It’s true. I’ve been watching you.
Not in the creepy, lock-your-doors kind of way.
But in the unspoken, wonder-and-admire kind of way.
I’ve watched you in my neighborhood, on morning runs, and as you kissed your kindergartner good-bye on the first day of school. I’ve watched you shuffle your family into church, swing your toddlers at the park, and carry two children safely through a mountainside of poison ivy. I’ve seen you juggle cereal boxes while talking on your cell-phone and pushing three kids through the grocery store. I’ve exchanged e-mails with you, read your blogs, and gone to dollar movies with you. I’ve gazed longingly as you pressed your newborn baby against your chest – sleepy legs dangling – your warm hand cradling his head.
Yes, I’ve been watching.
Honestly, I’m amazed. You are remarkable. You are wonderful. You are Mothers.
Each of you is unique. You have different time constraints, work-loads, challenges, and passions. You vary in seasons of motherhood. Some of you are married. Some of you (whom I salute with utmost reverence) are doing it alone. Many of you work outside the home. All of you work inside the home. But I’ve noticed one thing is true for each of you.
You are the right mother for your children.You were the right one when they were born. And you’ll be the right one when they are twenty.
A couple weeks ago, I thought I would lose my mind for all the chaos in our house. The crying, the global disaster on the premises, the little ears that seemed to go missing. (Do they just fall off sometimes? Because no one was hearing a word I had to say!) Weeks of flying the home front solo were beginning to catch up with me.
After accidentally putting cinnamon instead of paprika into the breading for our chicken, cutting a fruit snack out of my hair with scissors, and having my daughter tell me, “Mom – if you don’t start being nice, I’m going to pack you up and put a sign out that says ‘Mom for Sale,’” I was ready to cash in the apron, turn in my mommy badge, and call it a day. Maybe a year. I found myself muttering aloud, “Am I really cut out for this?”
And then I remembered you.
The day you stopped by unexpectedly to say hello. I watched how you interacted with your autistic son. While we talked in the driveway he began to cry. You knew exactly what he needed and you were patient. He wanted a band-aid. I asked if I could get him one. “Do you mind?” you asked. “It’s his fifth one today. But it would help.” I delivered the band-aid and all was well.
I remembered our phone conversation this summer when you were taking your kids to the Children’s Museum. You wanted to know if you could stop by for a visit. “Only if you have time” I said. “Okay” you replied. “It’s summer and we’re packing in everything we can. When I’m not teaching I try to make up for it by playing hard. We’ve been having a wonderful summer.” Your work takes you away during the school year, but when you have an entire summer to spend with your kids, you make every moment count.
I listened to you talk about your daughter’s soccer team. It was looking like she might get cut because she had missed some practices and was playing with a group of older girls. She was distraught after accidentally taking the ball toward the opponent’s goal. You talked with the coach, texted him, went to bat for your daughter. You knew she was good – that she had it in her. And when it came down to skills, you (a soccer-player yourself) spent an hour with her every day working on drills – passing, dribbling, defending. She improved and she stayed on the team.
I laughed aloud as I watched you tickle your two-year-old son. He giggled and giggled and asked you to tickle him some more. Minutes went by until the two of you sighed happy and exhausted. As he rolled off your lap, you told me what you knew. “He needed to laugh. I could tell.” I was so impressed with your intuition – the way you knew your boy.
I read your blog last week and saw the mugshot of your daughter. I don’t know how you can be so brave. There she was – looking at you from behind the camera. And there was your heart – cracked wide for all to see. You’d been searching for her everywhere – worrying, praying. Then you found her. In jail. And it wasn’t the first time. Yet you claim her: “Even though you go missing, I carry you always in my heart.”
Seeing you in less than perfect circumstances – still going, still doing, still giving – gave me perspective and strength. Your faces illuminated my moment of self-doubt and I told myself – Yes, you are cut out for this.
You are exactly who your children need. No one can fill your shoes. No one can give what you have to offer. No one can love or know your child like you do. That is the privilege of being a mother.
And that is why motherhood matters.
I just wanted you to know.
QUESTION: Do you know how amazing you are?
CHALLENGE: Give yourself a pat on the back.
Originally posted October 6, 2010.