Someone asked me the other day about what being a mother meant to me. I searched for an answer at the top of my mind and I quickly replied, “Three things.
#1: Making career decisions based on what my children needed,
#2: Putting dietary restrictions on myself in an attempt to live a longer and healthier life,
#3: Giving up all kinds of privacy and learning to do bathroom business while my children watched.”
Funny, isn’t it? And I’m only half kidding.
Being your mother has changed me in ways I never thought was possible. It has altered the way I saw myself and the world around me. It has forced me to learn, adapt, adjust, create, remake, and improve myself and the way I do things. It compelled me to have the courage to try new things and to get back up whenever I failed. How I wished that motherhood came with a little bit of warning on what to expect before it threw me on the wildest rollercoaster ride! However, in the midst of all the confusion that left me feeling like I’m left in the wilderness, I have found joy like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I have become content and satisfied with the things I used to take for granted, because now I know that as long as we’re healthy, we’re safe, and we’re together, everything in my world is good.
Motherhood, for me, has been a journey of constant learning, of trials and errors. But this is not a letter wherein I tell you what to do. And it’s certainly not an attempt to pretend that I know everything because to be honest, even after ten years of mothering, I still don’t know what I’m doing sometimes. Instead, this is where I open up my mama heart, to share the lessons that I’ve learned along the way. This is my heart wanting to speak to, nourish and encourage your heart. Because I believe that, one day, you too will have the privilege to mother a child of your own.
1. You cannot do this without God. If there’s one thing being a mother has taught me, it’s to depend completely on God. There’s no chance I’d survive this ride had it not been for His grace, and His grace alone. I believe that my children are His children too and that He has their best interest at heart. That thought has relieved me in more than one occasion and has given me the courage to turn myself into a warrior instead of a worrier. Motherhood is a daily walk of faith and prayer. And through whatever storms you find yourself in, be certain that He will never let go of you and the little people He has given to you.
2. Your heart is home for your children. In the early years of our marriage, I used to joke to your Papa that the bedrock of our marriage is “If Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy!” How little did I know that there was truth to be found in what sounded like a really selfish sentence. Your children will live in your heart. So as much as you clean your house so that your children will have a comfortable place to live in, you need to do the same for your heart. Fill it with goodness, kindness, comfort and love, and there will be nowhere your children would rather be.
3. You will feel disappointed and you will disappoint. Let me tell you something: most of the time, things won’t go as well or as smoothly as you planned. You will experience hiccups. Things will go wrong. You will find yourself disappointed in something – in yourself, in your partner and in your children. And you, in turn, will disappoint someone. It won’t feel good. But every time that happens, I want you to remember to address your feelings. Don’t sweep it under the rug. Instead, talk about it and start the healing process. Your children needs to be confident of your love for them, that you love them no matter what, that your disappointment in them could never diminish the love you have for them. And in turn, you will gain strength from their confidence in you.
4. You know your children best. People are problem solvers (or at least they think that they are.) They will offer you solutions and advices whether you asked for it or not. They will act like they know what’s best for your children and make you doubt your ability to actually parent them. Being a mother doesn’t mean that you have all the answers; it means that nobody knows your children better than you do. However, you need to know that it takes a village to raise your children. While you shouldn’t be discouraged by people who offer you unsolicited advices, you also shouldn’t be afraid to ask people for help when you need it. But remember that, at the end of the day, the choices are in your hands, because no one will know your children more than you do.
5. You have to honor your marriage. A strong marriage is the best gift you can ever give your children. A safe and comfortable home is built by the two people who started the family. Honor your husband. Let your children bask in the love and respect you have for him and your union.
6. You need to make time for the things you like. In the midst of the busyness of taking care of your children, you need to also take care of you. Don’t lose yourself in the middle of parenting. Don’t let your “mother” role drown your identity. Before you were a mother, you were a wife, and before that, you were you.
7. You don’t always have to measure up. Being a good mother by society’s standard in this day and age is impossible. There are areas where you will fall short. You might miss a dance recital or forget a parent-teacher conference. You might not know what the hell you’re doing. You might even feel like you’re doing motherhood all wrong. On those days, it’s important to remember that you don’t have anyone to be responsible to but yourself and your children because on those days, winning might be as simple as being grateful that your children are alive and well.
8. You are enough. Along the way, you will find that you don’t have enough hands or time or strength. You will find yourself feeling guilt-ridden because of the choices you make. But I want you to know that you are enough. There is no one better to parent your children than you, because just as they were given to you, you were given to them. Just like you and me – I believe this wasn’t a coincidence. You were chosen for me. And I have been chosen for you. We’re in this together and we are enough.
Although we might not see eye to eye sometimes and say things to each other that we don’t mean, in the midst of our off-beat interactions, I hope that you know just how much I love you. And I hope you believe me when I tell you that your children are lucky to have you because you are amazing.
With all my love,