Today is my mom’s birthday! My mom is a wonderful and loving woman and she has been even more of a blessing to me since becoming a mother myself. Although my mother and I are close, I have to admit I caused her a fair amount of strife in my youth (and well, I actually still do sometimes). I constantly chastised her for doing things I deemed “silly” and a slight love affair with rebellion made me challenge even the simplest of rules. But, my mom never caved. She was intent on staying the course and raising us the best way she knew how. I could write this entire post on the subtle but powerful parenting choices that my mom made. The fact is that I never understood their impact until I became a mother myself. There are so many things that only a mother understands. My mom could have tried to explain until she was blue in the face and then some and I still wouldn’t have understood until I became a mom myself. Here are a few “Mom Truths” I’ve realized since becoming a mom myself.
1) Being a Mom is terrifying. It’s all well and good to mock or chastise your mother for things like reminding you to look around before you get in your car at night or to be careful on your run… until you become a mother yourself. I never understood the terror of everyday objects like stairs until I saw my oldest son standing at the top of the stairway in our house, giggling down at me after having scrambled up them for the first time. We don’t want our kids to grow up afraid of the world, so we bite our tongues, say a prayer and hope for the best. This method makes them feel better, but it doesn’t do a whole lot to change the fact that the world seems much more dangerous than it did in our pre-mommy days. I now totally understand why seemingly benign things like going to the mall for the first time with friends or trying out for cheer leading gave my mom that telltale tight smile. She was excited for me and didn’t want to hold me back, but on the inside she was terrified because the worst thing that can happen to a mom is that something .bad happening to your kids.
2) Being a mom means sacrifice – but you make that choice gladly. I knew growing up that my mom sacrificed for us, but I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t realize how much she sacrificed until my children were born. My mom chose to stay at home with her kids and give up a very promising corporate career because she wanted to ensure that we had all the love and affection we could ever want and she knew we wouldn’t get that if both she and my dad had stayed on their career paths. Choosing to stay at home is certainly rewarding in many ways, but for a type A personality who’s used to a demanding schedule and high pressure deadlines it is a huge change. In addition there’s also the obvious financial sacrifices that come along with going from two incomes to one income. I’m not sure how my mom managed it, but she ran a household of 6 people (including my grandparents), and made sure that my sister and I never wanted for anything. In fact, we were downright spoiled. All of these things that I took for granted (and honestly, pretty much spat on) were huge sacrifices on her part. I remember asking my mom why she didn’t do more things for herself, why she didn’t join a gym, why she didn’t buy nicer clothes, and thinking that when I became a mom I would never do things that way. Now I see that when you’re a mom your kids come first, always. She was willing to sacrifice things to make sure we had them, and she did it because to her there was simply no other acceptable option.
3) You will do ANYTHING to make your kids laugh when they’re sad. My mom once ambushed a family dinner wearing a brown paper grocery bag on her head which she had turned into a mask. It’s a long story, but the bottom line is she did it to make her kids laugh and bring some joy to their night. At the time, my grandfather was going through chemo treatments and very ill, which took a toll on everyone in the family. My mom didn’t want my sister and I to get so caught up in the stress of cancer that we missed out on our childhoods, so she planned little surprises and theatrics like this to keep us laughing and bring joy to this stressful time.
4) Even Moms are Human. This one might have come to other people a lot earlier, but I really put both of my parents on pedestals even into my early adult years. If I had a problem my mom was one of the first people that I turned to, sure that she would have an answer or some profound insight. At some point during my first year as a mom, I realized that my mom was pretty much just like me. She had stood in my shoes, and just as I was unsure about the right choice to make she had been too. I guess despite seeing my mom make mistakes she always seemed like sage guide to me, and I still expected her to KNOW what to do or say for any given situation. The truth is that she was making it up as she went along doing the best she could and apologizing when she made mistakes.
There are countless other things I didn’t understand my boys came along, and I’m sure as they get older that list will grow and grow. I’m so thankful that God has blessed me with the opportunity to be the mother of these little boys, but I’m also thankful for the new appreciation it’s given me for my own mom. I hope that after my boys are grown, they’ll look back on their childhoods with as much awe and appreciation as I do now.