Sunlight filtered through the living room window as she laid curled up braided into a fuzzy blanket on the sofa reading her book. She remarked inwardly that she should probably dust something as flecks and specks danced in the beams. Her book took precedence, delicious in content like a fine wine. She reminder herself the dust will be there later. Her daughter’s little hands lifted the corner of the blanket as she lumbered up to settle on her Mom’s lap.
“Whatcha reading?” She asked
“A book about Mothers” She replied
Her daughter’s long curled eyelashes took on extra dimension in the sunlight. She looked down at her little fingers woven into her own. “Someday I want to be a Mom too you know, what’s it like?” her daughter’s question interrupted her reverie….
“What’s it like to be a Mom?” hmmmm…she tilted her head to the side, and ran her fingers through her daughter’s hair…the loving Mom brush with built in massage.
To be a Mom is to change and grow right along side your children. The trick is to learn slighhhhhtly ahead of your kid’s knowing within life’s timeline, so you can teach through action. I’ve learned words without action holds no power.
You see…while you become a Mom, you are still a girl and a woman within.
You are a leader, yet also a member of a community of Mothers built on camaraderie and understanding. When you are a Mom, I hope you find your community with others whom will sit with you when days are dark, and support you when you challenge yourself. Who will find joy in your mess because they too will feel no shame about their own…Life can be messy sometimes.
Somedays you will be filled with this inner strength and knowing…a brilliant confidence that you are doing the best you can. And other days you will be filled with fear and guilt that you aren’t doing enough. And you only hope your kids will weave the fabric of their memories from the good ones.
You will love like you have never loved before. And that Love is so beautifully vast and without end yet so immeasurably scary within attachment all at once. You will continually remind yourself that your kids are meant to be independent. They will fly within freedom and retreat within self-governance.
They will find themselves…their voice and tribe, and grow a little further away from you daily. You only hope to teach them enough about loving and valuing themselves that they will choose a loving inclusive tribe who will raise them up within support and celebration.
To be a Mom is to learn when to share, when to listen, when to ask curious questions to spark their self-exploration, when to lead, and when to let go. You will question that timing always. It will fill you with insecurity. Trust your inner knowing, and don’t be afraid to show your weakness. It’s incredibly brave to be vulnerable. To say you are sorry and to admit you don’t have all the answers.
You will lean that you can’t protect your children from suffering nor should you. That’s the hardest lesson. You will want to take on that suffering as your own even though you understand it’s within that adversity your children will learn the most.
To be a Mom is to one day understand your own Mother a little deeper. Through your life experiences, the veil will be lifted to reveal her sacrifices and forks in the road. You will be in awe of her strength and you will empathize with her impossible choices. You will understand there were no right or wrong choices within those pivotal times in her life. There was simply the best she could do with the tools she had. You will have devote grace for her, and in return beautiful grace for yourself.
To be a Mom is to be yourself. You do not magically morph into this all-knowing, ever-sacrificing, super-human. You will grow as a woman as your children teach you to be a better version of yourself. They will be your reason for all you do.
But You are You. Do not lose her within Mothering. Keep on being silly, break out into random spastic dance when the mood strikes you, spend your valued time with those who make you laugh, meet new Moms with different ways to rock that role, take good care of yourself, forget the dust which dance in beams of light and get lost in your delicious book.
I watched an overwhelmed Mom the other day, wrangler her 2 toddlers in the midst of a busy business as they were screaming and fighting down the aisles. Another Mom near her leaned in to offer some advice “Enjoy them now while they are young, because one day you’ll miss the sound of their little voices”
The overwhelmed Mom’s face fell further as the cloak of guilt surrounded her spirit.
I can relate and recognize both sides of the coin. One where you don’t realize the simplistic beauty of a stage until the next one arrives. And another where the weight of it all is exhausting. You feel up to the very top of your head with frustration and responsibility. You can’t breathe.
Through the years, empathy and understanding have flooded my Mom-heart connecting to my own Mother’s-heart within wisdom of life experiences I’ve shared with her. Separate experience in different decades, hers in her time; and mine in my time. Like traversing the newborn stage while also chasing another toddler to trying to balance a career along with raising teens all while dealing with a loss of a former life and rebuilding.
What I’ve come to understand more than anything; Mom guilt is the root of shame among Mothers. It’s destructive and dark. There’s no growth that comes from shame.
The centre of a Mother is a woman who is doing her best with the tools she has.
She does not have to feel grateful for the temper tantrum simply because one day her hard work will pay off in the form of a well-adjusted former toddler turned beauty adult.
