There’s certain qualities I would name if you asked me what makes a good mom.
I’d begin with patient, sacrificial, creative, strong. I’d add in encouraging and consistent, loving and empathetic.
In this birds-eye view of mothering though, they’re the words that describe it, not the moments that manifest it. What I’m saying: Naming something is easy, living it is harder.
Here’s what I think about: On a day-to-day basis, what does a Momma do to cultivate those actual qualities? In the minutes and moments and mayhem, what can a mom do to act like and become and be one of the good ones, resilient ones, grace-filled ones?
Because the day-to-day life of a Momma is a bit nuts, if you ask me:
It’s dinnertime, a Sunday evening, 5:00pm.
Lane is off playing soccer so my girls and I sit around the table- one eating yogurt (the 5-year-old), one eating cereal (the 7-year-old), and one isn’t eating much of anything (the three-year-old) but this is normal. As I was searching the fridge for what to feed them a few minutes prior, I had discovered two leftover pieces of pizza wedged in the back and now they are mine; I carefully shield and guard the both of them.
“I want some dat, Momma.” It’s a statement, not a question, I notice.
“No, baby. This is Momma’s dinner. I’ve given you several other options you can choose from.”
“But Mama. Dat ting you have? I want some.”
She stays in her seat a hot second, only to get herself on top of the table, on her belly, and pulls herself across like she’s swimming. We all watch, curious. She gets to my plate and proceeds to eat the crumbs that have fallen off of my pizza.
She looks at me with a glint in her eye, maintaining eye contact while bringing crumbs to her mouth.
“What? I not eating it!”
“Fine. Kiddo. You’re not going to eat my crumbs for dinner. Here, have a bite.”
She has a bite, and then convinces me to take turns- one bite for me, one bite for her- and we finish the rest of the pizza in that back-and-forth-cadence of Me and then Her and then Me and then Her.
She eats more pizza than I do, as it turns out.
Lane gets home from his game a bit later with a busted ankle- This dude and I slid in at the same time for this ball and it was awesome and I’ve still got it, baby- and I feel badly for him, really I do, but mostly I think about how this is one more person I get to take care of now.
Mothering is constant as an ocean, giving and giving and giving of yourself, even when it seems there isn’t more to give.
It’s the summer, all of it.
When I was on my own this summer with Lane half a world away, Brennan began to develop a rash. Well, it was pretty clearly hives, what wasn’t clear was how or why or what to do about them. It happened after water exposure and it happened after she got cold and it happened when she ate anything and when she ate nothing. They were there when she would wake and then they weren’t ten minutes later. They itched but then they didn’t, I kept a food diary but then it seemed futile, the allergist was baffled and so was I.
This is going on and Lane is across the world and I speak to him every now and then but mostly forget to mention the hive situation. I keep meaning to, but I do tell him other things about our life and he tells me some things about his, but there are lots of things that go unsaid.
If this family is going to stay afloat, it seems, it’s up to me. The laundry, the meals, the playing outside in the rain. The taking out the trash, the clipping of fingernails, the reading books side-by-side on the couch. It’s me, it’s me, it’s all up to me to remember who likes syrup on top and who likes it on the side and who has a loose tooth and who needs to take a pill morning and night because they might be allergic to either anything or nothing.
Mothering is feeling like the glue that holds it all together- the people, the stressors, the details, yourself.
It’s the afternoon, a Tuesday, 4:00pm.
I’m in the kitchen making dinner and lunches and snacks for the rest of the week and the girls are running actual laps around my dining table and kitchen island. They’re laughing and screaming and giddy and running quick- don’t catch me!
What I want to do is yell and tell them to stop and declare Not In My House!, don’t you dare break anything!
Quick cost/benefit analysis instead: They are running and they are moving and they are laughing and not hitting each other; this can and will continue, I decide.
The cost, of course, is my quiet house and thinking thoughts in my own brain.
But I see it so clearly as I spread the peanut butter- our home is a place where they can be wild and free, a place where they can make mistakes and learn, a place they are loved and built up and able to lose it here so they can go into a world that is difficult and confusing because they still don’t really know how to navigate much of it.
Our home is a place where my kids can be kids, really.
I can handle some noise if it means they feel free.
Mothering is a see-saw, holding needs and wants and love and discipline in an ever-changing balancing act.
Mothering is like glue, it is like a see-saw, it is like an ocean. At the center of it?
A probably tired, most-likely overwhelmed mother.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, about how wild mothering is and how it changes by the day and how these darling and ridiculous moments could break me to pieces if I let them.
So I had to learn how to not let them.
See, up until a couple years ago, I saw good mothering as all about them, truth be told: their behavior, their meltdowns, and how I get a 2-year-old to just behave, for the love. I saw good mothering as behavior management, really.
Finally, finally, I realized that mothering is actually less about them and more about my heart as a mother. I knew I needed something to shift within my mothering- it needed to become wider and deeper and higher than I had let it become.
So I wrote down some things I’ve learned along the way and I would love to share some of them with you. They’re less parenting strategies, and more ways of being- ways to approach mothering and life and walking in love in all things.
What I’m going to do is point you to the light and tell you the way I got it to blaze within my heart and my family. I peel back the curtain, little by little, tell you what has worked for me, and cheer you on that it is completely possible for you too.
I wrote something that I would love to get in your hands, a gift that I hope will help you see this light as well. I created a free 7-day devotional for mommas, a downloadable PDF, that I hope will help you live within the transformational and redemptive awareness of a loving God with us, always- even when there’s splattered yogurt across the kitchen floor.
Ways of Mothering walks you through seven daily devotions grounded in biblical truth as well as a scripture verse and corresponding benediction. It is an invitation for mothers to discover a deeply abundant, meaningful life within her own mothering journey.
Please, friends, help me get this into the hands of as many mommas as we possibly can! I would so appreciate it if you share this so that together we can transform Mommas as they transform the world.