.
4. Moms have bad days. Usually because kids have bad days. Give moms the benefit of the doubt BEFORE you give them the condescending look of judgement. Or worse, before you criticize them openly on social media. (Not that anyone ever does that.)
5. Moms are almost always trying their very best. Some days are better than others. Give moms the freedom to do their job. Their way. Even if it is different than your way. If you must speak into a situation, speak encouragement. Speak kindness. Speak life.
6. Moms find ways to cope with the all-consuming demands placed on them every day. They might choose things that you wouldn’t. Just because you wouldn’t spend 2 hours at the gym everyday does not make it “obsessive”. Just because you would never have a glass of wine in the bathtub does not make it “sinful”. Just because you don’t take naps every afternoon does not make it “lazy”. Give moms permission to SURVIVE.
7. Moms do a lot of really awesome things that no one ever sees, and that they would not even think of posting on Facebook. That is the very nature of this job. Moms pour love, encouragement, nourishment, knowledge, faith and energy into these little people for hours on end. Every. Single. Day. And sometimes night. Remember when you see that mommy lose her cool with her 3 yr old at the pool, that there have been countless good things that you did not see.
8. Moms don’t get a lot of appreciation. We get like one day a year. Tell a mom she is doing great. Tell her that especially on the bad days.
If I were a songwriter I would write some sort of Mom Anthem and we would all hold up our cell phones and glow together. But I don’t have that kind of time tonight… Because one of my blessings is yelling for me to come sing her a song. Which will turn into three songs. And I need to save my songs for her.
Rock on, moms. You are doing a mother-lovin’ good job.