We all need it sometimes. We all need to be reminded that what we are doing matters. Sometimes, we just need someone to put a gold star sticker right on our forehead, pat us on the butt and give us that “ ‘Atta girl!” we’ve been waiting to hear all day. Why? Because you are The Mommy.
Sometimes you wonder if the afternoon was lost since you spent it at the grocery store while dragging your kiddos around. Sometimes if you wonder if you should sweep up the Cheerios right now, when you know that tomorrow there will just be more under the high chair. Well, let me tell you. No matter what you decide or how your day goes, you matter. What you do matters.
You have stretch marks. Beautiful, battle scars from carrying those babies for 9 months. Or more. Or less. Or, maybe you’re one of those people we hate that didn’t get stretch marks. Or, maybe you didn’t carry your baby because you adopted – and you’re still every bit as much of a mother as the ones who did. Maybe you had a C-section, a natural delivery or an epidural. Maybe you breastfed until they were 3, not at all, or some where in-between. Maybe you made your own baby food or bought it from the store. Maybe you co-sleep, maybe you cry it out, or maybe you don’t, it doesn’t matter. You’re still The Mommy. You are doing your very best. You know your kids’ personalities, their quirks, and what makes them tick. You know just how to word things to encourage obedience and how to discipline each one according to how they respond best. You know when the cries are real or when they are fake. (If it goes into the second hour, you might want to go check on them!) You’ve been through it all, seen it all, and you know what is best for your children. And they recognize that and trust and love you so much.
You have lost all memories of a full night’s rest. From getting up for feedings, to help the bad dreams go away or to soothe fevers, you don’t make it through the night. You sometimes wake up with a kid – or a few – in your bed in the morning. You get up early to prepare for your day (and to shower) and you stay up late at night finishing projects, sorting out your thoughts, and managing your ever increasing to-do list. You go to bed exhausted and you wake up tired, and yet you continue to do it again, day after day, with a smile on your face, all for the ones you love. And they can see it.
You heal your sick kiddos. You know with a small touch if something is wrong, or sometimes by looking into their eyes. You are the bath giver, the tooth brusher, the owie kisser, the splinter puller, and the band aid applicator. When they are sick, you have no guilt for spending the whole day on the couch giving water, Tylenol and endless cuddles while the dust mocks you. When they are sick, you hurt as much as they do. No matter what the illness, you wish it was you. And they know it.
You don’t always have a clean house… okay, you never have a clean house. You just know where to stash those dirty dishes at the last minute when company comes. At night, you know where to clear the path so you don’t have to dig a Lego out of your foot at 3am. You have come to realize that the messes really don’t matter. Sure, you still see them, but they don’t compare to the “Just a minutes” that you have to give your kids and the look of sadness you receive in return. The mess is much easier to handle.
Sometimes you look at those seemingly sickeningly perfect Moms who appear to have it all together. They look great, their kids are well-behaved, and they volunteer for every committee and succeed at it all. You try to hold yourself to those impossible (and unrealistic) standards. All that does is hurt you. So quit it! And if you are one of those Moms that make us all sick? Well, we know you’re a real person who makes mistakes and sometimes leaves the grocery store without milk. We also know you’re probably exhausted and we also know who you answer to, so save yourself some time.
Some days you throw your hands up in frustration and you want to know how to handle it all. But you do so much more than keep a household going. You worry. You worry about the decisions your kids make, you worry how they behave when you’re not around. You hope no one ever says a mean word to the most precious, innocent child you’ve ever laid eyes on. You pray for them constantly. You don’t ever quit. And that’s worth celebrating.
You take pictures to document everything so that you can keep those moments alive forever. You cry when you put away the clothes that are too small or when you watch their baby videos. You want to savor those precious memories for always. And while your kids see you react this way, at the moment they don’t get it, but someday they will.