She is not required to appreciate the miracle of life when it’s within a teen who would rather slam a door on her face than say thank you for forcing an education upon them.
What that Mom needs now is the right to be authentic and real. Acknowledged within her fruition and exhaustion. She is not superhuman. She’s merely human and there are days she wants to run from it all. From the expectations to be happy and grateful within the stages of screaming toddler; to the teen who spews anger when held to responsibility.
She does not need an elder Mom to impress the next stage upon her already guilt-ridden spirit; because she’s not there yet! She doesn’t know it until she lives through it. Just as I didn’t understand what my Mom did for me when I was screaming in her face to leave me alone. It’s the cycle of life; life lessons come organically in the form of actually living the life.
And yet, as I type this…I feel the Mom-guilt creep in for all the children without Mothers and all the Mothers without children. Will this post be met with understanding as I intend it.
I’m writing this within the conviction that us Moms need a sisterhood of women to unite within understanding, compassion, and empathy. To acknowledge that Mothering is not for the faint of heart. It is thankless and crushing at times; and it is beautifully enriching at times. It can be filled with loss and anger one minute and yearning to be better and love deeper the next.
It’s Ok to take a trip away with your girlfriends. To sleep in when you can…nap it out. Take a walk alone or curl up with a good book in a hammock.
It’s not selfish to take care of your own needs along with those of your children.
There is no room for understanding and camaraderie when one Mom camp shames another for mothering in a different way.
This Mother’s Day I want to appreciate, acknowledge and applaud all those Moms who are trying their best. Who collapse at the end of the day on the couch with a glass of wine and some smutty reality TV on their PVR.
Those who stay home with their kids; and those who work full-time.
Those who stand in an aisle flanked by screaming toddlers giving into the chaos for a moment; and those who leave a full cart of groceries behind to carry their screaming toddler out.
Those who slip away for a break; only to realize they don’t really want a break; they just want the right to be their own person as well as a Mom. To have the freedom to feel the wide gamut of emotions that weave the canvas of Motherhood in all it’s successes and defeats.
It’s all OK.
Feel all the feels and then remember that through all the deep love you have for your family; you too are loved and appreciated.
Maybe not today.
Maybe on the day when your own once teen raises their own angry teens.
But certainly on more days than Mother’s Day.
Happy Mother’s day to all you Moms out there. Especially to my own Mom. I love you.
I woke up to the first rays of morning light diffused through our bedroom window. It’s been such a long winter, oh how I appreciate the sunlight and the above zero temperatures.
Wiping sleep from my eyes and patting down wisps of crazy hair, I walk down the stairs to the kitchen. Why is every light on? I remark inwardly that my oldest son must have gotten up for his 11 p.m. snack of a couple of buns with melted peanut butter. As my coffee brews, I look out into the back yard willing the grass to turn from brown to green. I decide I’ll go look for patches of green later in the day, the firsts signs of spring will melt the icicles off of any Albertan’s heart.
Coffee in hand, I check my calendar to see what is on the agenda for this week. I always feel one step behind with work, kid’s after-school stuff, and kid’s school assignments. I mentally take note of this week’s tasks: 2 photo shoots (pretty excited for these), a school bake sale, my first attempt at hot yoga with a friend, Volunteer tea at the school, School forms to hand in, and packing to visit family for Easter. No one tells you that you will feel like you are going back to school when you have kids.
I feel that familiar nagging sense…the monkey that was chillin’ in the corner, meanders over, wraps his little monkey hands around my long neck and then settles onto my back. Hello Monkey on my back, haven’t felt you for a day.
I wonder what about this week makes me feel this way. Almost all of those tasks are doable. I am after all a grown ass woman with the capacity to juggle. I decide it’s the bake sale. It wasn’t until I volunteered to hand out bake sale items years ago that I understood the pressure that can come with such a little assignment. To see the kid’s faces when a Mom puts in extra effort to make a seasonal treat is pretty cute. Kids will also turn into socialite snobs if the treats don’t live up to their refined sugar-lovin’ palate.
You see, a week ago, at 8:20 a.m. (10 minutes before the kids leave for school), my son moseys into the kitchen and announces that he needs bake sale items for that morning. Mother Hubbard!!! As I was hastily making popcorn and looking for some sort of worthy receptacle to house the popping buggers, my son giggles and says “silly me Mom, it’s next Wednesday but I’ll take that popcorn in my lunch. Cool?!”
