I remember being a kid and having a friend of mine ask, “Why do you tell your mom you love her so much?”
I can still remember answering “Because I do, and I want her to always remember it.”
It was a sweet moment, one in which my mom had a big smile on her face. However, I can also vividly remember standing in the kitchen as a teenager in the middle of a heated argument saying, “I pray that I don’t become the mother you are.”
That was an awful moment and a terrible thing to say. We fought a lot. We were both passionate. She was a single mom.
Now that I’m a mom, and mine is no longer living, I can see those moments that I thought were so hard and unfair from a totally different perspective. Even through all our disagreements, my mom taught me many lessons about motherhood that I now actually fervently pray that I will live out.
1. It’s OK to take time for yourself
I used to get so mad when my mom would go into the bathroom. She’d stay in there a long time and wouldn’t let me talk to her until she came out. I now realize that as a single mom, that was just about her only time to herself! She worked all day, came home to the “job” of mom all night, then started all over again the next day. The few, brief moments that I get throughout the day in the solitude of my own bathroom are rare, and now I find that I am the one asking for privacy. Usually little fists start knocking, and fingers and toes, and even toys, are shoved under the door, as my boys try telling me all the things that I’m missing while being in the bathroom. I don’t always insist that my kids wait to talk to me until I come out, but I do make it a point to have alone time when I can. And let’s face it, as busy moms, sometimes the bathroom IS the only place for that!
2. Accumulate Moments Rather Than Stuff
Finances were tight. My mom was often stressed. Sometimes we were on food stamps. Sometimes my mom borrowed money from family and friends to pay bills. Up until the time I was in 7th grade, all my clothes were hand-me-downs or from thrift stores. Many times, I was embarrassed by our lack. As a mom now, I’m sure she was too. But she always took the time to tell me she loved me and to hug and kiss me. She wrote me little notes before she left for work. She came to my sporting events. I never got expensive birthday gifts, but she made a big deal out of my birthday with balloons and a homemade card and cake. I loved all those little personal touches. I don’t have the same struggle with finances that she did, yet I find myself trying to come up with less expensive, more heartfelt moments to share with my own sons. I learned that you don’t need money to make something meaningful. You just need resourcefulness and determination.
3. Do Your Best & Give God the Rest
She always told me, “I’m doing the best I can with what I have.”
I will admit that I didn’t always think so. However, as hard as I now think motherhood is, I realize she was. My loving husband comes home and jumps right in with our boys. He helps with bedtime stories and dishes. I can unload my frustrations on his listening ears. My mom didn’t have that. I wasn’t able to understand even a glimpse of what she must have dealt with until I had kids. Was her best enough? Is mine? Without God, that’s a scary question. None of us are perfect parents. One thing I know for sure, is that my mom prayed a lot for me through the years. I have no doubt that her prayers paid off. Where we come up short as parents, God’s grace seeps in if we’ll let it.
I’m thankful for the lessons my single mom taught me. She was more successful as a mom than she realized. Despite all her imperfections, lessons were caught and learned. I didn’t get to tell her all these things, but I will cherish them, and do the best I can to live them out in my own mothering.
We won’t be perfect. Our kids may say things at times that break our hearts. But, here’s to all you Mamas out there! Keep doing your best. That really IS all we can do–with each day that we have. And by the grace of God, our kids will learn valuable lessons from us as well. Happy Mother’s Day!