This has been an interesting week for me. Justin traveled for work from Sunday to Friday, and this was a week where I needed encouragement in my motherhood more than most. It’s in our times of difficulty that we learn how strong we actually are, but they also show us our need for community and the vulnerability it takes to accept help.
Today’s mom is encouraged to do it all, but without a strong community of support, I’m not sure that it is possible.
This week has been challenging in other areas for me as well. My parents were divorced when I was young and I spent my teenage years without a mom. (More details here My Glass Castle) Thinking about Mother’s Day all week and hearing from such incredible mothers naturally brought me back to thinking about my own mom, who passed when I was seventeen.
One of my words for the year is roots, (see more on that here Revisiting my Roots) and God ever so kindly and gently keeps bringing me back to that place of my beginnings. One morning this week I was out running some errands when I was drawn back to my old neighborhood. I had a few things to do, but they would have to wait as I found myself driving to the place where I could feel my mom the most. Do you have a place like that? A place where as soon as you set foot your heart comes alive and you are filled with precious memories? For me, that is the Metroparks near the house where I grew up. There are so many rich memories there. My mom used to cut off the tops of empty gallon milk jugs but leave the handle and we’d take our jugs and spend hours picking blackberries in the park. Then we’d take them over to my grandma’s house and she’d transform them into freezer jam. Berry picking there is one experience I have chosen to share with each and every one of my kids.
Then there was the time we went on a bike ride as a family right after my sister just learned how to ride a bike. She couldn’t stop at the hill and ended up having to be rushed to the hospital, short a few teeth when all was said and done. I’ll never forget my dad waving down strangers to give us a ride and not knowing what was going to happen to my sister who was covered in blood. Now every time I see this sign I get to relive that memory. It was scary at the time, but there is a strange sense of comfort in being able to travel back through time to that moment like a minute hasn’t passed.
When things in my life get crazy, I can always go to that spot and find respite in reminiscence. I took some time this week to walk the trails and to think about all the good that my mom brought into my life. First of all she gave me life, for which I am eternally grateful. She taught me that there’s really no such thing as a stranger, or if there was, she had never met one! My mom taught me how to celebrate and to make even the most mundane special. Her love of animals was like none other! She could always be found feeding the birds, allowing us to bring any pet we could buy with our own money into the house, and even one time allowing us to have a pet raccoon that was left by his mom in our yard. I want to be more intentional about remembering all these good things that I get to carry on and pass down to my kids. When I see these beautiful qualities coming out in my kids, it gives me fresh eyes to see my mom for who she was at heart and it brings me joy to remember her in that light.
I thought I would share my own answers to my own questions. Let me tell you, they were much easier to ask than answer!
How long have you been a mom? Ten years
How many kids do you have? Five
What is your favorite thing about being a mom?
So. Much. Laughter! My favorite things about being a mom are getting to be with my kids and hearing the funny things they come up with, watching them play together, reading books out loud together, and all the fun adventures we go on.
What has been one of the most difficult things you’ve experienced as a mom?
Probably one of the most difficult things I’ve experienced is when my oldest daughter was diagnosed failure to thrive at 6 months old. Being a new mom, I had no idea what to do or if my baby was going to be OK. After running through the gamut of doctors, naturalists, pediatricians, and chiropractors, we learned that she had a dairy allergy. You never want to go through things like that, but I believe that it caused us to take a good hard look at our health and set us on the journey to being intentional about what we are putting into our bodies.
What is something you’ve learned through being a mom?
As a mom, something important I’ve learned is to never waste a lesson and to choose to learn from every experience. I’ve also learned how important community is when you are a mom. Being a mom can be so isolating, and we need to surround ourselves with people that have had similar experiences and know what we’re going through. Also, added bonus, if your mom friends have kids for your kids to play with, that’s a huge win!
Have you surprised yourself in your motherhood?
Yes! I grew up babysitting, so naturally I thought I’d parent my kids the way I babysat… nope! I think I was surprised at how hard it is to accept help as a mom. I think there’s something in our wiring that views it as failure, but I’m super thankful that I have learned to accept help and it has made me a much better mom!
If you had to repeat one thing in your parenting that your parents did, what would it be?
We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but I didn’t know it. My parents were really amazing at making things really fun and special, as well as making sure that we had everything we needed. My dad took a lot of time to play games with us from dodge ball in the living room, baseball any and every place it could be played, and an all time favorite – the bullet game. The bullet game was when my dad would put the hose on full blast and shoot it at your stomach and you had to see who could endure the pain and walk all the way up to the hose. The thing I want to be intentional about repeating is my kids feeling secure and us creating loads of fun memories together, no matter our circumstances.
What is one encouragement you would love to pass along to a young mom?
No matter your past experience, you get to choose the kind of mom you are going to be. It is good to listen to women that have gone before, but know that you can use what works for you. Mothering looks different in every single home so don’t look around to see if what you are doing is enough – look up to God and know that He has put every single thing inside you that you need to mother your children.
I’d love to hear what encouragement you would love to pass on to a young mom or the best advice you’ve ever received. Let me know below!