Back to this morning, in the words of my Dad “I beam up the internet computer” to search for an Easter themed bake sale item on Pinterest. My sorting parameters are this: quick, under 5 baking ingredients, preferably no oven required, but still worthy to bring an oooooooh or an ahhhhhh out of a Kindergarten’s mouth hole. I find the addition of chocolate can produce this result.
I decide on this little diddy…
Perfecto. A while ago, the parent’s association sent a letter home that bake sale were now going to be healthy items. So I made a healthy item, and tried to push my healthy fair (like that shady puppet on Sesame street trying to sell an “O”) among the table of cupcakes and chocolate cookies only to bring those healthy treats home with me.
Pssssttttt…how would ya like to buy a healthy treat?! Circular and not sweet…
Sorry, I can’t compete with cupcakes. I’ll add some oats to chocolate and call it a day.
I inwardly congratulate myself on not being a loser Mom today, because that’s how I felt last week. My house was in shambles, laundry piled to the roof while I compiled a year’s worth of tax receipts. I missed sending the registration to school for my son’s introduction into Junior High next year. The finale was on one special night when I awoke to the melodic sounds of a puking shitting dog. Yay. On the day my dog blew up, I had convinced myself his kidneys were shutting down by the end of day. I stalked him in our yard and didn’t see him pee once. Turns out he ate garbage because I left the door open a crack. I like to think he sauntered up to the slightly ajar cupboard door, opened his little dog peepers real big and said “hmmmm, what do we have here?”. Then he quietly opens it with his little paw hand like a human (he stands upright at this point) tenderly picking out garbage food. Sets himself a miniature dog table where he cuts garbage food with a fork and knife after tying a mini handkerchief around his hairy chest.
Anywhoooo, I wasn’t a loser today. Nope, I was calm, collected and competent. Look at me pinning recipes like a Martha.
Wrapped in her favourite fluffy blanket, my daughter shuffled slowly into my office and leaned into me cheek first. That’s how she hugs. She leans in, clenches her eyes, and waits for her hug and kiss. It’s adorable.
I yell up the stairs to my other two sleeping kids and start on breakfast. My son Lukey comes down already dressed and ready to attack the day with his trademark unbridled energy. I told myself I wouldn’t be that Mom who would make different things for each kid, yet here I was getting cereal with OJ for one and a peanut butter bun with bananas for another. It’s just easier that way. One size does not fit all in this house. Lukey loves left overs, it’s not uncommon to walk into the kitchen first thing and see him bellied up to the island eating mashed potatoes and steak.
My oldest son listens to Metallica while he gets ready. He yells a good-bye as he sprints out the door and revs up his ’87 Chevy to go to high school. He’s a great kid with a killer sense of humour. I wonder how he became so responsible. Lord knows I wasn’t as responsible at his age. I decide to apologize to my parents next time I see them for not being a responsible teen. I may even buy them a greeting card. Note to self: buy a greeting card suitable to wash away 18 years of frustrated memories. I wonder if perhaps my parents have forgotten the time I convinced my sister to tie sheets together and climb out the second story bedroom window. I am thankful the wood pallets broke her fall. I also wonder why my parents never replaced that chunk of carpet in their bedroom I burned while lighting kleenex on fire. One has a hard time forgetting that when you step on a burnt patch of carpet right beside your own bed for years.
Off track again…
I start on the younger kid’s lunches, sign agendas and out-dated forms with a hand-written “hope it’s not too late to hand in”. I always add a smiley face because I figure that will make it better. The smiley face is a lost art. My favourite thing to do to my husband is to add a smiley face and dot his “I” with a heart after he signs the bill at restaurants. ha! What an ass I am.
I realize we are running late. I brush the knots out of my daughter’s hair while she shrugs her shoulders and grimaces with each stroke of the brush. Note to self: make hair appointment to get it thinned out. I repeat myself in a raised voice that can only be likened to Grover. “We are going to be late, let’s go!” No one can find frickin’ socks. Where do the socks go? After getting the kids out the door at a feverish pace, it takes seconds for the Mom-guilt to settle in like a thick fog. I think about all the ways I could have shown more patience, and reprimand myself for not signing forms on time. From Mom-hero to Mom-zero in 10 minutes flat.
Which brings me to the purpose of this post. This crazy, always-behind, calendar of tasks is the small picture. I will miss this some day. In thinking about this time leaving, I already feel the pangs of missing it. My kids need me, and I need them. We may not be a well-oiled machine, but we work.
I am perfectly imperfect. It’s not my job to pretend I’m a perfect Mom because life is imperfect. Authenticity lives within imperfections.
