How To Be A Good Mom (and other nonsense)
I remember wondering what it would be like to be a mom as I played nestled up in a tree with baby dolls and a childhood play-mate. I can close my eyes now and remember this safe space as if it were yesterday, complete with the breeze (Who am I kidding? Wind! I grew up in West Texas.) and laughter of innocence well played. In the midst of the joy, I asked myself questions of a child thinking on raising a child: "What would my baby look like? How would I dress her?" (Having a boy didn’t cross my mind.) "What would I feed her, and where would we go? What would we play?"
As a teenager, I wondered what life looked like with children as I romanticized marriage, dreaming of all I thought it would be. And in some forms, unknowingly began a list of why I would or wouldn’t be a good candidate for both. I had a different list of questions: "Do I want to get married, and to whom? How do you know who to marry? Where will we live? How many children will we have?" Ah, the lists we make. Is anyone else a list maker?
I have carried lists with me for years without even knowing, but when I come across a list from years prior, do you want to know something? I have a huge issue with throwing it away. In the moment of decision, I find myself contemplating whether I did or did not accomplish that list, reminiscing or cringing on that time period in life, depending on it’s origin, and lastly deciding whether I should keep it as a reminder, because... "what if I forget?!" Recently, there was a list I found that crushed me.
Even as I write I struggle with the feeling that wells up in me. It was a list I made of what kind of mom I wanted to be. I scribed it during a period of time that I call “the trenches of life,” otherwise known as mothering 4 children under the age of 5. I was unknowingly also battling autoimmune disease and adrenal fatigue, therefore, I felt as if almost daily I was failing. However, I know many moms can relate without those two issues even added to the equation. In the words and wisdom of Tina Fey, “Being a mom has made me so tired. And so happy.”
One may wonder why this list plagues my heart in such a way. Was it not the progression of a childhood dream into a mother’s desires in an inevitable prose? In the moment, I likely felt it was just that. To be honest, I can not remember. What I do remember is the need and desire for change as I was struggling for order, rest, and identity, for... (speaking of lists) more reasons than I can list here and now.
If you're a mom, you know. If you're not a mom, you know. Because, let's be honest, we all wrestle with the desire for change and struggle of identity. These lists stack up whether in weight or in measure as we compare our faults with others, or inappropriately weigh them upon ourselves. Listen, I am not a moper. While I speak of the hardships, know there are immeasurable joys, and we are all different in our process of reconciling the lists we make and why we make them.
My particular list was a list I had decided was the measure of a good mom. Not only the mom I wanted to be, but the mom I thought I had to be or otherwise I would fail. Essentially, motherhood was an idol that was failing fast, as most idols do. So when I picked that list up and found myself still wanting and striving for the same ten things, minus two or three, I lost feeling and strength in my limbs. It was as if my body was responding to my soul as I melted, not once, but for the seventh time in seven years as I had picked that list up over and over again still crushed under its weight. Yet again, I was not enough.
This list was my written proof, almost a documented prophecy, that I would never match up! My biggest fear. How ironic. An intention to motivate instead threw me into an intense dark defeat, and it’s not because lists or goal setting is wrong. (In fact, I love the process. Find help with doing just that here.) It’s because, measuring your worth in it is. It may sound simple, and even foolish to admit or acknowledge to those untethered by the thought. Yet for those of us that feel "less than" on a consistent basis (which is more than many care to admit), it is key to find gratitude in our sameness, in the continual inevitable event of our measured state.
But find comfort in this, friends, our identity does not reside in our list making nor our ability to accomplish or succeed in the lists of the past, present or to come. From this we are freed, and ironically, our freedom has much to do with the acknowledgement of the very lists that we have made. And our blunder? To abandon rather than embrace the limits which we all know we possess. Because in this we are the same - our me becomes we, and you becomes us, and in this acknowledgment we can no longer lift up or put down the other for a quality we can all relate. We are measurable, and it's okay.
So, go ahead and tell me how to be a good mom in 8 days. Give me aaaallll the advice, and what I should and shouldn't do or who I should or shouldn't be. Take my personality test and weigh it. Create a vivid pictograph. Toss it up in the air, make paper airplanes for all I care. List my faults and nail them to the wall. Show me something the world should already know. I am measurable!
Therefore, as I reflect on this upcoming Mother's Day, with newfound gratitude of my measurable state, I write a new list.
Item one: Be.
Happy Mother's Day, to our measurable state,
Photos by HIVEhome team-member & visual storyteller, Jessica Collins of Jessica Collins Photography.
Editing, Layout + Publishing by the brilliant doer of all things, Andrea Haney.
Network support + life-long cheerleader , Carlotta Luster
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