Modern mothering is not easy. I blame most of this on the amount of information we are bombarded with every day. There are so many ideas on how to care for and raise children. And now, more than ever, we have instant access to millions of these ideas all the time. It can become overwhelming. I start to wonder if I am creative enough, teaching enough, searching out enough activities and taking them to all the places they need to see. And then there are moments like this photograph that bring it all back into perspective for me.
Safe. Loved. Valued.
That is what my children are looking for. I think I often make motherhood way too complicated and in the process lose touch with what my kids truly need. Pinterest and Mommy Blogs can provide really fun ideas, but they can also be a source of stress. Googling something is just as frightening. Type out one question and you will be bombarded with so many websites and opinions that you will find yourself falling deeper and deeper into an information rabbit hole.
A friend once told me a story that changed the way she parented. The wisdom she shared with me had been passed to her from another mother further in her journey. She said, “I decided that I could not do everything. I also knew that I would never be the craft mother. So I thought about the things that I loved. I loved to read. And so I decided I would be the reading mother.” This story has stuck to my heart this past year as I keep thinking about this question…what mother am I? And maybe the even more important question… what mother do I want to be?
I think back to my own childhood. To my own mother. She was always there. Not in an overbearing way, just in a way that made you feel safe. She sat on the floor and played with me. We colored together and read books and played dolls. We did these things together because they were all things that I loved to do. What I remember most is she was available to play with me. As I grew older, she remained available. The years of playing dolls had longed passed but I still enjoyed spending time with my mother. I think this had much to do with the fact that she enjoyed spending time with me. Some of my favorite memories of my teen years took place in our kitchen. I would sit on the counter and tell her all about my day and my drama and my dreams. She never seemed too hurried or stressed to not have the time to listen.
We all went to church together on Mother’s Day. As I looked up from the pew, I saw my baby girl snuggled into my mother’s arms. The look on her face. The moment. It all reminded me of my own childhood. My situation is so very different from my family growing up. My sister and I were almost seven years apart in age. And even though I have five stairsteps, I still want my children to believe in their core that I enjoy being with them. I want them to remember that I took time to play with them and was always available to listen.
I want to be the mom who makes them feel safe, loved and valued. I want to be the mom who is available.