We love some more.
I will treasure the way my daughter Tess leans in for hugs cheek first, hates getting her hair brushed, and needs solitude as she eats her cereal in peace in the morning.
I will treasure the way my oldest son Ty listens to Metallica in the morning, eats 11 p.m. snacks, and revs his truck a little too loud.
I will treasure the way my middle child Luke eats steak and potatoes for breakfast, can never find matching socks, insights panic over the wrong bake sale day, and wears collared shirts under hoodies everyday (buttoned right to the top).
These little seemingly insignificant details are what makes up a childhood. They are what makes up the memories a Mom will always hold dear to her heart.
I hope you can find the beauty in your own little life details today and embrace imperfection. Because it’s beautiful.
Yesterday in a big gross cloud of anger, I posted this status:
My daughter came home from school in tears because a few girls called her fat in her swim suit. She loves swimming, and now she has anxiety over it. We talked about all the amazing things her body can do…run, swim, walk, get her to anywhere in the world she wants to go someday. More importantly, all the wonderful traits that make her who she is. Her wit, creative mind, kind sensitive soul, tender heart who loves others, her brilliant problem-solving brain. I’m still so angry about it, yet my anger isn’t at those girls. I’m angry that our society is so shallow. Girls are “more” if they dress a certain way into a single digit sized clothing. Exercise and eating healthy isn’t actually about health at all, it’s the newest fad diet to fit into those skinny jeans. There’s nothing healthy about that mind-set. It’s the unhealthy pursuit of an external ideal that will never be obtained. I’m angry that because a girl’s body type isn’t the standard of what society deems as “perfect”, that a girl feels shame. As she stood there with tears streaming down her face, I had a flashback to my own childhood in the locker room of the swimming pool. A difference of 30 years, yet the very same tears. So I laid awake last night wondering what I personally can do to break this cycle. All I came up with is to raise my daughter to love others. To love her body for all it can do. And I will remind her every damn day that she is a collection of amazing strengths that has nothing to do with her clothing size. I will be conscious of how my thoughts and actions will positively or negatively impact her self-esteem. And I will be so very proactive to build her up and build up those around me. “All we need is love”….well maybe that’s a bit naive, but what we DO need more of in this world along with love is empathy, understanding, and a lot more depth.
On behalf of my daughter, I received many messages of love, support, and relatable stories as a result. This issue is one we can all relate to, either because we have dealt with it as a parent or because we’ve been shamed by another who ridiculed some aspect of who we are.
When my daughter came home from school, I met her at the door with this little poster and then the kids and I went to jump on trampolines at the indoor trampoline park because nothing is more fun than bouncing into a big pit of foamy things.
After much (too much) thought, I realized something. I’ve repeated the “You are beautiful” mantra to my daughter yet I have an extremely hard time looking into the mirror and thinking that I am beautiful too.
Let me explain…I’ve been thinking about my beauty in an aesthetic sense. I’ve focussed on my outward appearance and I pick apart all the flaws I see on my body. Yet when I think about the beauty of my children, all I see is who they are as a whole. All of them. Their mind, soul, body, every little fibre of their being. I love it all to bits. I think every molecule of their being is beautiful.
Yet I’ve looked at my reflection with shallow eyes. Who I am has nothing to do with the shape of my body.
So today, and in the days ahead, I will look within and open my eyes to see beyond my outer.
How can I expect my daughter to believe she is beautiful if I secretly don’t believe that I am beautiful? I would never say that out loud, but I think it at times. We are what we think. Self-love is as important for us Moms as it is for our children.
I am beautiful. Perfectly imperfect.
And I hope when you look in the mirror today, you see someone who is ridiculously beautiful.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned when I became a Mom, didn’t happen until many years as a Mom. And it’s this: I am more than a Mom.
Let me try to articulate the jumbled thoughts that have evolved with each passing year as my kids get older…
When my son was born, I dove head first into a world I knew little about. I had no idea that I would lay awake at night riddled with Mom guilt over all the things I could have done better. Those first years of motherhood, I believed I had joined a culture of supportive women where the price of admission was simply being a Mom. What I’ve learned through various experiences is that women can be very hard on other women as soon as they join that mommy culture.
I quickly learned that truth night 2 of being a Mom. I was 20 when my first son was born, although I don’t remember feeling “too young” for the role. Looking back at it now, I was very naive about so much. I have a very vivid memory of a nurse telling me so. I felt inadequate within 48 hrs. ha!
