Being My Mother

Being My Mother May 15, 2006

My Mom always sends me the nicest Mother’s Day cards. And for years I’ve been rather puzzled by this as she is, after all, my mother and not the other way around. (As my husband Mark would say: “Of course I didn’t get you a card! You’re not MY mother . . . .”)

Every year my Mom usually writes something in her card thanking me for making her a mother (my other four siblings were nice, of course, but I was first). I keep meaning to point out that, in actuality, I had nothing to do with my own birth . . . but who ever wants to have that conversation with your mother, you know what I mean?

This year Mom included with her card a picture of her with all five of us. Don’t you agree that she looks tired? Frazzled? Stunned by where life has landed her? I kind of thought so when I saw it (but knowing me I was probably projecting).

The funny thing is, when we talked today she told me she’d made copies of the picture to send to all of us because looking at this picture–a picture of a mother surrounded by all her kids–well, it makes her . . . happy.

That’s what she said . . . happy.

Then she went on to tell me that being a mother is the crowning achievement of her life.

And it is here that I encounter personal crisis.

I love my kids; those of you who read this blog are probably sick and tired of reading about them, in fact. But I’ve never been a real Earth Mother kind of gal. I couldn’t wait for babyhood to end; independence is encouraged in my world; if you skin your knee at my house you are more likely to get a lecture about how life is hard than an hour of back patting on the couch. Discussions of breastfeeding bore me; PTA meetings are my own personal torture; snow days or school vacations send me into a panic.

It’s terrible, I know, but I did not get my mother’s mother gene (my sisters did, but that’s another bitter blog entry).

This is what I was thinking today when I came home from church to a felt-covered pencil holder, a hand-stitched bookmark and this card (pictured here).

Now, I know in my head that I am not a mushy maternal individual, but looking at the carefully lined up handiwork that will clutter my office for years to come, I felt a strange stirring in my heart. It’s the same stirring I feel when I am greeted with a joyous “MOM!” most days after arriving home from work . . . or the warm happiness that floods over me like hot fudge when I hear an excited recounting of baseball field feats.

I’m shocked to admit it, and I’ll probably never hear the end of it, but this Mother’s Day I have to say I might just be a little bit like my mother. I mean, I’ve come to a kind of peace that I will never live for the maternal role, and I freely and enthusiastically embrace the frazzled nature of life as a mother.

But I guess today I have to agree with Mom that there’s something about being surrounded by my kids, something about the utter honor of being a mother that makes me . . . happy.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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  • Anonymous

    Happy Mother’s Day, Amy.

  • Anonymous

    I was thinking about this stuff on Saturday morning… I was not eavesdropping, I was actually covering my ears and trying to read. I overheard some moms talking about their kids and I came to this conclusion: Some, maybe ALL, women FEAR motherhood. For whatever reason, perhaps they fear failure or maybe it’s a fear of losing themselves, they might fear losing the approval of others. I’m sure there are so many other fears and things that, on the surface, do not “present” as fear. But it’s out there. My heart goes out to women like these because I know that fear. I fight with it daily.

    I don’t think motherhood is about genetics, I think it’s about choosing to die to self for someone else… It’s hard work and it means personal sacrifice and also, it means viewing little people as more important and more needy than ourselves. That’s tough stuff!

    Preacher, I think you are being too hard on yourself and applying a standard that may not be fair. You don’t have to love nursing or PTA! Who does? Okay, sorry if I have offended any La Leche people. :) You love the people that you DO those things for. You sacrifice to be at those PTA meetings or, you choose to leave the room when the conversation is just getting interesting because (you don’t want to flash anyone and) your baby needs to eat. It’s not something that’s “beneath” us. I think culture tells us these lies that we are above certain things. Jesus didn’t model resistance to embracing a role and neither should we. He was grieved by His followers but He always loved them, even when He was tired. Can you imagine how many “stupid” questions he was asked every day? :)

    I applaud your honesty because such confession lets us know that we are not alone and that we need each other (community) in the pursuit of truth and growth. We don’t live in a perfect world and we are not made from cookie cutters. From single parents to double income families, the roles of moms are complex. From healthy upbringings to way too many unhealthy raisings, we are not all going to look and respond alike.

    But, if we know and love Jesus, we will live lives that intentionally and unintentionally look different. We will strive to live in light of His grace and we’ll be looking for His strength and His approval in our comings and goings. This is what the Gospel is about. It’s about Jesus being our only hope for yesterday, today and tomorrow!

    So let us look for our worth in Him, not in our kids or our peers. May we have lives that unapologetically look to the needs of others before ourselves, starting with our families. If we know Christ, we are God’s children and we know well the love He lavishes on us. When I think about my sin and my self-centeredness and God’s grace toward me in spite of me… I get a little perspective. I screw up all the time but I have to choose to live in God’s forgiveness and also His truth about me as His child. That gives me strength and desire to care more for His approval than for anyone else’s. And we will find rest, healing and strength to be selfless moms ONLY in Him.

    Happy Mother’s Day and thanks for the post, Preacher! You are a beautiful Mom, just like your Mom! “Her children rise up and bless her…” Proverbs 31:28

  • Musings

    I totally know what you mean, Amy. My new life as a babysitter to a 3 month old doesn’t make me want be in babyland of my own anytime soon. However, I love children that can talk, play outside and enjoy reading hour. (Hooray for you that your children are at this stage).

    I am glad there are enough of the maternal types in the world so I don’t have to pretend to be one myself!

  • revabi

    You do look like your mom, and where is the other two in your life, or are they your husband and the church? LOL I only said that because I get accused of that, and often think that. But seriously even though that picture made your mom happy now to look at and to send to you, does not mean it was happy times for her? Mommyhood is a tough experience, it takes everything you have got and then more. My mom had two “nervous breakdowns” when we were children that we know of. Since I added the third in my life, I think “where is that Mother’s little pill, and no wonder my mom had a breakdown.”

    I agree with Anonymous, I think you are being too hard on yourself about your feelings, actions and thoughts. From what you post, I can tell you love your kids, and it appears they know it very well. I think for those of us who are mommies, and pastors it is very difficult because of what both require, and we tend to put higher expectations on ourselves, as well as other professional/working moms. On the other side of this, I wanted to be a mom, but was scared to death of being one for fear I would abuse my child, and that I wouldn’t really know what to do with him/her, or how to love or nurture her/him. I often think, it is a good thing I didn’t have children when I was younger. (Now mind you I earned money as a teen babysitting, and did a good job.) I am not a perfect parent, but you know that I am the parent my children need, as one of my parishioners told me, and so are you. Happy Mother’s day.

    On another note, how in the world are you Pastoring, doing a DMIN, and mommying, and being a wife? You have more courage than I do. I’ll be thinking about you.

    And I also appreciate your honesty and sharing your inward thoughts. They often resonate with me.
    Sorry this is so long.