A Mother's Tale

I serve in many roles, but the one that has given me the greatest joy, and the biggest heartache is that of a mother.  I find the fact that a woman is able to carry another human inside of her, is one of life’s little miracles that goes unnoticed.  It also creates an indescribable bond between mother and child, and is the closest we mere mortals get to unconditional love.  After a woman has given birth, the pain that comes with it is no longer important because now she has a tiny human being who she is responsible for molding, guiding, and developing into a productive member of society. She must instill morals, values, and watch as her child grows and matures, praying that she is doing “a good job.”  Parenting means sleepless nights, tears, anxiety, and disappointments, but it also means joy, pride, love, and acceptance. 

I have given birth to four healthy baby boys.  They are no longer babies though, they are grown men with lives of their own.  The time went by so quickly, it was like one day they were children, and then they weren’t.  I have often chastised myself for not being “a better mother”.  By whose standards, I’m not sure, I guess I would have to say my own.  It would be so easy to recount the ways that I have failed my children or all of things I did or did not do or wish I had done differently.  I wonder how many other women have felt the same way.  I am not allowed to wallow in such self- condemnation.  It would do me no good, and I’ve never been one who has had time to wallow.  I console myself by knowing that I absolutely did the best job I could with the knowledge I had at the time.  See, maybe beating myself up would make sense if I had given up, walked away, or allowed my boys to figure it out on their own.  I did none of that, in fact, I vowed at a very young age that I would do everything differently than my mom did (I’m sure many of us have been guilty of that vow) I would be a “better” mother.  I would give my sons everything I never had, including a father, even if it killed me, and it almost did.  Sometimes we are so to make a thing happen, that we miss the thing that is happening. I was so consumed with wanting my boys to have their mother and father that I kept us all in an unhealthy environment.  I subjected myself to physical abuse primarily because I didn’t want to fail my children, but that’s exactly what I was doing.  What never occurred to me is I was teaching my sons that they way to handle conflict is through violence. 

Parenting isn’t just about the things we intentionally teach our children, though I’m a strong believer in intentionality. I believe that it is even more critical now than ever to be intentional about what we are teaching our children, just as important, is what we show our children.  Eventually, I ended the relationship and thus I became a single parent.  It wasn’t what I planned or what I wanted, but it was necessary.  As a single parent, I learned that I was much stronger than I ever thought.  My boys deal with the trails of life head on because they watched me take care of a household and keep it all together without ever letting them see me sweat.  They often tell me how thankful they are that I taught them how to be thinkers.  I was never intentional about teaching them to be thinkers, they watched, and they learned. 

As I reflect upon the years gone by, I can see all of the birthday parties, the injuries, the fights, the wrestling matches, the trips, and the weekend outings.  I can see them in their matching outfits that I would buy for them.  I think about all of the moments we shared as a family and how grateful I am for all of the time.  I regret that I didn’t take more time to live in the moment, that I didn’t cherish each moment just a little more, because one day they would grow up.  They would leave, and they would have their own lives separate and apart from me.  One thing that will remain the same though, is that I am their mom, my role hasn’t changed, it just looks different.  I look at the grown men who I birthed into the world, who are generous, funny, and intelligent, and I realize that I did get some things right. 

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there, you are worthy of celebration!