Mom, You’re More Than Your Mistakes
I think us moms, or us women, honestly just us humans can be our own worst enemy. Our own voice can be the loudest critic ringing in our ears.
Life is too short to continue to carry the heavy mill stone of shame and regret. We all mess up- it is part of being human. Perfection is never attainable.
So today on your birthday I pray for freedom. Freedom from believing the lies that you are your mistakes. You are so much more. Today is a good day to celebrate all that is good. Today is a day to share the divine light and love I see in you.
This post developed after the text I sent you this morning. So I want to honor you publicly and I also believe there are mamas out there living stuck in their past mistakes even if those mess ups were just 30 minutes ago during the chaos of trying to get these little beings out the door on time. May these words bless you and anyone else that may need the reminder of their worth.
Some of my fav parts of me as a mom are inspired by you:
- I’m silly (though my kiddos don’t seem to appreciate my sweet dance moves). I do silly voices with puppets. I am not afraid to be goofy like place a discarded fake eyelash (from my freshmen daughter) in the middle of my forehead until she notices it after talking to her. I’m not gonna lie- I delight in the belabored “MOM!!!!!” Or purposely placing a cilantro leaf on my tooth and still keep talking at the dinner table. A fav thing that never gets old to me but so old to my kids.
- I’m hilarious- well I laugh loudest at my own jokes. I’m a prankster at heart. As the oldest I was terrible to my siblings just for a laugh. Like telling my sister she was adopted or my brother that he was hatched from an egg or only speaking Spanish to my toddler sister. Or I’d say, “Oh, sweetie, are you lost? Let’s find your family”. I recall an epic saga of me convincing all the younger neighbor kids that I had a twin that lived under our house. Was it my fault they had not developed rational minds yet that would have figured out that our triple wide mobile home was up on metal jacks and we did not have a basement? So my humor has not gone as dark with my kids but the thought of jumping out and scaring them still causes laughter as I type this. I do less of that now fearing they will return the favor and I will have a legit heart attack. But the deep desire to jump out and terrify them for my enjoyment is still there.
- I’m the snack queen. I rarely leave my home without something to ward off the hangry energy of our 7 year old. My van is stocked with a bin for munchies of all 4 of my kids plus hubby who might need something. I remember your fully stocked Jafra (80’s makeup company) bag at the community trailer park pool and the nearby parks.
- I’m a hostess with the mostest with neighbor kids. I delight in providing an impromptu picnic of Mac and cheese and Sprite in fancy wine glasses. I remember you coming to feed us kids with a tray of popsicles and other assortment of snacks.
- The legacy of bedtime stories: a heritage of reading has been passed down to the next generation. We love books. Hannah was huge (still is) into Harry Potter so we are listened or read all those massive books. She is now in an honors program centered on classic literature. You and dad passed down a love of books. I remember seeing westerns, Lord of the Rings on his shelf. I never got to talk books with dad since he passed away when I was 20 and before I really, really became a book nerd. I do remember dad mostly falling asleep as he read bedtime stories to us.
- The love of books: I loved the Disney and Dr. Seuss books you ordered and had stocked in our mini library at the end of the hall of our triple wide. I loved sorting them and that is still a thing I geek out over. My youngest now comes home with the Scholastic book orders and I get giddy delight ordering him some books just like you always did for me. My books now are some of my most treasured possessions.
- Hospitality: You and dad taught me that with all the different people we had living with us.
- I’m a minivan driving soccer mom: You juggled so many practices and games of various kids with 5 kids in tow. You had no minivan but it was the 80s so we all just crammed into our brown pinto usually with a few neighbor kids.
- The more the merrier mentality: I got that from you. There was always so many kids at our house whether it was just neighbor kids or kids you were paid to babysit. I now feel things are better/more fun and actually easier with the more kids that are over.
- I’ve created a cozy home with many of the knitted blankets you’ve made for us.
- Homemade dinners: I loved coming in from playing smelling food cooking. Some of my favorites: sloppy joes, Johnny Dish (shepherds pie is what I later found out others called it), beef stroganoff and won tons!!!! My family is too particular for these but I loved the variety you provided.
- Kids pictures on the walls. I love seeing my family on display.
- I love kids art like cats love cat nip. (inspired from a Bob’s Burgers quote). You saved so much of ours.
- My love of flowers. I now want to fill my yard with roses so I can have cut flowers throughout my home.
- My hippiness I got from you. I love to recycle and compost. My kids now are not litter bugs because you taught us to pick up after ourselves.
