I had a great Mother’s Day. I can’t remember a Mother’s Day before this one that I have been made to feel more special or appreciated. On Friday, I got to spend a fun afternoon with my Mom and sisters and a couple of cousins. Then Jeff and Anna Kate and I spent a night at the lake with his sister’s family. Fishing and camping. And by camping, I mean in my sister in law’s camper, which is basically like staying in a nice hotel. Because y’all know this girl doesn’t do tents or snakes or bugs.
My daughter and her boyfriend surprised me by painting my kitchen while I was away, and on Sunday, they made me a beautiful surprise brunch, complete with flowers, all the food made from scratch, and the table set with the good crystal glasses.
Jeff took me shopping and waited oh so patiently while I tried on EVERY item in the store. Then proceeded to tell me he had so much fun with me. And meant it. My youngest sent me a sweet Mother’s Day message. Several others gave me special gifts.
It’s one of God’s ways of showing me how He turns something bad into something better. One of the good things that have come out of this is Jeff’s attentiveness and appreciation for me. They all went out of their way to make it a special day and it was really beautiful and I was so blessed by it.
I had always wanted to be a mom, for as long as I can remember. I think it started with my little brother. He is one of my first memories in life. I was 3 and a half when my mom brought him home. I thought he was the best thing in the world. I just assumed he was mine. I carried him around, and dressed him up and put him in my little wooden baby doll cradle, right up until he was about 3 and wouldn’t fit in it anymore, bless him. 😂
Becoming a mom didn’t happen as easily as I had hoped it would though. Month after month after month would go by with negative test after negative test. So I was thrilled to find out that I was finally going to have a baby.
And then 4 years later, I was lucky enough to have another one.
I have two beautiful, smart, healthy girls. What an amazing gift that I’d been blessed with. And what an enormous responsibility.
I was responsible for them. For taking care of them. Making sure every need is met. Making sure they were healthy. Happy. Safe. Making sure they felt loved. Making sure they knew about God and how much he loved them. Teaching them right from wrong. Teaching them to believe in themselves. Keeping them safe.
Did I mention keeping them safe?
Wait. a. minute.
So they aren’t just cute and precious and smell yummy like Johnson and Johnson baby lotion and love me more than anything?
They are living breathing humans with bodies and spirits and souls and I’m expected not only to take care of their needs but also to NOT screw them up.
Did you other Mamas that have gone before us forget to tell us this? Or did we just not listen because that darn tiny little itty bitty onesie with the monkey on the butt was so cute we couldn’t think about anything else?
Being a mom, it’s wonderful and beautiful , and there are no words to describe how fulfilling it can be, but it can also be downright terrifying.
Like many of you, I’m my own worst critic. As moms, so many of us second guess every decision we make. “Was that the right way to handle that? Am I getting it right? Should I have said yes to that? Should I have said no?”
Or we beat ourselves up for the times we know for certain that we failed. For the times that we responded to them in frustration, or just plain exhaustion. For the times we had a lapse of judgement. We wonder if we scarred them for life. Or if we broke their spirit. Have we caused damage that can’t be undone?
Oh how our hearts ache to go back to those moments and respond with wisdom, kindness, patience, and love.
And then there’s that whole keeping them safe part. And not just their physical bodies, Lord knows that’s not easy. Emily once stuck a metal key into the electrical socket and nearly electrocuted herself, and Anna Kate flipped right off the bed into the edge of a bedside table and left more blood all over our Disney hotel room than a scene from CSI.
Dear baby Jesus.
But their minds and their hearts. We especially want to protect those.
When our family fell apart last year, nothing broke my heart more than seeing how their hearts were broken. The one thing I had always been so intent that we would spare them was a broken home. And as hard as I tried, I couldn’t protect them from that moment.
And I hated myself for it.
Because they are my sweet, sweet babies and I couldn’t keep their world from crumbling around them.
Sometimes even when we try our best to do everything right, even when we do everything in our power to keep them from pain, even though we do everything we can to control what happens to them, sometimes things just happen that are out of our control.
The truth is that we can’t protect them from the world. We can’t protect them from experiencing pain.
And sometimes that’s the hardest truth to learn as a Mom.
Because they aren’t really in our hands. They never really were. They are His. They always have been. And although it’s hard for us to imagine it’s even possible, He loves them even more than we do.
We can’t keep bad things from happening to them. We can’t stop them from having their hearts broken. We can’t spare them pain or disappointment or sadness. All we can do is just be there to love them through it.
But we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when they experience those things, they have a heavenly Father that will be there to comfort them, and who promises to work ALL things for their good.
I couldn’t keep their world from caving in. But since that happened, they’ve learned about forgiveness. They’ve learned what humility, and what true repentance looks like. They’ve learned about grace. They’ve seen the difference in just having love for each other in a relationship and BEING love to each other in a relationship. They’ve learned about redemption. They’ve seen firsthand the goodness of God, and the way he can take something so ugly and so painful, and replace it with something beautiful. They’ve seen what it means to push through the hard stuff. To have faith and to have hope that the good stuff will just keep getting better.
They may not even know it, or realize that they’ve learned all these things yet. But in their own lives, they will have those things stored up to draw from should they ever need it. Instead of what happened to us harming them and their ability to trust or affecting their future relationships in life badly in any way, I have faith that these bits of goodness and lessons in love will be what sticks with them. I can believe in that because God promises He will redeem everything. Every bad situation or circumstance. Not just for me. Not just for Jeff. But for them too. For ALL of us.
There’s another important thing that we need to remember.
We are all human. We aren’t perfect. We make mistakes. And holding ourselves to this unattainable picture of parenting perfection, well, it’s just not realistic. Or healthy. And while we are busy criticizing ourselves about our failures, whether they are just perceived or real, we are teaching our kids to do the same,and soon enough we see that they become all too critical of themselves too. Second guessing themselves. Never feeling like they are enough. That’s not something I want to pass on to them.
Sometimes as parents we worry over making the right decisions and instilling all the important stuff in our kids, and we beat ourselves up for every time we feel we may have failed at getting it right, and we wonder “Are they getting it? Are they getting the good stuff?”
Then God gives us the gift of these little moments where we get to see who they are, and who they are becoming. We get to see the way their hearts and minds are open. We get to see the sweetness of their spirits and the kindness in their souls. We get to see who God is in them. They do get it. They get what God and love is about more than a lot of adults I know, and nothing blesses this mama more than that.
So rest easy tonight sweet Mamas. You aren’t getting it wrong. Because you love those babies with everything that you are.
And love always wins.
So when our precious babies fall down, or when their hearts are broken, we will scoop them up and love them the way only a Mama can, and then we will watch God bring goodness to their lives in a way that we can’t. ❤️
Amy Thurston Gordy