There’s always debates within the Mom world about Should’s and Shouldn’ts…
You should breast feed, practice attachment parenting, read up on all the newest parenting trends, put the kids in daycare, enrol them in 2 years of play school, etc. insert should here.
You shouldn’t work full-time, go on vacations without the kids, allow them to play video games, be a stay-at-home Mom, etc. insert shouldn’t here.
Don’t should on me! We are all trying our very best to raise our children, and we all have very different ideas and values on the best way to do that. Us Moms need to support other Moms with empathy and understanding. Because this role is hard! We have enough Mom-guilt as is without another Mom throwing a should in our faces or pointing out our inadequacies. Let’s point out one another’s strengths and learn from other Moms.
I had a moment not long ago of greater understanding on what it means to be a Mom thanks to my own Mom’s influence. I have always looked at my Mom as….well….a Mom for obvious reasons; however, now that I’ve grown along with my children, I realize my Mom is a complex woman as we all are. She’s more than a Mom.
We grow right along with our children.
The idea that a woman’s wants/needs, body-image, ideas, need for autonomy, hunger for self-growth, desire for more knowledge, and wish for fun in her life should somehow magically melt away the moment a baby is placed in her arms is ridiculous.
Not that long ago, I had a conversation with an Older gentleman at the gym and I mentioned I had three kids. “You don’t look like you have kids” he replied. And while I didn’t take that as an insult, it did make me think about what it “looks” like to be a Mom. Do we have a dress code? Is my awkward sway-dancing (which is a watered-down version of real dance done in a public place even though the music streaming in my ear holes makes me want to break out in full awkward dance) between sets un-Motherly? Is there a tone of subdued voice I should sport? Am I too advanced in Mom years to wear double pony tails while I workout? Is my ACDC shirt not very Mom-like? Perhaps the slippage of the F-bomb is definitely un-motherly (I’m working on that). I dunno.
What I’ve learned as I’ve aged is that my mind hasn’t aged at all. Yes I’ve grown in wisdom through life experiences, but in my mind I’m still youthful. I hope I will always feel that way. And I hope my daughter doesn’t look at me and believe her hopes and dreams have to be sacrificed the moment she becomes a Mom. That’s if she chooses to become a Mom. The fact us Moms make sacrifices, goes without saying. Of course we do, so do Dads.
Moms…I’m sure we’ve all been in venues where other Moms were harsh in their judgments of our choices. Hell, I’ve done it myself, much to my disappointment. It’s a flaw that I’m even more aware of as I raise my children to be independent, kind, understanding people. There is so much power in love, understanding and support. Let’s give one another a break. We are Women doing our best to be Moms. But we are still youthful women within, no matter what our age.
I’m pretty thankful that I’m surrounded by the support of some amazing (and hilarious, fun-loving) women. I wish I had photos of all the amazing women in my life, a project for this year!
As I was thinking about the chapter I just read, I had a pretty major ah-ha moment. When I was growing up on the farm, we often ate our meals around the harvest schedule (and often off the tail-gate of the truck in the field). For some reason, I remember rushing to eat…often. I was also told I should eat every bite on my plate and if I did, I was praised.
Even today, my mind believes I should eat quickly and to finish every single bite. This isn’t working for me! Because I’m eating too quickly, my mind can’t catch up to my stomach signalling when I’m full. I’m learning…again…to eat slowly and with intention.
I’m not writing this post to place blame on my hard-working Mom for my eating habits! I’m writing this post because today I realized I do the same thing to my own kids! I rush their meals because I’m done so quickly. I could be making meal time an opportunity to visit and become more connected as a family, yet I’m rushing the process from eating to clean up. I also encourage my kids to eat everything on their plates, rather than asking that they eat until they are full. Hmmmm, in the words of my Dad “Holy Doodle”. I’m going to change this.
And because no post is complete without some sort of visual, here’s my kids serenading me while I cooked supper…
Just another life lesson that sneaks up and bites me in the nose…
I found this ‘lil gem in the bottom of my daughter’s backpack.
I like Me (by Tessa)
I like my mouth, it helps me to eat.
I also like my eyes, it helps me to see.
I like my legs, it helps me swim.
I like my hands, it helps me fish.
I like my knees, it helps me move.
I teared up while reading it because I adore how she thinks. She’s loving her sweet little self for all the ways her body allows her to do the things she loves.
It also reminds me of the importance of being the example of a woman who loves herself because I am the woman she sees every day and looks up to. I want…no I need her to carry on this positive mind-set as she grows up.
