I always struggle a bit with Mother’s Day, and it is harder, the older I get.
It is not that my kids aren’t sweet, or I feel forgotten. No, they always take good care of me and make me feel special. They give me nice cards full of praise.
And the mom described in those Mother’s Day cards seems like a great lady. I just wish I was more like her.
The older I get, the more I become aware of what I wish I HAD done and how I wish I HAD behaved and responded. With the advantage of hindsight, I know just the words I should have said, the wisdom I should have shared. I look back with wistful regret at times when harsh words reprimanded childishness. I recognize now moments I should have said more, and times I should have said much less.
I wish I had done better.
I wish I had played more games, left more housework undone (or at least have felt less guilty when it was undone), and not fussed over dirty clothes so much.
I wish my weariness would not have seemed like justification for a curt answer or a brush off.
I wish I had listened with a better attempt at rapt attention to the, “Mom, you know what I dreamed last night? I dreamed … (insert dream which could take 5 - 15 minutes to share).” Instead, too often, I gave an absent-minded, “That’s nice honey,” while I continued to make breakfast or fold clothes or attend to whatever task was at hand. I should have looked that child in the eyes and paid attention.
I wish I had breathed in and counted to ten when I felt my blood beginning to boil.
I wish I had never worried what neighbors, or church friends, or family members were going to think about WHATEVER it was I always seemed to be worrying about.
I wish I had read more bedtime stories and listened longer when they wanted to chat about “nothing,”
I wish I had laughed more, smiled more, and worried less.
Motherhood is such an odd profession. It only requires every cell of your brain and beat of your heart. It doesn’t let up for a moment and is not a task you can complete. There is never a performance evaluation or pay raise to let you know you are doing a great job. It seems like being a blind open-heart surgeon.
And just when you get something figured out, your child enters a new stage and you have to learn new things. Plus, previous knowledge from child #1 has limited application to child #2. We had seven children, and while I could repeat principles, I still had to figure out THIS child, each time.
MOTHERHOOD = continual On The Job Training.
I don’t know many Mamas (particularly older ones) who don’t think they could or should have done better. If we didn’t love our kids so much, we wouldn't have tried so hard or look at our failures with regret. Because with all our trying, we still made and continue to make mistakes. At least, I did (and do)- over and over again.
So to any other Mom who felt slightly uncomfortable as they read their Mother’s Day card, I extend to you a virtual hug. I could actually use one back if you don’t mind. Mama-ing is hard work.
Young Moms- if you feel ill-equipped to meet all the needs, if you feel lost to figure out THAT child, if you fall into bed at night wondering if you’ve done more harm than good, I understand. I wish I could tell you it gets easier. I really wish I could. But I love you too much to give you false hope.
But, what I can tell you is, yes, in this job there is NEVER enough of you. (stick with me, I do have good news.) When you feel broken, remember that time when everyone was hungry on a Galilean hill, and there wasn't ENOUGH food. Jesus took the lunch of one small boy, broke it, thanked the Father, and multiplied it to BE ENOUGH. Jesus is enough. Jesus fills in our gaps. Jesus hugs us late at night. Jesus ministers to our kids’ hearts. Jesus.
I may not be the Mom from those Mother’s Day cards, but I am a mom who offered what she had, even though it wasn’t enough. I’ve been broken, boy have I been broken. And I asked Jesus to multiply my insufficiency into ENOUGH. I prayed He would fill in the gaps and heal my kids’ hearts when I hurt them. And somehow, almost beyond comprehension He has, and continues, to do just that.
So, young moms, if your kids are still at home, learn from my regrets. Leave the dirty dishes or laundry. Go play a game with your blessings. Read them a story. Kick a soccer ball. Turn the music up loud and dance together in the living room. You will never regret it.
And at the end of the day, when you fall exhausted into bed, give Jesus your broken pieces, and every bit of your "not enough," and let Him do His work with it.
Oh- and Happy Mother's Day. You really are the best Mom for your kids. I promise. You are wonderful.