To Love A Mom...

I never gave it much thought, really. Not until now with two children of my own sitting close to me on the floor, at the table, on the couch, everywhere. Always close. You were just there – the one I reached for throughout my day. The one I followed around with questions about my socks, a new word, or Saturn.

You were one of those people who was irreplaceable, but simultaneously dismissed as I went about my daily activities. If I close my eyes tightly and try to remember I can see shadows of activity in the background, assuring me of your presence while I am running through the sprinkler in the backyard, coloring at my 6th birthday party, and crocheting miles of asymmetrical scarves. But at the time I was too busy cartwheeling my way through the living room to notice how the hum of the washing machine kept rhythm with your footsteps throughout the house. And now, I am you. Mom.

"You never let on to the exhausting gamut of emotions you must have experienced throughout a single day."

It all seemed effortless then. Like my day just naturally wove together from breakfast to bedtime. When I think back, I don’t remember you whipping around the kitchen wishing you were anywhere but there. I don’t remember you letting on to the struggle of being a support-player in everyone’s lives – the person everyone desperately needs but unconsciously overlooks. I don’t recall exasperated sighs when I spilled juice all over the carpet, eye rolls when I flopped dramatically to the ground, or the deep groove of a furrowed brow that emerges over years of use. You never let on to the exhausting gamut of emotions you must have experienced throughout a single day.

Was it just easier when you were a mom?

If I had taken a moment I may have noticed the weariness in your eyes, or the slouch of your shoulders at 5:30pm when all of our lives collided at the dinner table. I probably wouldn’t have known what to do with that information back then, but now I feel like it would be a bit of a relief to know that my perception was not your reality.

Motherhood is one of those things that so many people experience. It is one of the most common roles that someone can find themselves in. And maybe it is that commonness that makes us get confused, simplifying it. Somehow we trick ourselves into thinking that if everyone is doing this then it must be easy. Regular. Something mastered and formulaic, like a math equation. A side note to the real challenges in life, rather than a focal point of continual thought, concern, and self-doubt.

<span "font-size:12.0pt;font-family:cambria;="" mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family:"MS="" 明朝";mso-fareast-theme-font:="" minor-fareast;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:"times="" roman";="" mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;mso-ansi-language:en-us;mso-fareast-language:="" en-us"="">But motherhood, as beautiful as it is, is hard. It is full of paradoxes that have to be navigated and negotiated: hold me, but don’t touch me; teach me, but don’t tell me what to do; help me, but don’t hover. You become so many different things to so many different people that you aren’t quite sure what you need in order to do a good job. You don’t even know how to define whether or not you are doing a good job, so you just keep working toward this hazy goal of being a “good mom.”

"Moms don't know what the need, they don't know if they are successful."

And so it’s hard to be around us. Moms don’t know what they need, they don’t know if they are successful. They appear confident, but aren’t really equipped to navigate the 500 different situations and decisions that occur in a single day. They appear ruffled one moment, and controlled and intentional another.

As Mother’s Day is approaching, here is the thing that she needs most: Love her. Love the confidence edged with insecurity, love the steadfastness, love the fear and determination in her eyes. Love the crazy that follows her around like a swarm of bees, love the disheveled hair, love the grumpy way she wakes up in the morning, knowing that she has no idea if what she’s doing is making a difference. Love the untitled google doc she calls a baby book. Love the old shoes and new hair. Love the absurd way she insists that everyone get dressed even when it’s a stay-at-home rainy day, love the burned food, and love her demands for alone time and resulting complaints of loneliness. Love the milk you find in the pantry. But most of all, love the way she loves her family. The way she loves you. Them.

And then everyone will remember back to “those days.” You know, the ones when motherhood was easy, children were laughing at the table, days were filled with intentional learning and fun, and family was both a noun and a verb. Your love will shape her memories, moving her attention from her inadequacies to the beauty of her family.
Jill tiptoed into motherhood 3 ½ years ago, leaving full-time work as a college administrator, career coach, and grant writer. She now spends her time “momming it up” with her two little sidekicks, Judah (3 1/2yrs) and Frances (3 months), and totally hit the jackpot with her software engineer studmuffin husband of 12 years. Most recently she has taken up educating people on and selling essential oils, which adds to her fairly eclectic but totally normal moonlighting roles of higher ed consultant, personality assessment trainer, and play-doh enthusiast.

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