The Best Advice My Mom Ever Gave Me...

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This month we celebrate motherhood in every form.  Today, I'll begin with the best advice my mom gave me as I began my motherhood journey 16 years ago...

I’ll be honest.  I’m a woman who said, “I’ll never have kids”.  The concept of motherhood never appealed to me.  It wasn’t because I disliked kids but I knew how hard motherhood would be.  I watched my mom do it and said to myself, “Nope, I don’t want any parts of that motherhood thing!”   Motherhood scared the hell out of me.  The idea of holding the future in my arms and being responsible for nurturing and molding a little person terrified me. I felt I’d never be ready for that responsibility.  So in September 2001 when I learned I was pregnant with my first child, I freaked out.  I mean literally freaked out.  I cried hysterically.  I was dumbfounded that antibiotics I had been taken could weaken my birth control.  I remember how upset my then husband was at my reaction to my pregnancy.  He couldn’t understand why I wasn’t overwhelmed with tears of joy.  After all, we were married, on good financial ground and at the time, deeply in love.   What is wrong with you? he asked me angrily.  How could you tell me you were pregnant….LIKE THAT?   He didn’t get it…I was terrified because I knew my life would never be the same.

I knew exactly what kind of mother I wanted to be.  I had the perfect example of motherhood in my own family in my mom, grandmother and great-grandmother.  They were superheroes in my eyes.  Would I be capable of doing what they did?  Would I be capable of unconditional love, compassion and empathy like my mom? Would I be able to balance it all?  Sleep? Would I ever sleep again? Stretch marks?  Oh Lord No!!!  What kind of kids would I have? Would they confide in me, would they pursue a life of excellence? Would they become good people with good hearts? What kind of children would I be able to raise? My pregnancy made me think of every character flaw I had and over analyze them all. I had to be perfect in order to raise perfect children right?  How would I deal with a child who does something that upsets me or breaks my heart...and the money…how much does this motherhood thing cost?   I was terrorizing myself asking a million questions.  I spent the next nine months trying to prepare myself.  I read every book, watched every baby show, went to every pre-natal appointment with a list of questions and created the safest, most amazing, Thomas the Train nursery. I followed the “What to expect when you are expecting” book like it was the bible and my husband and I bought the best, the newest, and most technologically advanced baby equipment we could afford.

AND WHERE WAS MY OWN MOM DURING THIS TIME?

…she was right by my side…laughing hysterically

My mom knew what I couldn’t comprehend at the time…NOTHING prepares you for motherhood! NOTHING!  The one piece of wisdom my mother told me was this…

“MOTHERHOOD WILL TEACH YOU HOW TO PRAY”

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The day I gave birth to my son was the day I learned how much love I had inside of me.  I knew this child.  We had nine months to get acquainted and from the moment my ex-husband cut the cord and placed him in my arms, my heart opened in ways I never knew it could.  I couldn’t stop looking at him and weeping.  He was beautiful and perfect in every way.   He never cried…he just gripped my finger in a way that let me know he knew who I was…and just like that…

My Motherhood Journey Began…

My mom was right. Nothing prepared me for this.  I was madly in love with this little person, exhausted, and my body was completely thrown out of whack.  My son was in my thoughts constantly.  I was learning him and his little personality.  Sometimes I’d have him in bed with me and we would just lay there for hours staring at one another.  Other days we would cry together in the rocking chair because I was feeling overwhelmed and inadequate and he was frustrated.  Over the next four years, my then husband and I would grow our family by two, adding a beautiful girl and another handsome boy to our family. The girl who never wanted kids now had three.  My capacity to love grew threefold.  Motherhood changed my life, my focus and direction.   AND….my mom was right.

MOTHERHOOD TAUGHT ME HOW TO PRAY

it taught me how to pray when my marriage fell apart and I began raising them on my own as a single mom.

…it taught me to pray for guidance and direction when my life was in turmoil and disarray.

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…it taught me to pray for a breakthrough when I didn’t know how to make ends meet when I was unemployed

…it taught me to pray my way through my youngest son’s school challenges

…it taught me how to pray to find the words to explain their father’s absence.

…it taught me how to pray and trust my children would be able to stay in the schools they worked so hard to get into when I couldn’t figure out how tuition would be paid.

...it taught me to pray for guidance and discernment when finding a daycare because I had to go back to work to provide for my family

…it taught me to pray and say thank you for the incredible family and village I have

…I learned to pray and give thanks for every moment I’m given to watch my children thrive

…it taught me to pray when I’ve questioned whether or not I’m doing enough for my children.

…it taught me to pray when I’ve felt like a failure for not being perfect.

My motherhood journey has revealed more about myself and what I was capable of.  I was blessed with three amazing children whose lives I help shape.  My kids are older now, 16, 13, and 11 and as I look at them I realize the power of a praying mother.   I didn’t know how I was going to survive when my marriage ended.  I was at rock bottom in every way you could imagine; starting over with literally nothing.  They were 1, 3 and 5.  I thought my life was over and I’d never be able to do this alone.  The tears I cried were frequent.   I had many an argument with God during my prayer time.   Sometimes I’ve had to pray the frustration right out of me. 

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I realized there was no perfect mom and I’ve been all of them; married working mom, married stay at home mom, divorced mom, single unemployed mom, and single working mom and they have all challenged me and strengthened me  in different ways.  My children have taught me so much more about myself and life through their eyes.  Like every mom I know, I’ve struggled with “supermom” syndrome, “working mom guilt”, “divorced mom guilt”, and/or “single mom guilt”.  It’s such a shame we put such ridiculous expectations on mothers who are simply human.  We pit moms against each other as if one is better than the other.  We are all out here doing the best we can, figuring it out as we go.   I’ve had to learn that I’m enough, no matter what society says about motherhood.   I’ve learned there isn’t one way to love and parent a child and my heart is capable of loving in ways I never expected.  I learned its ok to ask for help because this motherhood thing can be challenging and we all need support and encouragement.  I don’t profess to be the most spiritual person or even church going (that’s another blog post) but prayer is the most important thing I do every day.   I pray when times are good and when times are challenging.  I  pray and pray often because it helps me to remain focused, strong,  hopeful and grateful; necessities for raising children and being the kind of mother I’ve always wanted to be.  Prayer helps me when I can’t see the forest for the trees. 

I see God’s faithfulness every time I look into my children’s eyes; I see his faithfulness through my kids’ accomplishments and victories.  I see his faithfulness when we are able to move through financial challenges and struggles as a family and come out on the other side.  Prayer reminds me that I even when I’m at my weakest, I’m still a mom who rocks! I’m still a mom doing my best and I’m still raising some outstanding children!  .  It’s made all the difference in my life and the lives of my children. 

My mom, as usual, was right….MOTHERHOOD TAUGHT ME TO PRAY

What's the best advice your mom ever gave you about motherhood?