A few days ago I was sitting with my mom and we were talking about... my kids (as always) I mentioned to her how for the first couple of years of my first child's life my parenting style was the "not-like-my-parents-raised-me" style. I told her how my thinking has changed and I realize that hers, and dads and my step-dad's style wasn't ALL bad. And that it is quite possible that they did some things well.. maybe even..right. She asked me. "when did you realize what you were doing and what made you change your mind?" I said, " I don't know exactly, but I think it was when I realized that my way wasn't all right either.. and that I needed ALOT of grace!" So, I continued to think about it that day and a few days after and I just know that.. they did their best. The worked with what they had and what they knew and they did their best. It wasn't all right, but it certainly wasn't all wrong. Looking back, there are some very painful memories and situations, but the good far outweighs the bad.
In my short career as a mother, I have got to experience so much with so many women along this road of motherhood. Some older than me some younger and every area in between. I have friends with 1 child and I have friends with 5. Some of my friends adopted children outside of their race and some are in a biracial marriage and have biracial children. Some are very organized and structured and others are more spontaneous and messy. I have cried with my friends when they miscarried. I have rejoiced at the announcement of a pregnancy. I have stood in shock at the announcement of ANOTHER pregnancy when a friends baby was just months old. Many things I have lived second hand through my friends and their children. It has been just over 9 months since my friend Tressa's baby died in her sleep at 5 months old. Our family and several other families stood and prayed as Baby Averie came into the world weighing 15 oz and displaying a spirit of strength I have yet to experience anywhere else. We watched as she made her journey through several NICU's and finally to her home here in Arkansas. It was my pleasure to watch her parents grow with her and step into their role as parents. We sat with them after Averie passed and experienced their faith in an amazing God, regardless that their worst nightmare had just come true. Although I only experienced it secondhand, it was the saddest thing I ever encountered. Averie's mom has been nothing but encouraging to those in her sphere of influence. She knows that to shrivel up and cease to exist would not do justice to her daughter, much less her God. She is STILL a mother. Just because she and her sweet baby are temporarily separated, that is not any less true. You can't stop being a mother
A couple of nights ago, we were out to dinner with our best friends. They had brought along with them their 6 month old son. As almost all babies do,(unless he is the near perfect baby of my friend Heather ;) ) he began to cry as soon as the food came. We juggled the baby back and forth trying to keep him happy, but the little guy was so sleepy! Finally his mom put him in his infant car seat and begin to jiggle the seat with her right hand and attempt to eat with her left hand. I watched as this mom put her son before herself, and I was struck again and what a huge job we have as mothers.
When my middle child was 11 months old, she had to have a major surgery to remove one of her kidneys. I made sure all the post-op appointments were scheduled and we did everything we were asked to do. We were there early and waited until past her scheduled op time to finally go into surgery. Afterwards, I went back and held her little body and rocked and sang and sang and rocked as she slowly came out of anesthesia. I spent that night on a most uncomfortable hospital chaise, laying on sheets that felt like plywood, only not as thick. When she woke up sick at 2 in the morning, she and I slept together, entangled in cords, in a chair beside her bed. I finally went home around 10 in the morning when my husband came to take a shift. I went home to shower and sleep for about 45 mins before I went back to my baby. There would be no keeping me away. We were finally released to go home, and it wasn't until that night when she was safely asleep in her bed that I fell apart. I thought my heart would explode. I do not know how I kept it together that long. I just know that that is what mamas do.
My friend, Felisha is fun-loving and patient with her kids. Tammy is wise and resourseful, seeing opportunity for learning and self-improvement in all kinds of situations. Gabriela is cultured and curious about other parts of the world, she passes this curiosity along to her children. Jasson likes to keep her kids as active as she is. My own mother is extremely creative. Give her a spool of thread, a rock, a jar and a marker and see if she won't come up with something incredible. My cousin Amanda, listened to her heart and did all she could for her son, giving him every chance, even though some told her it was hopeless. She tried. She DID EVERYTHING she could think of. Because she is a mom and that is what moms do. We do not quit or give up when it gets too hard. There are so many more of you, too many to list, but if you are reading this, then you're one of them.
I write all this to say; We are all mothers. Or we have a mother. I have so enjoyed learning from all the moms in my life. I have learned techniques and prayers and discipline strategies and recipes and so much more. Thank you all. Thank you for allowing me to learn from you and admire you. I appreciate what you do. Because what you do is your best. And you know what?
It isn't a competition. We are raising our children as the next generation. We are raising children who will be the next firemen/football coaches/attorneys/doctors/grocery checker/pastors/computer gurus/entrepreneurs/ and so much more. And we are raising future moms (and dads). We have an opportunity to show the next generation that teamwork is the key to success. Rather than picking one another apart or putting down a child because we are insecure about our own or in the way we are arising ours, lets point out the positive and rally together to help someone who is struggling. Sometimes it is a matter of humbling ourselves and saying, as I often do, " I have NO CLUE what I am doing, I am flying by the seat of my pants!" Not to mention, as soon as I start thinking what a good job I have done and how well-behaved my kids is, it will be my son who pulls down his shorts in the grocery store and screams, "HEEEEY! I gotta ding dong!" The Bible says, "Take Heed (be careful) when you think you stand, lest you fall". That means, " girl you better step down off that high horse before your pint sized comanche knocks yo butt off! Cause its a looong way down". I speak from personal experience, unfortunaetly.
As we encourage each other and share one another's pains and joys, our children watch and see that we are on the same team. Even though every child is as different as the parents raising them, they WILL need one another. They will learn how to work together by watching us extend encouragement... and grace.
Because, we know that each is doing the best she knows to do.
I love you ladies!!