I remember when I was 16 yrs old, and I begged my mom to let me drive to downtown Chicago to go hang out with some friends. To add some context, I grew up in Rockford, IL, and it was about an hour and a half to two hours outside of my city. In my mind, I was for sure the best and most experienced 16 yr old driver out there. I know I had just gotten my license, but I knew everything there was to know about driving. Sounds like a typical teenager right? But I was different. I was sure of it. I was mature, I was aware, I was cautious, there was no reason for my parents to say no because of how grown I actually was. I was so confident they would say yes before I even got the full question out.
Among all of the things I was certain I was, I was also completely delusional to think that my mom was going to let her 16 yr old daughter get into a car and drive to a city I had never driven in on my own before. And to my absolute surprise both her and my dad gave me a very hard no. Like a no that wasn’t even worth negotiating with, reasoning with, or fighting with. But that didn’t stop me. I tried negotiating, I tried reasoning, and when neither of those options worked, I most definitely picked a fight I was sure I was going to win. I’m sure you’re wondering by now what the outcome was right? Like on the edge of your seat just dying to know if I was able to drive myself to Chicago to have a great weekend with my older college friends. Well, let me ease the suspense. From what I can remember, I’m pretty sure I spent the weekend in my house grounded from tirelessly arguing with my parents trying to convince them that they were wrong and I was right. Needless to say, I never made it to Chicago that weekend. Or any weekend for the next year or so.
It’s funny how we challenge our parents way of parenting when we are younger. How we question why they say no to certain things when we are sure they should be saying yes. I could write a novel on the amount of different arguments I got into with my parents from questioning why they wouldn’t let me do what I wanted to do all of the time. Because we as the kids always know best obviously:)
Six years ago I became a mom. I remember everything about those first few days in the hospital, welcoming my perfect baby boy into the world. I was instantly in love. Instantly in awe. Instantly in wonder. Instantly protective. Instantly fearful. Instantly convinced that I would do whatever I could to keep him safe, and whole, and loved. It was within the last couple of years that I was talking to my husband about how in 11yrs or so Parker would be driving! Obviously I started crying at the thought of my first born son being out on the road just driving around without my supervision. I know you guys, it’s a lot of years away but moms, lets be honest, time flies and 11 yrs will be here before we know it! But it was in that moment when it hit me. I was brought all the way back to that time when my mom wouldn’t let me drive to downtown Chicago by myself, and I spent the whole weekend mad at her for it. It didn’t make sense. I didn’t understand. And to be honest, it wasn’t possible for me to fully understand why she did the things she did fully until I was in the same position of life she was in….as a mom. Now I get it. Now I understand. She wasn’t trying to keep me from having a great weekend. She wasn’t trying to make me upset and deprive me of what I deemed as the most exciting, the most can’t miss event happening that weekend. As a mother, she was making the wisest choice she could to keep her daughter safe. So that I could have a lot more weekends to enjoy in my future. She did what her motherly gut told her at the risk of me being horribly upset with her because she knew it was the right choice. And now, now I respect her for it. Now I honor her for it. Now I’m grateful for it. Why? Because I get it.
It’s funny how when you become a mom you start to understand the depths of what motherhood actually looks like. What it feels like. There are just some things in life that nothing can prepare you for outside of experiencing it for yourself. And being a mom is exactly that. You can read every book, listen to every piece of good advice, read as many articles as you can find, talk to moms that have been moms for 50yrs and still it will not prepare you fully for becoming a mom. It’s one of those things that you have to do in order to understand.
Being a mom has got to be one of the most selfless positions in life you will ever play. And I don’t say that vainly, I say it because even if you wanted to be selfish, which I do often, it is rarely possible. Your money isn’t yours to spend on yourself anymore, your bathroom breaks are never private, your showers are never longer that 3 minutes, your dinner is NEVER eaten hot, your mornings are never for sleeping in, your bed will never be yours again, your personal space is completely irrelevant, your conversations are never uninterrupted, I mean moms, our bodies aren’t even what they were before we had children! It’s hard to be selfish because when you are, at least this is true for me, I feel what we call “mom guilt.” Not all of the time, but a lot of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing things for myself like getting my nails done, taking a 15 minute nap when I can, having an hour and a half of silence when the kids are napping….but there is a part of me that thinks my nails don’t have to be done, I should be cleaning while they are napping, and in the silence I should at least fold a load of laundry or two. The “mom guilt” struggle is real.
Being a mom is hard work. My whole life all I wanted was to get married and have a lot of kids. I have always loved holding babies and being around kids. They are just so fun and so life giving. And I was so sure I knew exactly what I was getting in to when I was pregnant because I nannied and babysat for years! So surely, just like when I was sure I was the best and most experienced driver out there at 16, I was going to be the best mom because I had watched everyone elses kids for years. Haha, like I said before, I was obviously delusional. It’s so different when it’s your own child and you are with them, caring for them, nurturing them, loving on them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every mom out there knows exactly what I’m talking about. But I say this, not because it sounds right and it is what you are supposed to say, but truly, in the most raw and honest spirit, though being a mom is the hardest full time job I have ever had, it is absolutely the most rewarding privilege I have ever had in my life.
I love being a mom. It’s challenging, tiring, rewarding, exciting, surprising, frustrating, and beautiful all at the same time. You can be upset with your kids all day, breaking up fights, wiping stains off of the walls, cleaning crayon off of your cabinets, mopping up the spilled milk and food from the floors, and then after they finally go to sleep you stare at them while they are quiet and peaceful and think to yourself how perfect they are. How amazing they are. How incredible it is that God chose YOU to be their mom.
What an honor it is to be a mom. To be smothered with hugs and kisses from these little humans that, even on your worst parenting day where you feel like the most awful mom on the planet, they still think you are the best. Those of you that have teenagers may feel a little different because they may not be as quick to forgive and forget…trust me, I was a teenager at one point too and thats why I’m praying extra hard for my boys now because having teenagers terrifies me!:) But truly, what a gift motherhood is, and I’m grateful I get to experience it on this earth.
To all of the moms out there, I want to encourage you in the way I try to encourage myself. You are doing a great job. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Keep doing what you know to be right, and when you’ve had a really bad day or a series of bad days, take a deep breath, start over, and remember that you are not alone. We have all been there. And will all be there again. A good friend of mine and I were talking a few days ago, and I was having a rough parenting day. I hadn’t communicated that to her, but for some reason she just said “you’re doing better than you think you are.” I hadn’t mentioned at any point that I felt like I had been a horrible mom lately, so her words were extra special because it was exactly what I needed to hear without knowing I needed it.
You are doing better than you think you are. Love your kids, pray for them, and ask God to give you wisdom on how to parent them, to lead them, and to love them. I pray that often because the truth is, I don’t know everything there is to know about being a mom. And just when I think I have a handle on it, my kids change and evolve and I have to re learn how to parent in every season life brings us. Being a mom is hard enough, try not to make it harder by always being hard on yourself. Give yourself some extra grace, take a deep breath, and remember, you’re doing an amazing job.
Happy Mothers Day.