One of my greatest fears is that I won’t be the role model that my daughter deserves. This isn’t new. I felt at 21 weeks pregnant in the moment the ultrasound technician said, “It’s a girl!”
I have a mother who couldn’t have done it better. She would be quick to tell you that she was far from perfect, but that is exactly the mother I need. I needed to see that perfection isn’t what motherhood is about. Motherhood is a messy love like a pot of pork ragu that simmers for an entire day. Not made of any special ingreidents, but the preparation creates the ultimate richness and a splattery mess all over your stove.
We don’t mother in moments, but over long periods of time… decades… in simmering pots. Moments are perfection, but years leave us feeling sloppy, remembering the mess of the kitchen and not the richness of the meal.
#7 – Thriving mothers understand that by doing the work NOW, she is making it less likely that her child(ren) will have to do it later
This struck very close to home for me. My mom did a lot of work. She did most of the chore, like cooking, gardening, cleaning, mowing the lawn, and parenting, which is a gift. Her real gift was in the midst of all of that busy-ness, she did hard work on herself.
My childhood is filled with memories of her being happy and healthy. My memory is perfection. She is patient, kind, a great listener, loving, engaged, and committed.
One particular memory when I was small, we went somewhere I had passed many times, but never knew existed. It was a little office on the main street of my home town. Across the street from the familiar Quality Bakery, but above the store fronts of the street. There she met with a woman, while I was expected to play independently with the toys I had chosen to bring in the waiting area. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized what we had done there. She was seeing a counselor. My mother was doing the work so I wouldn’t have to later.
I loved my maternal grandmother, but nobody would describe her as I have my mother. That is what my mom knew motherhood to be, but she chose to change course. She easily could have taken the path that was clear and one that she had traveled before in the opposite role, but she chose to do the hard work and blaze a new trail.
I don’t know exactly what happened in that private room with the counselor, but I do know what I saw when she wasn’t there.
She focused on self care (way before I had any clue what that was.) One Christmas she asked for a “basket case.” She was making them for her best friends. They were baskets filled with items that gave one comfort. I remember agonizing over finding her the perfect basket to put the items in… maybe it is a mother’s love, but she still uses it everyday (#proudbrag). I wish I could remember what I filled it with. It doesn’t matter, because I know what I would fill it with today.
She modeled the importance of having good friends with like thinking. They showed me how to be a true friend… someone who showed up when my mom didn’t ask, but needed them.
She admits her mistakes and shows me that she is learning from them. I think my mom is too hard on herself when she sees me trying to get too much done and blames herself. She gets things done and so do I. Mom also reminds me that you can’t work at break neck pace without breaking yourself. Like many things in life, a good thing until done in excess.
I feel her though. When I see one of my kids get frustrated when things don’t go their way or melt down in emotion, I blame myself too. I think that having my emotions close to the surface keeps me real, but makes people uncomfortable and isn’t always appropriate. Just like my mom, I’m working on being the best version of myself.
This could be the longest way ever of saying, thank you, Mom… for blazing a new trail for us. For being one good mom and the perfect mom to me. I love you!
This is the seventh post in a series inspired by one of my favorite sessions of the Warrior Mom Conference (#WarriorMomCon). Kate Kripke presented on Thriving After PMAD (Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders) where she asked all of us, “What does a thriving mother do?” Her list of ten blew me away and they aren’t just for moms with PMADs… they are for everybody!