Friday, May 08, 2015

The Myth of Best Mom Ever

This morning I enjoyed the sweet tradition of Muffins for Moms at school with my children.

After breakfast, all the mothers took a seat in the Commons area as students performed a simple and cute song honoring their Moms. I wish I had a copy of the lyrics, but there was really nothing Earth shattering about them...which turned out to be what I appreciated most.

The students wore ear-to-ear grins as they sang to a room full of their biggest fans about the very ordinary things Moms do from waking them up to tucking them in--and lots of menial tasks in between. I grinned through my tears because those sweet children sang with a gusto that illustrated their individual beliefs that THEIR Mom really was the best.  The BEST at packing their lunch, the BEST at tucking them in, the BEST at hugging them when they cry. What a reminder that I am not trying to be better than other Mamas, I am just trying to do my best with my little flock.

After the performance, the children served as hosts and hostesses in their classroom and presented us with gifts. The art was fun, but the fill in the blank pages are always my favorite. Even as my children age, I revel in the gift of their words. While they no longer think I am 16 years old and 18 feet tall like they did in preschool, I still couldn't help but chuckle at some of their responses.

My three same aged kids, growing up with the same Mama in the same season of life deemed me "great," "awesome" and "cool" for entirely different reasons.

R: "She is nice, loving and outgoing. She is always there for me and never, ever stops loving me. I love when she plays with me. She teaches me to finish the drill, work hard and never give up." (He values presence and active investment in his life and growth.)

P: "She always spends time with us. She is never mean to us. We love when she takes us places. She is kind, loving, caring and funny. The most important lesson she has taught us to keep a napkin in our laps." (This sensitive and family oriented kiddo even crossed through every reference to "me" and made it "us." And you better believe he is working hard on table manners. Ha!)

K: "My Mom is so crazy and fun. She can really creep people out with her British accent. She loves to watch me play soccer. She makes awesome pasta. Her job is being a Mama. She has taught me to clean my room and never be mean." (So, she used the word crazy twice, but she values excitement, fun and adventure. She is proud when I am silly and engage with her friends.)

What a reminder that each little heart and life values different things and therefore has a different formula for feeling loved. Yet, God entrusted all three to little old me. Some days I feel pretty good at it and other days I feel like a miserable failure.

I think this is what makes Mother's Day complicated.  A day that celebrates the beauty, sacrifice and blessing of motherhood can make me feel like a poser. I know I am not the "best" or the "greatest" Mom in the world as Hallmark would like to make me believe. I often don't feel like serving or giving one more time--I just want to eat my french fries and not share. Some afternoons I want to let dishes and laundry pile up while I sit in the sun and veg out with a mindless ipad app. Some nights I am annoyed when people are up past bedtime and I just want to sip hot tea and read alone. I'm snappy when I should be patient.

Don't even get me started at all the super Mom checklist things I am not doing: growing my own food, buying only organics, mastery of natural oils, yoga, gluten free, screen free, homeschool, nightly family devotions... I am well aware of my reality, my hopes and my inadequacies, so when we start throwing around "greatest" and "best" the words ring hollow.

Somewhere along the way being grateful for Moms turned into announcing that every Mom is the greatest. I'm calling baloney. Motherhood was never intended to be a competition. If we fall for that trap it will so distract us from our primary mission that we will fail the very ones we were assigned to love. 

Frankly, I don't want to be the best or greatest. I just want to love well. I want to be seen and known by my people. I want to feel loved and appreciated in return. Keep your trophies and give me a good solid hug.

Being an effective Mom is a moving target that begins and ends with relationship--relationships that fill us up (the Lord, spouses, friends, small groups) so that we can pour back out in our families and our communities. Our assignment is to know and love the little ones God has entrusted to our care and do our "best" to love them in a way that points them to the "greatest" love of God. That is enough because He is enough.

So, Mama, you keep doing you while looking to Him -- because that version of you was handpicked as the greatest/best choice for each one of the hearts He entrusted to your care. 

Happy Mother's Day!


Keri said...

Beautifully-written! I love your thoughts on this subject. I also love the different thoughts of your children. Makes me wonder what mine would write if they were prompted...I may put a bug in my husband's ear tonight... ;-)

dee said...

Happy Mother's Day!

Denise Ross said...

Happy mothers Day JMom :). I love what you've written. I loved my gifts for Mother's Day, spending a little time with my family together, my kids are older and so aren't with me the whole day so I appreciated the time that I had with them. I went through old photos of my parents, both of which have passed away, happy memories and thought about my mu. And the wonderful job she did raising us with my dad, but I especially loved what my kids wrote in my card and what my husband wrote in his card to me. Their words warmed my heart and filled it up.