I used to know the kind of mom I wanted to be.
- I used to want to be the kind of mom who always had homemade cookies for after school snack.
- The kind of mom who never yelled at her kids.
- The kind of mom whose kids never pitched a fit in public.
- The kind of mom whose children were smart, polite, and funny and whose behavior defined the kind of mom I was.
I think by now you can see that these “Kind of Mom I Want to Be” dreams were all before my twin girls rushed into my life in 2009.
I wanted my children’ts behavior and accomplishments to define me and give me meaning. And that’s not fair to them or fair to me. They are much more than walking trophies reflecting my value. They are valuable just because they exist. And I am much more than the sum of who they are becoming. I, too, have inherent value.
Mama, would you link arms with me and vow to be the kind of of mama who is kind?
- The kind of mama who kindly makes cookies when she can and says yes when the time is right.
- The kind of mama who kindly forgives herself for yelling.
- The kind of mama who kindly has patience with her little people growing into the best versions of themselves.
- The kind of mama who kindly reminds herself that her children’s behavior doesn’t define her.
The kind of mama who is kind to other mamas and sees them as real vulnerable people who are not defined by their children’s behavior or accomplishments. The kind of mama who invests in other mamas and reminds her mama friends that they have inherent value.
I’m not sure that I will ever quite be the kind of mama that I dreamed I would be. And that’s okay.
But I am becoming a kinder mama who whispers to that mama whose child is pitching a fit in Target: “Hang in there, mama. You’re doing the right thing for your child. I’m proud of you.”
Join me in being kind encouragers of one another?
My girls turn 5 today. I’m breathless with the weight of their childhood passing so fast despite the days (and nights) sometimes seeming to be so slow.
I don’t have a lot of words about these sweet girls… but I do have a ton of photos. So let me tell you a little about each girl and then let the images speak.
My serious daughter. Love snuggles and affirmation. Introverted. Hilarious with her five year old logic. (“It’s okay, mama. We have to grow up. But when we do we’ll have babies and we’ll give you some to keep.”) Slowest eater on the planet. Perfectionist. Fearless on the bars at gymnastics. Daydreamer. Wants to know how the world works. Drinks life down with so much joy.
Vibrant. Serious leadership skills (“Mama, I just want to teach them how to play a new game, but they just won’t listen.”). Emotional. Dancer. Strong willed. Fierce hug giver. Learned to knit at 4 years old. Easy smile. Has never met a stranger and invites folks at the grocery store to her birthday party all the time. Compassionate: both of her siblings run to her for snuggles if they can’t find me.
Our Photo Session
The girls and I spent a morning at Taylors Mill, Due South Coffee, and Lake Robinson to capture them as they are right now. Then we finished with pizza with daddy. It was a very special day.
They’re all asleep in the back seat. I wonder what they’re dreaming.
My Aeralind: quiet and determined to try.
My Bronwyn: growing into a strong leader.
My Sedryn: an engineering problem solver.
What will the Lord call these three little ones to pursue with Him?
More importantly, how can I prepare these little ones to pursue Him and the dreams He has for them? While in pursuit of my own dreams, am I taking the time to encourage theirs?
I’m not the best at this, I know, and I imagine I’m not the only dreamer who struggles to lead her own children. So I’m going to compile a list of habits we can practice to encourage our children to pursue His dreams for their lives.
I know the mess.
Whether you’re potty training the strong willed two year old. Or helping the 3 year old measure cookie ingredients. Or letting the 4 year old sweep the kitchen. Or showing that 5 year old how to run a tube of jersey under the sewing machine to make a skirt for a doll. Or teaching that elementary school child how to read. Or that reckless teenager how to drive and respect authority.
It’s a mess. You could do it yourself so much quicker.
You could sound out that word for them and save half an hour. You could get it all into the dustpan all at once rather than sweeping up after a half finished job. You drive to the store on autopilot while listening to an audio book rather than stomping imaginary brakes in the passenger seat.
Don’t give up.
You may have never set out to be a teacher, but motherhood made you one. And the more of these skills you spend time teaching, the more prepared your child will be for the next skill he/she will have to learn. The more reasonable expectations your place on the child to continuously complete and improve the skill you’re teaching, the more prepared they will be for their own journeys.
Life is full of work. Your child needs to learn this and find joy in a well completed job.
You might be learning this joy yourself as you chuck the dirty underwear in the trash can and empty your purse of every wet wipe you have with you. Or as you watch half of the dirt make it into the dust pan for the first time. Or as you see your child sound out the word “read” instead of guessing “rat” for the hundredth time. Or as that teenager manages to break smoothly for the first time.
And at night when you slump exhausted into your pillow, thinking about the pill of fabric scrap from the doll cloths sewing adventure waiting to be cleaned up in the morning. Smile. That very exhaustion is the joy of motherhood. The sign of a job well done.
Smile remembering those proud smiles and their triumphant voices: “I did it, mama!”
Well done, mama. Joy is yours.
(Images in the post taken by Aeralind and Bronwyn while mama tried to slow her racing heart from both little fingers too close to the needle and my livelihood in a 4 year old’s hands.)
Dear Weary Mom,
You’re making the 2058th peanut butter (or almond or soynut or sunbutter) and jelly sandwich and wondering if anything you do matters at all.
Everyday everything you do seems undone or consumed like the sandwich there on the counter.
There’s still food on the floor under the table despite sweeping. There’s still a Lego or two threatening tender feet. There’s still the crock pot to clean and refill before heading into work the next morning. There’s still the pile of clothing overflowing the basket: whether it’s dirty or clean.
And, as you ask the little people whether they want their sandwiches cut into triangles or rectangles, you sigh deeply in defeat.
Can I whisper a secret? You really do have value outside of the check marks on your to-do list.
No one else could mother your children the way you do. No one else gives them that special goodnight kiss. No one else says “I’m sorry.” quite the way you do when you fail them again and need to apologize. No one else knows which child likes those sandwich triangles better than the rectangles.
The bulk of your work is invisible because you’re leaving indelible marks on tiny hearts.
So ignore the mess on the floor. Ignore the unchecked boxes on your to-do list. Neither of these things give you value.
Hold your head high when someone asks you “So what did you do today?” and tell them the truth.
“I shaped the next generation with my service, my actions, and my love.”
Because you did.