Before I became a mom, I never really understood what being a mom meant; because honestly, how can we? We grow up watching our mothers be moms and making it look easy…and I guess we just think it all snaps into place the second we give birth or adopt. But I don’t think that’s how it works. At least, it didn’t for me.
Sure, some of it is natural, but a whole lot more of it is learned; and I wish I had known that from the beginning. I think I would have cried far fewer tears and felt a lot less guilt.
But there is one thing we don’t have to learn as moms, and that is how to love.
I will never forget the time I was playing for a softball team in Chattanooga, TN, when I was 7 or 8 years old. We didn’t have much money at the time since my mom was a single mother & a Christian school teacher who made very little, but she always made sure I was able to take part in extra activities even though I’m not quite sure how she did it.
One particular day, we were playing at a ballpark that required her to pay to enter and watch. Not having the extra money to spare, she dropped me off at the gate; and instead of entering, she sat outside the fence surrounding the outfield watching from a blanket under a tree. I’m sure she never gave it a second thought and probably has long since forgotten, but the memory has stuck with me even after all of these years. She could have easily gone to the car and waited, ran errands, or gone home. But nothing was going to stop her from being there. Nothing was going to keep her from cheering me on; and believe me, she most certainly did that. I could hear her all the way from home plate.
Did she always do everything right? No, she probably did a lot of things wrong. We all do. And I’m sure there were events she had to miss. The point is that when I think back on my childhood, it’s moments like this that I recall. I remember her being there, loving me, cheering me on no matter what the occasion may be. It wasn’t important how much money we had…or didn’t. It didn’t matter that she was doing it all on her own for a while. She did what counted, and those are the things that stand out in my mind.
Pinterest birthdays and all of the things we think make us good moms? They don’t amount to much in the long run.
It’s the hugs. It’s knowing when to swoop in and save the day and when to let them learn how to do it on their own. It’s the long talks, or just listening, dreaming about the future and all it holds. It’s showing up when it really matters…and sometimes even when it really doesn’t. It’s believing in them, loving them even when they mess up.
Because when it comes down to it and they are old enough to be parents themselves, those are the things they will remember. Those are the things that will matter. And we didn’t have to learn how to do them. We just did them because that’s what moms do.
So the next time you want to beat yourself up because you didn’t check all of the boxes, made a mistake, or even forgot…give yourself a break. Then do something that’s unforgettable. Give your kid a hug and tell them you love them. Listen to them talk about something they think is cool, whether you think it is or not. Be there. Engage. Simply, do something together.
We aren’t going to get everything right all the time, and we certainly can’t kill ourselves trying, but as long as we get some of it right most of the time…that is what they will remember.
I know, because I did.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you!!