might·y: possessing great and impressive power or strength

tow·er: a place of defense; a protection

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day Reinvented

Mother’s Day. Some people love it, some people hate it. Some pretend like it’s any other day. For me, I’ve gone back and forth on my feelings about this day of honor, but I think I’ve finally figured out what it means to me.

I spent so many years thinking that Mother’s Day was supposed to be a day dedicated to me. I thought that for it to be a good Mother’s Day things had to go just right. When, inevitably, my children would fight, or the dishes were piled in the sink, or I would become frustrated at something my husband said I would think, “fail!”

This continued on for a couple of years, me with my high expectations and my family trying their hardest to make it a great day. I finally decided that the best way to have a happy Mother’s Day was to treat it like any other regular day. No expectations means no disappointment, right? Oh, how I was wrong. I went from being frustrated at not getting what I “thought” Mother’s Day was all about to being frustrated when people would wish me a happy Mother’s Day or see other moms and families celebrating in their own way.

Last week I was expressing my thoughts on this holiday to my mother, lamenting that no matter what I do I just can’t seem to get through it without frustration. In her wise motherly way she said, “Try going to church 10 Mother’s Days in a row wanting so badly to be a mom and yet not being blessed with that desire.” As usual my mom knew just what to say, this time, sharing her own experience of trying to become pregnant the first 10 years of her married life.

I too have had and still have friends who, despite their best efforts, are not moms in the traditional sense of the word. I have had conversations with them about how hard it is to attend church and see all the moms with their families and hear the talks about motherhood. Some of my friends choose not to attend church that day at all because it is simply too hard.

In that moment I realized that my idea of what Mother’s Day was all about went completely against what a mother is. Mothers are selfless, giving, loving, and understanding. We work what many would call a thankless job, all hours of the day all days of the week. We don’t get paid in money but rather hugs, kisses, and I love you’s.

Mother’s Day is not about making me happy. It’s not about flowers, or treats, or breakfast in bed. It’s all about how I make them happy. It’s a time for my family to say, “we know you love us so much and work hard to take care of us and we want to say thank you.” It is a day of love.

My mother continued by saying, “So you take those two children who are loud and fighting with each other and you hug them and love them and enjoy your day.” That is what Mother’s Day is all about because that is what being a mother is all about. Being happy and loving each other through the good and the not so good.

I used to think that my perfect Mother’s Day gift would be a day to myself. Maybe a trip to the spa or a day trip to a local city all on my own. While moms definitely need a break and time for themselves, I now have a different perfect Mother’s Day.

This year on Mother’s Day, I’m going to tell the dishes they can wait. This year, I’m going to say no to extra responsibilities. This year, I’m going to keep my phone put away. Because this year, I’m going to celebrate Mother’s Day by being a mother. I’m going to put the housework and email and all that on hold and really embrace what I love about being a mother to my beautiful children.

This year on Mother’s Day I’m going to snuggle with them in the morning. This year, I’m going to read their favorite books to them. This year, I’m going to paint nails with my daughter. This year, I’m going to laugh and sing and play with no distractions, no commitments, just my mother heart. This year I’m going to do those things that fill me as a mother and remind myself that while I am still a person and need to take care of myself, my greatest joy comes from nurturing and loving my children. This year is going to be the best Mother’s Day ever.

Monday, May 5, 2014

4 Simple Words

*This post was written last summer. I just stumbled upon it again and after a beautiful weekend at a Power of Moms retreat I thought it would be a great time to post. 

This past summer has been a long one. As a family we have been dealing with some tough stuff and I have not been as attentive or present for my family as I would have liked. As a result, the mommy guilt has been piled on pretty high.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the perfect mom and who she is. How can I be more aware? How can I be the perfect mom I know they deserve? How can I do it all?

There are so many examples of amazing mothers out there, especially in my circle of friends. I thought of the mom who is an amazing baker, another who can turn out a gorgeous quilt in a day, and another who is training for a marathon. I thought of the mom who embodies the word patience, another who creates fun craft projects to do with her children, and another who serves her family seemingly effortlessly.

As I walked to pick up my son from school I thought, “I just wish I could be like these moms, they have it all together.” I was sure that my family was getting less because I wasn’t doing all of those things (and more) and they were only getting my shortcomings and imperfections.

I saw him at the school gate and gave him a big hug. As we walked home in the beautiful sunshine I carried his backpack and asked all about his day. We laughed and held hands but it was a bit overshadowed by this feeling of not being the perfect mom.

After lunch he ran off to play and I sat at the dining room table a few minutes more. A long list of mothering “to do’s” came to my mind. Maybe I should be doing this thing more or that thing more. Things I had seen other moms do, things I’d seen on Pinterest, etc. Surely I should be able to do it all, right? That is what my children are wanting!

My son called out from the living room, “Mom, how do you spell love?” So I spelled it, not really paying attention. A few moments later I felt a small tap on my shoulder. As I turned around I saw my sweet boy holding up a dry erase board. On it he had written in his best handwriting a message, “I Love My Mom.”

Talk about a moment that stops you in your tracks! Here I had been, stressing all morning about how I was lacking as a mother and adding more stress by making a list of all the ways I’m not living up to my idea of the perfect mom. With tears in my eyes I gave him a hug, told him how impressed I was with his writing, and how much I loved it. Then, realizing he could have written a million different things and curious as to what had prompted this sweet message I asked, “Why did you choose to write this?” His response was like a message from Heaven and spoke to the core of who I am as a mother. He said, “Because I want you to be happy.”

In that moment, with his sweet five year old face beaming at me holding his sign proudly, he was sending me a message and I heard it loud and clear. It finally hit me after all these months of feeling “less than” that I have been the perfect mom for them all along! I am far from a perfect person and am continually working on ways to be a better mom. However, my “perfect mom definition” was way off from the truth.

This summer that I thought was filled with imperfections was seen quite differently by them.  They don’t remember the day I stayed in my pj’s as being lazy, but rather as the fun day we stayed home and played together. They don’t look at my dinner of cheese sandwiches and grapes and see “fail!” but rather a dinner of their favorite foods. When we gather together at the end of the day, put our hands in a pile, and say our family cheer, “Families are forever---Jenkins choose the right!”, they don’t see a mom who is exhausted and worn from a long day. They see a mom who puts them first, who prioritizes her schedule so she is home for this tradition. They see a mom who has worked hard for them all day and who is still giving when she feels like there isn’t much left in the tank.

The next time I’m feeling “less than” as a mother I know I don’t have to look to pinterest, or books, or blogs to find my meaning. I simply have to look at my beautiful family and their love for me and realize, I am more than enough.