Happy Mother’s Day to all you mommies out there, both the new and the old, and all of us somewhere in the middle! I hope your day is filled with special moments that remind you of why being a mom is such an incredible gift. Even though, I’ll be the first to admit, not all days feel like a “gift” – being a mother is a tough job, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the process. But God intended motherhood to be marked by joy and beauty rather than defeat and chaos.
Sometimes we fail to recognize the special moments in being a mom because we are so caught up in the daily grind that we lose sight of them. Sometimes we believe the lie that we will always fall short of our lofty expectations of whatever “super mom” we have to live up to in our minds.
I recently read a great book on motherhood – “You’re a Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren’t So Bad Either)” by Jen Singer – and would like to share with you today some of the take-aways that really stuck out for me. Ironically, my oldest daughter found this book on the shelf at the library one day, pulled it out and handed it to me, “Here Mom, you should read this because this is what you are!” Well, what mother could argue with that?
I’m so glad I chose to check it out, because the book is full of really great reminders of why it’s okay to stop beating yourself up as a mom, as well as logical and sound advice for how not to stress yourself out completely. We all could use a few less gray hairs, am I right?
Here are my top 6 take-away mommy tips from Jen’s book: (in no particular order)
- Let your kids be kids. – Back away from over-committal and stop over-scheduling your children in every sport and extra curricular activity under the sun. Ask yourself this, “Is this the full life you’ve always wanted? Or is it just a full schedule?”
- Don’t be willing to sacrifice family time to just “hang” together. – Stop thinking you need to always plan something exciting or expensive to have “fun.” You need those down time moments to connect as a family.
- Don’t get caught up in the Super-Mom epidemic. – Competing with other mothers at who can do things bigger and better is just childish. Learn to appreciate each other, lean into each other and count on one another. The best thing we can do is encourage and support each other along crazy journey called motherhood.
- Stop using your kids as trophies. – While it’s certainly okay to feel proud of your children, it’s not okay to live vicariously through their achievements, vindicating the wrongs and near-misses of your childhood.
- Don’t lose sight of who you are as a person. – Remember life before kids? Mr. Rogers said it and it’s true, “You are more than any one part of you.” While it may seem admirable to put your all into your kids, they will leave you one day, saddling you with nothing to do – unless you have other hobbies and interests, not to mention friends, and self-esteem.
- Keep the techy side of things to a minimum. – In terms of technology, be a little more inaccessible, so you can be more accessible to your kids. That means putting down the cell phone, tablet or laptop when the kids are around. Not checking your Facebook or Twitter status while sitting at the dinner table. Monkey see, monkey do – and they are watching your every move.
If you’re interested in reading more from Jen’s book, I would highly recommend checking it out yourself. It’s chock full of great nuggets of humor and reassurances that despite the fact that motherhood ain’t easy, you are not a complete failure! And believe you me, I know a thing or two about feeling like a failure in this department. My entrance into motherhood didn’t exactly start off on the best foot…
After my husband and I had been married for a couple of years, we were elated to discover we were pregnant with our first child. We were celebrating the start of something so beautiful in our lives. However we don’t always understand the greater plans God has for our lives. And soon our excitement was met with grief. Miscarrying at 10 weeks into my pregnancy was certainly not part of our plan – instead it felt like one big failure. My body had failed me, and my baby was gone.
Although it was not an easy task at the time, I trusted God’s plan and was blessed with another pregnancy several months later. This time we made it past the 12 week threshold and I finally felt as though maybe I could let myself breathe a little easier again. Despite the common pregnancy woes, I cherished every moment of those 9 months.
Then God had another surprise in store for me – to the tune of my baby girl arriving 2.5 weeks early and soon after delivery, being whisked away to monitor her high levels of bilirubin found in her blood that were not resolving on their own. After we were discharged from the hospital and home for one night, we had to return the next day to have her blood tested again, only to find her levels had nearly doubled overnight. She needed to be re-admitted to the hospital and placed under special photo therapy machines that emit light which changes the shape and structure of the bilirubin molecules in such a way that they can be excreted in the urine and stool. My baby was stuck inside a light box 24/7 until her body could stabilize its own blood. Talk about feeling like a failure! Now my baby can’t even survive without all of these machines helping her! Again those thoughts came back,“What kind of mother am I?”
I’m extremely grateful and happy to say that tiny little baby under the glowing incubator lights did eventually wean herself off the therapy machines and our lives started to get back to a somewhat normal pattern of parenting about a month or so later. While she’s almost 9 years old today, she’s still my spunky little baby – who burst onto the scene in all her excitement and anticipation to meet the world.
God continued to bless me – 2 years later with the birth of my second daughter – a full term pregnancy and delivery of a healthy baby girl. Not even a smidgen of jaundice.
And again, a year later, with the birth of my son, who was also very healthy with no complications at all.
Before I knew it, in 4 short years, I had 4 pregnancies, 3 kids, and one heck of an adventure into the land of motherhood. It took some time for me to realize that the circumstances around you do not define what kind of mother you are. It’s the love and care, the time and attention, the prayers and the wisdom that really define it.
The year after my son was born I had a 4-year-old, a 1-year-old and a newborn. I can remember life feeling like just a blur. A lot of times I had to learn to let go of the things that really weren’t all that important and just focus on the things that did matter. This is one of my favorite photos of us from that time. All we were after was one good Christmas card snapshot and we got this!
I loved it. It defined our life at that moment in each and every way. Chaotic, but beautiful. Hilarious, but reality. And I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.
Even now, 4 year later, we still have those moments, as I’m sure most of you do as well. Life never slows down with children; it never gets “easier” or “less complicated” – it simply evolves. A sense of humor comes in handy.
I’m thankful that God made me a mother. Even though there are days when I may feel defeated, I know that these kids were given to me from above and are an enormous blessing in my life.
I’d like to leave you with a challenge. A 30 Day Mom Challenge. Each day gives a tip or piece of encouragement aimed to help us out down this journey called motherhood. It’s ok if you start the challenge now and finish up next month, or if you wait until a day when you feel like you could really use a mommy-pick-me-up. Especially with summer vacation right around the corner, you know we are all going to be needing that soon, right?
The point is we all need to be reminded of what being a mother means to us. Deep down inside that exhausted, weary heart, there is still a love and a desire to challenge ourselves to keep pressing on. Forgive yourself when you mess up. Pray for wisdom. Remember: being a mother is a gift.
Images & PDF source: www.imom.com