The Best Mom

I got an interesting request today. It went something (or exactly) like this: “Would you please write a blog post about how it is possible to still love your child even while not feeding them paleo, organic meals, homeschooling, or rubbing them down with essential oils every day???” And I admit, I laughed out loud a little while sitting in the “waiting room” at the dance studio where I was busily planning my drive-thru dinner and how the heck all the children would be picked up from their various activities. I was pushing back the mom-guilt after reading the post about what time kids should go to bed based on their age and wake-up time, knowing that there was NO WAY we would be in bed before 8:30pm (or 9, but who’s counting?).

The truth is, I have had the worst month EVER in the history of months. Partly because I have teenagers who think they know all when they really know SQUAT and partly because I have littles who act like the teenagers. And partly because life is just hard sometimes.  I get that. Doesn’t mean I am ok with it.

I think at the top of my list of “why this has been a hard month” is that I just feel like a failure as a mom. Because it isn’t rainbows and sunshine at my house as much as it is battles and tears and praying myself to sleep over the children that I just love so stinkin’ much it feels like my heart might break. The teen who doesn’t see the danger surrounding her. The 6 yr old that defies and demands and pushes and pulls until I am completely undone. The grown-up kid who just this month left my nest and is making his own and I just can’t seem to Let. Go. This mama’s heart is battle-worn and weary.

And then I see the posts about the bedtimes and the eating habits and the evil of public schools and the horrors of social media exposure and I just want to crawl under a rock and hide. Do I think that is the intent of the really passionate and dogmatic mom crowd? No. Does it still sting a little? Yes. And I want to scream at the top of my lungs: WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM, PEOPLE.

To that single mom driving through Wendy’s on her way home because you know that you have homework to help with and chores to do- YOU ARE THE BEST MOM.

To that mom working in full time ministry because that is what God has called you to while other people help with your kiddos in the afternoon- YOU ARE THE BEST MOM.

To that homeschool mom ready to pull her hair out but determined to be obedient to what God has asked of her- YOU ARE THE BEST MOM.

To that mom cooking the healthiest food she can afford to help her children function at their very best- YOU ARE THE BEST MOM.

To that stay-at-home mom who really just wants a vacation in Tahiti but will settle for re-runs of The Middle with her hubby on the couch after the kids FINALLY go to sleep- YOU ARE THE BEST MOM.

And to that mom who cries and prays over one who has gone astray, believing that God will redeem and restore that which has been lost- YOU ARE THE BEST MOM.

Girls, we have got to stop thinking that whatever God has called us to, placed us in, or blessed us with is the only way. We have got to make room for each other and cheer for each other. You are the best mom for your kids. That is why God gave them to you instead of someone else. He knew you could do it, with His help. He knew there would be times when you would get to the end of your rope and would cry out to Him, and even that was by design. We desperately need Him, YES. But we also need each other.

Let’s be each other’s cheerleaders. This mom gig is hard. There are good days, yes. But I dare say the hard days come more often than any of us would prefer. So let’s lift each other up- RIGHT WHERE WE ARE.

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In Defense of Mothers. Everywhere.

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.