Being a mom is without a doubt the greatest experience of my life. It’s hard. It’s dirty. I love it. Every single day I think about how blessed I am to mother my children. Sometimes that thought comes after I’ve had my third cup of coffee or stolen a few minutes in the closet with a chocolate bar. But still the thought comes. And I mean it. The short nights and long days are all worth it. My kids make me laugh even when I’m exhausted, under-caffeinated, and itching for some grown up time.
The kind of mother I am has so much to do with the lessons I learned from my own mother. I’m not perfect by an stretch of the imagination. There’s so much I could do better. But I try hard.
In honor of Mother’s Day I want to share some of what my mom has taught me that I want to emulate.
Love unconditionally. My mother has always made it clear that there is nothing my sister and I can do that will dampen her love for us. No matter how grumpy or unappreciative we were her love has never been based on our mood or actions. I never heard her say “I don’t like you right now” or “I need a break” in response to our behavior. While she likely needed and definitely deserved a break she kept that to herself. She simply just loved us.
I aspire to show my children the same boundless love each and every day. They can be filthy, noisy, over-tired, and in the middle of the world’s largest temper tantrum. I will love them through it and I will make sure they know it.
Make time for the small stuff (and of course the big stuff). My mom sacrificed a lot to spend time with us. She could have had nicer clothes, a better car, a bigger house, and fancier vacations. But my parents weren’t chasing wealth. We all had what we needed and a lot that we wanted but nothing extravagant. It was plenty. An extravagant lifestyle wasn’t their priority. We were.
My mom was very involved in our lives during the years she stayed home and when she worked outside of the home. She helped in our classrooms, attended every field trip, and knew every teacher. She and my father coached our rec basketball and softball teams. She played an active role in our church youth group and chaperoned every choir trip. She didn’t do any of it begrudgingly. I think that’s the real key. If we were there, she was there and happy to be.
Be present physically AND mentally. My mom didn’t stand on the sidelines on the phone. Cell phones didn’t exist. There was no social media. No texting. When she was there (and she was always there) she was 100% there.
I don’t want my children to be more familiar with the top of my head than my face. I don’t need to be hunched over my phone focused on something that just isn’t as important as they are. The message I want them to receive is the same one my mother sent to us. I am present. I am invested. There is nothing more important than this moment with my kids.
Be an open book. My mother was always willing to discuss anything. There were times (many) when this was embarrassing to me. That’s okay. It’s good to be uncomfortable sometimes.
She readily shared the stories of her youth so that we could learn from her mistakes. I believe I avoided a lot of heartache because of this.
My mom asked questions about our day and what was happening in the lives of our friends. Anything and everything was fair game. Her openness is a huge part of why I have a close relationship with her.
Be a parent first and a friend second. There wasn’t much my sister and I could get away with. The discipline my parents provided was always out of love. They were firm and fair.
I will put my role as parent above any desire to my children’s friend. I will not buy them alcohol or act inappropriately with their friends because “it’s cool”. I don’t need some sixteen year old thinking I’m cool. I will be their mother. It’s the very best job on earth so why would I want to be anything else?
Be a fan. According to my mom I could (and still can) do anything. Every dream was well within reach and I believed her. I want my children to feel the same. I will not speak negatively about them. I will not limit their potential. They are capable of being and doing so much and I’ll be their biggest cheerleader every step of the way.
Foster faith. We grew up active in the church. When my sister and I didn’t want to go to Sunday School my parents dragged us anyway. My mom encouraged us to participate and get involved in every ministry opportunity available. She knew that by fortifying our relationship with God we’d make better decisions in all aspects of our lives and find friends with similar values.
As we grew older she taught us to study the Bible for ourselves. To dig deeper. To ask questions. To search for answers in the Word and not rely on anyone else for an interpretation of God’s teachings. We have brains and we’ll use them. She continues to encourage us in this way. I have learned to deepen my faith and understanding through the Word.
Likewise, I want my son and daughter to know God. Not in the abstract “He exists” sense. No. I want them to really know God. I want them to rely on Him, to appreciate the many blessings we receive from Him, and to arm themselves with the great knowledge that only comes from reading the Bible.
My mother didn’t raise perfect kids (although she’ll tell you she did). She raised kids who have very few regrets, give their all, prioritize family, and love the Lord. When I look back at my childhood I see so much joy. So much good. So much love. If my children can say the same I’ll be pretty tickled with myself as a parent.