- Your self-awareness: You own your mistakes. I have a friend who til this day has not heard “I’m sorry” from her mother. I also have a loved one whose mother takes zero ownership of her wrong doing but lives in a state of victim mindset and denial. Both cases are likely just living out from unprocessed trauma which has developed into mental illness.
- My preserving spirit. You had plenty of reasons to check out of this life permanently but you didn’t. You were 10 years younger than me with an extra kid when you found out your husband/my dad got the news that he had 5 years to live due to hepatitis C from a dirty needle. Us kids were ages: 14, 12, 10, 4 and 2!!!! What trauma!!!
- Your love of the holidays- I now enjoy making memories with and for the kids. You sewed homemade costumes. I remember one year you made Tweety bird for Amy and Sylvester the Cat for Scott. I distinct memory: I could not bear to wear his cat mask because it stunk of slobber since he had a drooling problem in those early years. Christmas at our house was cuckoo crazy with a mountain of gifts Christmas morning.
- the legacy of prayer: I love to pray and I believe I inherited that from you.
To be honest my younger self was way more self righteous and judgmental. In my own hurts I could not see what you were dealing with. But now as a mom of 4 I am certain that momming is the hardest job on the face of the planet. And that struggle has softened me to see you as a fellow mom. I can now see a little bit more clearer of the various traumas that you and dad went through as kids and brought into adulthood. My own suffering as a parent helps me better see another’s suffering. As much as suffering sucks and none of us would willingly sign up for- there are gifts to be gained from suffering. I think one of the most beautiful gifts of suffering is a greater capacity for compassion for others who too have walked that same road of suffering. The various heavy things we go through provide an opportunity for us to become better or bitter. Suffering allows us to better see another human being in their own suffering. As a daughter of addicts I now have a soft place for kids with addicted parents hence our desire to become foster parents. But my friend who is now 14 years clean has an even greater capacity for addicts because she has suffered through addiction. She has gifts she can offer the world that I cannot. She offers them understanding and a grace that only she can know.
I think about how very hard motherhood is and the struggle it is even with an amazing, supportive husband. I think about how mothering has exposed the ugliest parts of me, the parts that need to be refined. I joke but am also dead serious that being a mom is the number one thing in my life that has refined me and shaped me as a human. The next is being a wife and dog owner is a close third. All these things are good and beautiful but not easy at all. They are the forces in my life that challenge me and make me a better person.
So mom I think of you essentially doing so much of this parenting alone. Dad was so busy working/trying to provide financially and also stuck in his own addictions/traumas that it was hard for him to see his own needs or yours. I think how Jeremy is such an epic partner in life and sees me and my struggle. He comes alongside me and supports me. He knows when I am not doing well. He knows if I am not doing well then this whole ship will suffer. He does whatever he needs to help buoy me up when I feel like I am drowning and can barely keep my head up above water. He steps in and takes on even more on his plate so I can feel lighter. He sends me away to Montana for a week long restoration retreat when he sees mothering/fostering has gotten too heavy. He not only steps in when things are dire but he is fully present all the time as an equal partner. He is not a man of earlier generations that did not change diapers, do laundry/dishes etc. He gets dirty on all the levels. We function as a beautiful team. He speaks words of life and encouragement over me. He wooes me with trips to Disneyland, Italy and 24 hour retreats to the beach. He sees me desire for more family time and gets me a camper for my birthday.
So I think of all this amazing support and it is still the HARDEST job on the face of the planet. So as I think of my struggle and then realize yours was even greater.
Each of us 6 kids had a different childhood. We saw different things. We experienced different things. It makes sense that by kiddo #6 there was less holiday hooray. But the cool thing is that we were moms at the same time so my oldest and your youngest are only 2 years apart. So I feel blessed that she got to join us in holiday hooray with trick or treating etc. It makes total sense that there was not the same energy for me that there was for number 6. At that point in life you would have already endured decades of being virtually unseen in your marriages. I don’t fault you for being weary and feeling desperate to cling to things that helped you survive even though they did not help you thrive. But it makes sense. I have not walked in your worn shoes so I can not stand in judgement.
And to be fair you had so much of your own childhood trauma that you came into motherhood with. My oldest is 19 now. You were 19 when you eloped across the country and had me with dad. You started your motherhood journey addicted and married to an addict. I cannot fathom that struggle. But we are all doing well. You have 6 solid kiddos who are living healthy lives. We are all just trying to do our best. I have a framed quote that I love: We’re all just walking each other home.
I love you and thank you for helping me be the mom and woman I am.