A while back, I asked my facebook friends a question on my status: Would it concern you if you gave your child a compliment and they returned your compliment with a flippant self-deprecatory remark?
Of course it would concern me, I would be shocked my son or daughter didn’t understand what a remarkable human being they are! Yet, in thinking about it, the reason I asked that questions is because I do that often when someone pays me a compliment. More often than not, I will respond with some sort of remark that depreciates the compliment they just gave me. To be the example of self-love for my children, I need to reply in the very way that I would expect them to reply. Think about it, how do you handle compliments? Our children are always learning from our actions.
Raising my kids with healthy self-esteems starts with me! I need to prove through my actions that I love myself. I need to respect and appreciate my body for all the activities I have the freedom to do because I have my health. It’s not about aesthetics, the outside, the packaging. My focus can not be on that, I have to show through my actions why this way of life is so important to the quality of my life. It’s about showing love to the body I’ve been given, it’s not a “diet” or a number on a scale or a size of clothing.
I want to teach my children these simple truths and to do that, I need to back up my words with actions:
Regular exercise and eating healthy, natural, whole foods full of colour & nutrients are ways you show love and respect to your body. It’s like putting premium fuel into your car. Living a healthy lifestyle is the key to vitality! We are only given one body, treat it well.
Happiness is found through purpose. You need a purpose that enriches and fuels your heart with passion. Where there is passion, there is happiness.
Life is all about balance! If you seek a life of balance between work/play, friends/family, solitude/companionship, indulgence/moderation…you will find inner peace. Embrace the Yin/Yang! There will always be times in your life when you are pulled too much in one direction. No big deal, just redirect yourself.
Focus on how you feel. If you are making positive life changes to better yourself or your circumstances so that you grow and move forward, don’t be discouraged if the results aren’t coming as fast as you would like them. Soak up how these positive changes make you feel. There is great success when you feel pride. That makes you successful with every positive step you take.
Surround yourself with good people who lift you up, support you, and make you laugh! To attract quality people and authentic friendships to your life, you have to be that exact friend to others. Positive out, positive in (positive out comes first). Just be authentic, then you will get to know people who are the same level of “weird” as you are. 😉
Lighten up! We are designed to laugh, love, share, support, encourage, learn, move! Focus on the good stuff, the happy stuff, the stuff that makes your heart skip a beat with joy. Because life is supposed to be fun! Look at kids for example, they are happy little people! Somewhere along the line, we adults take life too seriously. I hope to always be young at heart. 🙂
So the next time someone pays you a compliment, simply say Thank You. Take that compliment as it was intended, to lift you up and to remind you that you are one incredible human being who is well-loved. Spread the love, lift up another with sincere appreciation. Let’s show our kids what it is to love ourselves a ridiculous amount (just as much as our friends & family love us) because when you truly love yourself, you value yourself far too much to make silly choices. And THAT’S what I want for my children.
Here in Canada, we just celebrated Thanksgiving. Status updates of thankfulness flooded my facebook news feed. Posts about family, love, and happiness were abundant. I spent a wonderful week-end with my family. All the people I met while out and about in preparation for a week-end of food and family were full of joy. The spirit of Thanksgiving had touched everyone I crossed paths with.
It was rainbows, unicorns, and butterflies…at least for a little while. Until the week after Thanksgiving came and I could only wonder if there was a full moon.
Some angry dude cut me off in traffic.
A message of hate popped up within a group supporting Children’s hopes and dreams. To be honest my first thought was “You sir, are an ass hat.” I tried to reply with tact in the face of such hatred and ignorance.
My facebook feed of thanksgiving was replaced with a handful of rants and complaints. Not many, but just enough to make me want to shut down my account in annoyance. I have so much to be thankful for…we all do. The freedom of expression and of speech, a warm house to live in, and food in my belly. The fact I’ve struggled with my weight all these years is a clear indicator of just how lucky I have been to have a fridge stocked with more food than I need.
My daughter came home in tears because a girl in school called her fat. Again.
I could list more examples, but it doesn’t matter. You get the point.
As I was wondering what is wrong with people, a thought came to mind “Who are these people’s parents? How is it they don’t know how to treat others with respect?” The answer to this question, and the responsibility for this issue flooded my heart. I realized that I hold the key to the solution.
Because I AM A PARENT.
One thing I’ve learned through raising three kids, is that they are born pure of heart. They learn their behaviour based on their environment. Kids are giving, loyal, loving, and accepting. They play hard, dream big, and love with no limits.
