I remember years ago, when a friend was talking to me about her children and asking for advice on how to handle a situation – she made a profound comment, “Some mothers are ‘Mommy Mommys’ and some are not.” She was not – and she knew it. She knew that she would have to work a little harder because being a good Mommy was not going to be a fun natural happening. I admired that about her.
When my friend made that statement, I knew instantly that I was a “Mommy Mommy.” I loved everything about being a mom! I loved being a mommy so much I didn’t care what others thought about me staying at home and raising my children when it was against the norm. I didn’t care that I gave up a great career and sense of approval from my peers and others for a general condescending attitude people would have for me when I met them and they asked me what I did. I was challenged by the newfound poverty we found ourselves in rather than discouraged after a life of comfort from an abounding career. It was a decision my husband and I both willingly made. We knew what we were doing.
And when we decided to homeschool. Oh boy! We heard about that. Over and over and over. We sustained even more critiques, disapproval and other’s opinions throughout the eleven years we homeschooled. But that was okay. We believed our children were worth it. The bigger the investment, the bigger the return. Not for us necessarily, but for “all that they could be.”
So, why do I hate being a mother?
Because I loved it so much. I let it define me. Not totally, but too much.
I let my motherhood mushroom into my entire calling. My entire being… When I felt useless and inadequate, when my life felt empty because mothering/homeschooling was about all I did… I told myself there was no greater calling than to raise children for the Lord. To make this world a better place. To give our children a hope and a future and equip them with every opportunity we could afford them.
I not only gave up my career, my financial independence, my freedom… but I gave up myself. My hopes and dreams for me. Very Willingly. I tried so hard to be perfect. So my children would have a good role model. So they would be inspired to be the best they could be. I remember the day after my son moved out – I was lying on my bed crying like a baby in front of him and having the oddest feeling… I realized that was the first time I could remember not caring about how my actions affected him.
And because I willingly sacrificed – the awakening is harder. There was no martyr attitude – well, maybe some days- but not overall. And as I sit here with the children grown and me wondering what the meaning of my life is now…I hate that I let being a mom take over my existence. I hate what I made it to be. I hate that I feel so empty without them around…
I can’t say I wasn’t warned..….
I remember sitting in a homeschool seminar..
A homeschool mom spoke to the audience filled with parents encouraging them to keep developing their interests as they raised their children. She talked about how it was important for our children to see their parents with hobbies, interests, friends. To see their parent’s investing in their own talents, desires to learn new things, plant gardens, learn to play an instrument, read book, etc. I didn’t think I had time for that. I was so “busy” trying to study and see what my children’s interests were and develop those – giving them every opportunity… that I didn’t take the time. I didn’t learn to play the piano alongside them. What could I have been doing that I didn’t do that?!!! By the time my son went to prom he didn’t even trust that I could make his girlfriend a nice corsage (and ordered one from a grocery store) when floral design is my most favorite hobby. Obviously, my fault.
As moms, we often put ourselves on the altar. And I believe to be a good mom, we need to. But anything to the extreme is not good. Our children, husbands, friends, need to see “us”…. Not just “Mom”. Being “Mom” is just a part of who we are. Sacrificing our interests, our marriages, our gifts and talents is not admirable. It may feel noble and praiseworthy for a season, but when that season is over….and the kids are gone…..
For you young moms – my encouragement to you is to give it all you’ve got!!! There is no higher calling. It is, indeed, a privilege to be a mom. A privilege to help mold the next generation – and it’s a lot of hard work, but fun too!! But remember who you are. Stay interested, and interesting. Take a chance and call a friend and ask them to babysit so you can enjoy time with your husband. Treasure that relationship. Grow with your child.
Develop your interests alongside- when you’re finding ways to develop theirs. One for mommy, one for children. Learn to play piano for the children, plant a garden for mommy. Don’t lose who you are. Develop it. For those moms with extraordinary challenges- whether it be health, working full time, single parenting, a difficult marriage, etc. – don’t discount even the smallest investement in YOU. Pick up a magazine. Read a comic. Call a friend. Give yourself permission to do one small thing for yourself per day. Something that recharges you. Read your bible. Sit in meditation for 5 minutes. (try not to get in front of a screen, computer/tv, for your time, as that doesn’t really bring a sense of fulfillment. It just kills valuable time.) Keep it simple. Keep it do-able. It’s a great gift to your children to see their mom as a person. And a great gift to you (and your husband).
For us older moms– with a new role! Good job. Yep, we made mistakes. Lots of them. Oh well, we gave it our best shot. The past is the past. Your children know you love them, that you support them… Don’t get caught up in regrets and “I should’ve’s”. Focus on today – being loving, encouraging, urging them on gently towards all God has for them.
With the kids gone/going we aren’t left high and dry. We have a whole new life ahead of us. Maybe a bit scary but why should a little fear stop us?! We wouldn’t want it to stop our children right?!
Let’s take the time to do what we put aside. Give yourself permission to develop what you started and didn’t put your whole heart into. Remember what you wished you had time to learn/do when the kids were little?
What was it?
For me, I have oodles of ideas. Spanish, piano, gardens, reading books, writing, offering babysitting so a young mom can go on a date with her husband……
My head swarms…..
How about you? Will you do it? Make your life extraordinary! Enjoy it!
I’d love to know what you think… 🙂