Mommyhood is often a thankless job. What you do is just expected of you. Days go by without “thank-yous”. You often hear “Mom, where’s my ___?” and when you tell them, they grab it and run out the door. Your kids (depending on age) don’t know any different than to expect their lunches packed, clean clothes in their closets, the car to always run and dinner on the table. They don’t see your early mornings of packing lunches, your late nights of finishing laundry, you double checking your bank account before going to the store or taking your car in for a tune-up. I never realized how much my Mom did for us or how hard she worked until I was in charge of a household, myself. (You’re a perfect example of selfless love, Mom! I remember eating fast food on paper plates when you were sick.) Sometimes you are told “I don’t like you.”, “This is gross!”, or there’s disobedience or just crabbiness in general. It’s a good thing you know how to pick your battles.
You know? Being The Mommy is interesting. You have a job description and yet, to really succeed, you have to go above and beyond. You have to work 24/7 and you don’t get paid for it. Yet it is more rewarding than anything else you could be doing. It is something that not only is expected of you, but it is something you want to do, something you don’t want to consistently fail at. What else compares to that?
So take it all in. Take in those long hugs and those sweet “I wuv you, Mommas”. Those are your rewards. Enjoy those late night feedings because –believe it or not – they all end too soon. Enjoy those times where they are hurt and reach immediately for you. There will come a day when they get up without you and won’t need that owie kissed.
Remember to keep listening to those stories, even if you have heard it 100 times, or if you don’t understand a word of it. It may not be a particularly interesting one to you, but they are taking the time to tell you about it. So listen up, Momma. Even if you didn’t sleep a wink the night before.
The other night Adelynn was definitely stalling at bedtime. It would have been so easy to be firm, put her in bed and tell her it was time to go to sleep. The end. But she asked her Dad for an extra kiss and to carry her to bed. It was late, but we shared a knowing look that these moments don’t last forever. That was one of our easiest decisions in parenting. Who turns down extra kisses? Not at our house, regardless of what time it is.
Teach them to pray and to love Jesus. Show them how. Teach them that it’s okay to come to you for anything, even when they mess up. Don’t let them fear you, but offer them respect. How else will they learn to respect in return?
It’s a good thing that kids are resilient and will forgive you when you mess up. In my nearly 3 years as a parent, I have messed up and apologized to my child for it – more than once. I have heard her offer the sweet sounds of forgiveness to me. What a blessing!
I would like my daughter to think the world of me, sure. But I don’t want her to hold herself to an impossible standard either. Sure I want her to be proud of me. But I hope she is not proud of me for how many PTO meetings I attend, the fabulous birthday parties I throw, or how many gourmet meals I make for dinner. I hope she is proud of me for the Mother and the person that I am. I hope she aspires to be like me – in that I hope I do enough things right that she knows I did my best. I want to get on her level and say “Hey, I’m human. I make mistakes and I am not the perfect mother or person. God made me imperfect and it’s by His grace that I get through life.”
I hope she grows up and says “My Mom always listens to me. She’s always listened to me. She makes time for me, and she always has. She is nowhere near perfect and she has always admitted it. I hope I love my kids, my family and God with every ounce of my being. I hope I am a Mom like her. I hope I am a person like her. I want to pray for my kids every day, just like my Mom and my Grammy do. I want to strive to do my best, even when no one is watching. I hope I can laugh like she did when she simultaneously set off all the smoke detectors on the main floor, three times in a row.”
Succeed at it, Mommy. Teach them everything you want them to know. What would stop you? Show them who you want them to be. Give them all the love you can and they will give it right back. Make your shoulders available always. When they are grown and want to cry, they will know that shoulder is still as good as ever. Teach them how to make it themselves, but let them know that you will always make them their favorite soup when they are sick. Give them a lifetime of listening ears, and when they are old enough to choose who they tell their stories to, they will choose you.
So keep up the good work, Momma. You are doing just fine. You are The Mommy. You know Who you answer to and you know who your little audience is. You are doing your best and that’s truly all that matters.