We as parents have a responsibility my friends. Among the many responsibilities we shoulder, above all we need to teach our children to be kind, patient, loving, and giving. We need to show them how to put the needs of others before our own, to help our neighbours, our friends, our family, and yes…even strangers too.
As I was deep in thought, I challenged myself with these questions: Am I the example my children need of a person who shows others love and kindness? Are they learning these important lessons at home? It’s not enough for me to explain kindness to my kids, I need to show my children through my actions.
Actions speak volumes, and repetition of action breeds habit. Acts of kindness will be engrained within them like rings on a tree. It’s effortless because it becomes who they are as people. Given the environment of generosity and selflessness, little people with big hearts mature into grown ups with giving hearts.
I wanted to share this with you today not to imply that you aren’t raising your kids right, but rather to encourage you to show love to others in ways that your children will replicate. Our children are watching us.
I am humbled by today’s revelation, and I will put these thoughts into actions to make sure that I am an example of kindness that my children desperately need to in turn show kindness and acceptance to others.
I may not be able to change the world, but I can affect the way my three amazing children view this world. I can teach them to give and in turn they will make this beautiful world a better place not just for themselves, but for those around them who need their support and love.
It’s not enough to be kind to those we love. Anyone can do that.
To awaken each morning with a smile brightening my face; to greet the day with reverence for the opportunities it contains; to approach my work with a clean mind; to hold ever before me, even in the doing of little things, the ultimate purpose toward which I am working; to meet men and women with laughter on my lips and love in my heart; to be gentle, kind, and courteous through all the hours; to approach the night with weariness that ever woos sleep and the joy that comes from work well done – this is how I desire to waste wisely my days. Thomas Dekker
Fifteen years ago, on a beautiful October day crisp with the brilliant orange and yellows of fall, I secured my newborn beautiful son into his car seat ready to leave the hospital. I remember thinking “Are you actually going to let me leave with this new soul without asking if I’m at all capable of taking care of him?”
The golden morning light filtered through the window surrounding both of us, and I sat on the edge of the hospital bed and cried.
My favourite nurse walked into the room.
I was embarrassed and quickly wiped my tears away with the sleeve of my sweater.
Surely this was supposed to be the most exciting morning of my life! I was about to take this perfect baby home and shower him with love. I dreamed of this day since I was a little girl.
But I was scared beyond belief. I was responsible for his happiness and security, and I felt completely unprepared.
The nurse walked over to me and tenderly placed her hand on my shoulder. In a calm and reassuring tone she said “You will do just fine. Don’t worry. When you have your first child, no one ever tells you that you may not feel how you think you should. Just go home and love him.”
And then she prayed for me while I bawled like a baby.
I will never forget her kindness. It was probably something she did often for new Moms she cared for, but to me it was the most unbelievable gift of encouragement during the time when I needed it most.
To all you Moms out there, whether you are new to the role or seasoned veterans…
You are amazing.
There is no right way, just your own way.
For every unsolicited bit of advice you will receive about how to “properly” care for your child, simply listen to your own voice that instinctual knows what is best for your child.
Your children will flourish in your love. They will remember it.
When you rest your tired eyes at the end of a busy day and think about all the things you could have done better, remember that the memories your children will treasure most when they grow up are the happy ones.
They won’t remember that you burned the cookies, they will remember that you took the time to bake them cookies.
They won’t remember that you were a little late for their school play, they will remember that you sat on the edge of your seat with pride-filled eyes waving back at them when it was their turn to perform.
They won’t remember that your floors were dirty with watery footprints and sand, they will remember running with reckless abandon through the ice-cold sprinkler in the heat of the day and squishing the sand between their toes in the sandbox.
They won’t remember the hours of overtime put in to save for a holiday, they will remember the amazing family vacation where their laughter floated on the summer breeze.
They won’t remember the me-time you took away from the family to feel like yourself again, they will remember the happy Mom who returned with a revived spirit.
They won’t remember the days you couldn’t get away from your responsibilities to attend their school field trips, they will remember the school events you did make it to.
And they most likely won’t remember the expensive toy you caved in and bought after weeks of their insistent begging, but rather the refrigerator box you magically transformed into a space ship.
They will remember family dinners around home-cooked meals, and family dinners around take-out.
They will remember:
~your strong spirit
~your loving embrace
~your encouraging words
~your soft heart
Sometimes us Moms need to give ourselves a break, and focus on the areas we excel, rather than the areas we lack.
Because our children will remember all the brilliance, magic, and good that lived within those precious childhood years.
