If I could write a letter that would go back in time, to the years I was younger and my children were small…here is what it would say:
Dear Younger Mom,
They won’t be little forever. I know that everyone tells you this, to the point it becomes nauseating, but trust me—it’s more real than anything else. Time moves quickly. Even when it seems like you’re forever stuck in a particular season of life, soon it becomes nothing more than a distant memory. And one day you will look back, wishing you could redo it again. Yes, even the hard seasons because you will have realized that they really weren’t so hard after all.
Cherish every moment. What seem to be the most insignificant moments can turn out to be treasured memories you hold in your heart…so enjoy them while you can. The story you have read so many times you could recite it without looking. The millionth time you’ve been told, “Look at me mommy.” The dandelions bunched up in a chubby fist. You will never fully realize the value of a moment until it’s gone.
Don’t just do the mom thing, be the mom. So much is missed when you’re caught up in the tasks of doing. The laundry and dishes will always be there. But the snuggles, the giggles, the laughter…they eventually go away. Be available. Put down the phone. Put away the vacuum cleaner. Look your child in the eyes. Show you’re listening. Interact with your child. Even if it’s messy or not on your schedule. Don’t just do the things that moms do. Be the mom.
Give yourself more credit. You’re doing a better job than you think. It’s okay to give yourself a pat on the back. To relish in what you do well. Feel proud of what you have accomplished and the difficulties you have gotten through. It’s normal to feel tired or angry or frustrated. You are not alone in this. Those moments don’t define you as a mom. Your children need to be okay with an imperfect parent so they can better understand the grace of God.
Don’t get hung up on the small stuff. Most of what you’ll get worked up about is really not a big deal. It may feel like it in the moment. But learn to let go and give more energy to the more serious matters at hand. One day you will even miss the messes, the loud noise and the bickering. Silence doesn’t always mean peace. Sometimes there is more joy in the chaos of life.
Finally, don’t try to fit into another mom’s mold. Be who you are. Raise those children in the way you see fitting. Trust your instincts. Stop comparing yourself to other moms. You were handpicked to be the mother of those children. Your experiences, background and personality are perfectly suited for the task. You don’t have to fit into someone else’s mold. Do you. Be you. Your children will appreciate it.
An Older Mom Who Finally Gets It
Also in my Mother’s Day Series, “My Heart Outside My Body.”
“Making the decision to have a child—it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” (Elizabeth Stone)
Any parent can relate to this profound statement. We have experienced this very feeling, from the early days of wonder when we’re still basking in the miracle of new life…to the later days of surrender when we’re watching an adult child navigate through life.
My children are my heart. And let me tell you, my heart has gone to some very painful places. Times when they’ve been sick or hurt by friends. Their disappointments and sorrow have become mine. I have literally felt their heartaches.
Forever my heart walks around outside my body…
My heart has taken me to places I’ll never physically visit. A son who has served in the military overseas for more than four years. My heart has been in Turkey, Japan, and now in South Korea.
My heart has taken me to places I never imagined going. A daughter who thought the answer to ending the pain in her life was to end her life. My heart has been in an ambulance, a hospital and mental health facility.
My heart has taken me to places that seem so unfair. A son with a skin condition that causes him to look different. My heart has been with him in the midst of bullying at school and his struggles to go out in public.
Forever my heart walks around outside my body…
But the heart of a mother is more than just the pain. It is also the prayer that reaches God’s ears when she cries out and pleads for His help. It is the prayer of strength to get through the difficulties. It is the prayer of healing. The prayer of provision. The prayer of comfort.
My prayers go with my heart that’s outside my body. Intertwined in such a way that my child can’t escape the hand of God on their lives. The protection while far away. The saving of one’s life. The strength to face challenges.
Forever my heart walks around outside my body…yet they’re never, ever alone because mama’s prayers are always with them.
(Note: This is the first post in a special Mother’s Day series I’m running through May). Please feel free to share with other moms!