In honor of Mother's Day tomorrow, I thought a Mama post would be appropriate. Mothering is not just being able to give birth to children, it is a mindset and a state of being. Some of the best mothers I know have not yet given birth to their own children, but they are far outdoing many women in terms of caregiving and childrearing. Now, let me state the obvious in that no Mom is perfect. There will be fights, there will be yelling and tears and bad decisions. There will be mistakes made, because we're human beings and it's what we do, even when we try not to. Yet despite all of that, we mother on. This post is dedicated to all my Mamas, all those women who selflessly and lovingly take care of others, be it children or adults. Your mommy hearts are precious and your efforts do not go unseen, bless you for everything that you do. You are an inspiration to me daily.
I want to talk to a few of the Mamas in particular, from whom I draw hope and courage.
When I get impatient and frustrated with my kids, I like to think WWAMD? (what would Aunt M do?) M is my older sister, who has not birthed children of her own yet, but she's totally a Mama because she gets it. She not only has the basics down like a pro (diaper-changing, not letting the toddler lick the dog, etc) but she gets kids. Their mindset, their creativeness, their need for attention and love, she just gets it and knows how to tap into that and let their little minds and bodies be children. But she also has a ton of patience and is very firm when she needs to be, without the usual hesitancy of "this isn't my kid, am I allowed to say no?" If they're doing something they shouldn't, she lays down the law. So when I get impatient and frustrated, I count to 10 and chant to myself "How would Aunt M handle this?" and then I try to do that. It has saved me from many a blow-up. Thank you, big sister, for being the best sister and momma a girl could ever ask for.
My cousin N is an amazing woman, and you can read all about her story here. Seriously, go do it. Her openness and vulnerability regarding her struggles with infertility will blow you away. She's a fantastic writer, a great photographer, and the most adorable farmer's wife you'll ever meet. She's also one of my favorite cousins. (Am I allowed to say that? It's only kids you're not supposed to have a favorite with, right?) I can't find the post in which she wrote this, but in one of her posts she wrote about wishing things hadn't happened a certain way, or that she could go back and change circumstances. But then God started to change her heart, and show her that while the circumstances were not the most ideal or happy, they helped make her into the woman that she is today.That post made a big impression on me because I was always the type of person that would fixate on that one unfortunate occurrence in which, if I could only go back in time and reverse it, everything would be perfect. But the longer I live and the more painful and hurtful experiences I go through, the more I realize that yes, it hurts and that's not pleasant, but the hurt is part of what makes us who we are. For better or for worse, everything you go through moulds you and it's up to you to make that moulding an experience for the better. Thank you, N, for having the courage to face your struggles in an open format where other women can empathize and relate. I love your Momma heart, and I love you.
My mother-in-law and I are pretty much as opposite as it gets. I'm a people person, she prefers a quiet evening at home. She loves the calm neutrals of earth tones, I like bold colors and glitter. Lots of glitter. But even in those differences, we have so much in common and we often find ourselves speaking the same thoughts on a matter. B has taught me not to sweat the small stuff. She is so calm with our kids, even when they're dumping applesauce on the floor and leaving toys on the stairs. I don't know how she does it, but it's like it doesn't even occur to her to become stressed about that stuff. She's like a calm little duck in a hurricane, the water rolls right off her back while she waits for the storm to pass. If my aunt M method doesn't work, I go to Plan B (see what I did there?) It won't matter in one year or one week if there are toys everywhere or applesauce on the floor, what will matter is how I treated my children. I'm so happy that I get along so well with my MIL, and I cherish every lesson she teaches me (intentional or not).
J is my Momma. The woman who gave birth to me and the original tree from whom this apple does not fall far. My mom had 3 children in 4 years, and I was the youngest (but only until my little brother came along when I was 10). She used to do motherly type things like lick her finger and wipe a smudge off my face, or eat a sandwich made from the bread loaf butts because no one else wanted to eat those pieces. When I was little, I despised those things and swore I would never do them to my children. But guess what? I do them! And it's because they work. I no longer care about crusts, or drinking out of the "ugly" cup, although I do usually use a washcloth on their faces because it works better. When you're a momma, you do what you have to do. Mom taught me that you do the best you can and then let the rest go. Some of my favorite memories from growing up are the little things that took small effort on her part but made us feel so special. Pancake batter dribbled in a letter shape (usually our first initial), a birthday card cut in half on our half-birthday (the date 6 months after your real birthday), getting to choose the meal on our actual birthday, etc. I count it an honor to pass those traditions on to my kids. Thank you, Mom, for teaching me how to be a momma and how to still be myself. For teaching me to kiss the boo-boos, enjoy storytime, make meals fun, and make grocery shopping an adventure. Thank you for being my mom, for bringing me into this world and for loving me, even through the constant talking and demands for attention. I'm paying it back now in the form of my own Mini-me, but thanks to you, I know just what to do with her. I love you, Momma.