In the words of a favourite artist Mindy Gledhill…
Today I had the dreaded task of taking my daughter in for her booster shots. She has a major needle phobia (don’t we all to some degree), so I put off this task as long as I could.
As we were sitting in the waiting room a family of four joined us; a Mom, a Dad and their two gorgeous little boys who I would guess are 3 and 1.
My son, daughter, and I sat across from them. The baby boy was making flirty eyes at my kids, and smiling from ear to ear. He was so full of happy, in fact, he was 100% happy. . I immediately wanted to photograph him. 😉 My first thought was “This family is so blessed.”
As my family smiled and made scrunchy weird faces back at this adorable chunky-monkey baby boy, I noticed how Mom was completely wrapped up in stress. She didn’t notice her surroundings, she had checked out. She ignored her partner who commented under his breath that she had put their son’s shirt on backwards. She grunted back at him while playing with her iPhone. Their older son ran circles around them, 100% full of energy and she ignored each question he asked her. Between smiles directed at us, her chubby-cheeked baby smiled up at her while tightly grasping her hand. Both of their boys were well-behaved and full of life yet with each passing moment, the stress she clearly wore on her face and within her body language grew. She continued playing with her phone while letting out long breaths full of annoyance while balancing her happy baby on her knee. The health care nurse called out their son’s name and pronounced it wrong. The Mom looked to Dad and with anger in her voice, she corrected the pronunciation of his name, and barked at her son to come along as they followed the nurse.
Now I know what you *may* be thinking… Did I judge her for checking out when she was surrounded by what I perceived as an amazing life?
In fact, this is what I was thinking and if she wouldn’t have thought I was a complete nut bar I would have said it to her…
Dear Beautiful Mom:
I understand you.
I was you and I am you.
Your kids are young, and their needs overwhelm you.
You are trying to etch out moments for yourself in the midst of chaos which you are never fully prepared for with your first, and it continues to take you by surprise with the next.
You definitely have moments when the reality of your beautiful life bites you straight in your heart, but there are also many moments of stressful everyday life when you..
It doesn’t mean you wouldn’t do anything and everything for your kids.
You are simply over loaded with the demands of keeping a busy family together…so they are fed, well-behaved, clothed, loved, entertained, adjusted, and happy.
You are strong and the pressure to be that “perfect” mom weighs on your shoulders when you simply want to take a shower in peace and quiet. Or maybe even a bath.
You feel guilty at night after the kids are safely tucked away in the warmth of their beds, and you will remind yourself of all the things you’ve done wrong as a Mom.
You will promise yourself that tomorrow you will do better.
If it would make a difference to your life and lighten the load on your mind today, I would tell you that these kids will grow up too fast and you will forget how much they weighed at this very checkup you are at today. In the not-so-distant future you will close your eyes to try to conjure up a vivid memory of the very chubby baby smile that he is so freely giving away to my family now.
But I can’t tell you that now, because you won’t understand it until you go through it. Just as I too check out and will try so hard to remember this very stage that MY kids are in now. The way my daughter mispronounces words and gets her B’s and D’s mixed up when she’s reading. The way my middle son runs around the house in nothing but his tighty whities and a smile on Sunday mornings and plays with his lego on the stairs. The way my oldest son sits at the kitchen table just as I’m ready for bed and eats almost an entire box of cereal while talking to me between huge mouth fulls.
I do know this. The memories that I hold dearest to my heart and the ones that are the most vivid of my childhood with my Mom are good ones. I cherish all the good. I now know that aside from being my Mom she was also a woman with needs of her own, although with 6 girls there was little time for those needs. The years I remember her going to work at the business she developed from the ground up taught me to be independent. My Mom validated my dream of starting my business. She showed me by example that I could do it. All the responsibilities she dealt down to me and my sisters enabled us to be hard-working and responsible. For that, I am thankful.
Yes, I am thankful for the very things I’m sure my Mom harbours guilt over. I found value within her struggle and now as I try my very best to raise my own family…I realize that she simply did her best as a Mom to 6.
So yes, there are days when us Moms check out and lose sight of how truly blessed we are even when the world around us stares in awe of our little miracles. But there are also days when we understand more than anyone what it is to love someone so much that we would do anything for them and we do exactly that. We love, cherish, give, support, uplift, teach, learn, grow as they grow, and devote our lives to these little miracles.
To the Mom I saw today, there are no judgments here. I get you and I thank you for the reminder today because I too had checked out at that moment.
The role of Mom is hard enough, lets give one another the gift of understanding and support. Heres to you Moms.