I am not a wonderful mom. But I know a lot of wonderful moms. My Facebook feed is filled with wonderful, perfect moms. But I am not the greatest mom ever. Once I saw a coffee cup w/ the words “World’s Okayest Mom” emblazoned on it. I told my husband he should get it for me.
Sometimes, I think I was a better youth group leader and teacher than I am a mom now. Sometimes, I feel like I used up all my reserves on other people’s kids, &, by the time it came time for my own kids, I was empty. That’s an excuse though.
A lot of moms say they have no regrets. I’ve been a mom for 17 years now, and I have tons of regrets. There are so many things I wish I could do over. There are so many things I’ve said that I wish I could take back now. There are some things I didn’t say that I should have said. I’ve yelled too much. I’ve been too lazy and too selfish. I’ve slammed some doors. I’ve asked for the wrong things at the wrong times. I’ve hovered too much, yet didn’t pay enough attention.
My kids have had a shy, nervous, introverted mom who was too anxious to schedule play dates and follow sports teams, a mom with migraines which have taken her out of the mom-business for a couple of days at a time for too many times, a too-impatient mom who hurried them along too fast and didn’t stop long enough to wonder with them, a too-worried mom who never let them run free on the playground…
I don’t deserve them. I may not be a wonderful mom, but my 3 kids are wonderful. And they’ve deserved better. Sometimes, I think that’s where a lot of my anxiety comes from. I know I don’t deserve them. Trust me, I know I’ve been blessed beyond myself. And there’s a part of me that’s always waiting for God to realize He made a mistake in allowing me to be their mother.
But God doesn’t make mistakes. Which is both reassuring and terrifying.
Hopefully, they’ll know, even though I was only an okay mom, I have loved them… with all my heart. And maybe they won’t need too much therapy.
But I know I haven’t done enough or been enough, and I wonder often if I’ve taught them enough. One day, you wake up and your oldest child is 17, and you come to the awful, bittersweet realization that your time with your children is really only a small fraction of their whole lives. And there are no do-overs. There was so much more I meant to do and meant to be.
I imagine one day someone will ask my daughter, “What did you learn from your mother?” And she will reply, “She taught me how to load a dishwasher to its maximum capacity.”
“Oh, and to always have the stuff for spaghetti on hand. She taught me that too.”
I meant to do more than that.
But, then, every now and then, we have a moment where I realize that, perhaps, in between causing them to be too scared to cross the street and teaching them how to load a dishwasher, maybe there has been more.
Yesterday was the first day of spring, and we were in the car – my husband, our 3 kids, and myself. We had ice cream, and it was sunny in the way that those first days of spring can be. The windows were down, and the music was up. And, from the back seat, I could hear them singing to a Zac Brown song.
And I thought to myself, I taught them that.
No, not the song itself, but the simple joy of singing in the car with the windows down while cruising along the road?
I taught them that.
And I started thinking. Maybe there have been some other things too along our journey… maybe I’ve taught them some other not-so-bad stuff, like…
- How to always appreciate the lyrical beauty of an expertly written phrase,
- Decorating for all the holidays is fun,
- There is a difference between your/you’re and never say “I seen”
- Celebrate days like National Ice Cream Day and the Olympic Opening Ceremonies
- Tomorrow is another day, and His mercies are new every day,
- Say yes to dessert sometimes,
- Be gentle with animals and old people,
- Gift-wrapping should be special – never underestimate the magic of cellophane wrap,
- Sometimes, it’s okay to overdo things,
- Always have a mason jar ready for lightning bugs,
- Even when you procrastinate, you still have to get it done and get it done well,
- Even when you’re shy, you need to try your best to include everyone
- If you’re organized, you’re less stressed,
- Be proud of your southern roots,
- When you drive through a tunnel, close your eyes, hold your breath, put your finger on the roof, and make a wish,
- Always take time to find seashells,
- Quiet is not all bad,
- When you see trash, pick it up – even if it’s not yours,
- Special events require new outfits,
- Isaiah 41:10,
- It’s okay to go down rabbit trails,
- Make it pretty,
- Take time to remember and respect our American heroes
- If it’s worth doing, it’s worth both overdoing and doing well,
- Be kind, even to the person who is not kind to you,
- Pajama days are sometimes necessary,
- Don’t forget the hostess gift,
- Research to the point of obsession anything that interests you,
- Scattergories is the best board game and Nertz is the best card game,
- Take the long way home – and avoid busy interstates,
- Listen to music,
- Hold the door for people,
- When you can’t fall asleep, make up stories in your head,
- Always pack 2 pair of underwear for each day of a trip and include at least one pair of socks – even in the summer,
- Packing smart for a trip is a good skill to have – use lists,
- Proper table manners are important – like the correct way to butter your bread,
- When you get overly involved in a TV show or movie fandom, you’ll find yourself both gleeful and frustrated,
- It’s not a Road Trip without our special Road Trip Snack Mix,
- Leave a place better than you found it,
- If it’s a really good book, it’s okay to read under the covers way past your bedtime,
- You can never have too many books,
- Birthdays require cakes – and the cakes need a candle for each year,
- Put away your phone when you’re with people – especially during meals,
- Around sunset, look at the sky and notice the colors,
- Learn how to be okay with just yourself for company,
- You should always have at least one Christmas tree with ornaments that tell your story,
- Plant petunias in the spring,
- If you’re going to eat candy, eat chocolate,
- Let yourself be whimsical and romantic,
- There’s nothing wrong with enthusiasm and cheer,
- There’s also nothing wrong with themed parties,
- There’s especially nothing wrong with matching, coordinated outfits,
- Laugh yourself silly and dance in the kitchen,
- Choose the ocean over the mountains because the horizon goes on forever,
- Binge-watching TV + ice cream = a good time,
- Sand + salty air = perfection,
- You don’t have to eat the peas – unless it’s blackeyed peas on New Year’s Day,
- Upon entering a hotel, the first thing to do is wipe all the surfaces with Clorox wipes
- There is nothing that a hot shower won’t make at least a little better,
- Appreciate moments,
- Be patient and wait for an almost perfect wave,
- Take time to stand at the ocean’s edge and let your feet sink…
I know that I haven’t taught them well or enough of the really important stuff. There are many things I wish I could go back and try again. I’m not a wonderful mom.
But, one sunny day, after they’re grown and on their own, maybe they’ll be in their car and the windows will be down. A song will come on the radio, and they’ll sing along. And they’ll be reminded of me.
Our mom taught us this.