I am not my mom.
This of course is a very obvious sentiment and not one that should catch me by surprise.
And yet it does. Often.
It is a sentiment that would, perhaps, make me feel great if my mom were less than stellar. Except she’s not. (And for the record…. I am thankful that is not the case.)
The truth is my mom is amazing.
I remember being in Jr. High. My face was often broken out (Arbonne — where were you when I needed you??) and I constantly felt self-conscious whenever I was in public. We were a pretty normal, middle-class family … never one to be crazy in style (but then again, in-style really wasn’t a THING to be in Cheyenne, Wyoming.) Our house may have had dated furniture … But it was perfectly clean, orderly and full of amazing food.
It was my haven.
And to a girl who often felt self-conscious, socially awkward, and never felt “enough” amongst her peers at school … A haven was exactly what I needed.
A place where I could just be me … Zits and all … And feel loved and secure.
I remember a particularly cold and blustery day. And by blustery, I mean the wind could almost knock me over…
When I arrived on the steps of my mid-west style home, I felt battered — inside and out.
I remember sealing out the cold, hard world as I closed the front door behind me. Taking a deep breath as the aroma of fresh baked bread wafted from the kitchen. The warmth of the home enveloped me.
I was HOME.
My mom was home too. Always ready to talk. (Or listen, as was often the case). Always ready with some sort of yummy snack for after school. Just always ready and prepared for anything really.
And then, there’s now.
There’s me, all grown up with a home of my own and little kids and a husband. People to whom I long to give warmth, and loving, and security. People I hope to give a haven.
My current home with my little family has a lot in common with my house growing up. (And by that, of course, I mean a lot of dated furniture).
The rest, sadly, is far cry from what I grew up in.
Between 3 kids, running a business, writing a blog, going to women’s groups, play groups, the kid’s appointnents, my medical appointments, I struggle to juggle it all.
I don’t remember seeing my mom struggle, except for once when she went back to work full-time. She never eased up on herself, and everything was the same as it was… House always clean, meals always home-cooked. Except I remember seeing my mom cry more during that time.
As a wife and mom myself, you can always see the fallout of my busy schedule on my home. Dishes pile more quickly than I can load them. Laundry overtakes my living room for days (maybe occasionally a week) at a time. Laundry baskets full of clean clothes that never once see the inside of the closet or dressers pile around my room.
There are two bathrooms in my home that I forget need to be cleaned because I never use them. (Please don’t ever use them when you come over.)
And then there’s cooking.
My mom never made us fend for ourselves for dinner. I mean, sure, we had to make our own lunches for school. We had plenty of nights that were leftover nights. But never can I remember my mom saying, “I have no idea what’s for dinner. Either we do peanut butter and jelly, or we order pizza.”
(This, by the way, has been said in my home far too many times.)
Or, “Hey, Ryan, I’m leaving!”
“Ok,” he says. “What should I feed the kids?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” I apologetically reply. “I’m sure you can figure something out.”
Never would these words leave my mom’s mouth.
And so .. I am not the mom my mom is.
It has taken me a long time to take the judgment out of this comparison. To realize that my own gifts as a mom differ than my mom’s gifts. Our shortcomings are equally different.
I have the gift of writing and speaking emotions … My mom has the gift of listening to them.
I have the gift of hugging, kissing, holding hands, and snuggling till we at fast asleep curled up under the covers of my little one’s bed. My mom has the gift of covering us with prayer.
I have the gift of doing fun, spontaneous, and often impractical things with my kids. Like late-night pajama dates to Barmes & Noble. My mom has the gift of steady, consistent, practical routines.
I have the gift of silliness. Of wrestling on floors, of playing baby octopus, of singing songs in the car and in the grocery store.
My mom has the gift of readiness. If you need a meal, she’ll have 3 prepared in the freezer for a rainy day. If you need a band-aid, or a Tylenol, of a flashlight… She will have everything you need, perfectly organized in her compact little purse.
(Please don’t ask me what is in my purse, or how it is organized. I really don’t think you want to know.)
I have an active social life. All of my days look different. I work alongside being a mom. I foster a baby. I have dreams of writing and speaking and changing the world. I hope to challenge my own children to change the world too.
My mom, on the other hand, prefers a quiet and peaceful night at home. Her days flex as needed, but she doesn’t find the same old the same old. She found so much fulfillment in lovingly taking care of not only her husband and children … But also every one of our friends who came to our house. She had dreams of nurturing kids that would follow God’s footsteps and be faithful. Just as she has been.
There are so many ways that I AM like my mom. We have the same frame, same skin, same hair texture, same ability to get hurt on practically nothing, and same sensitive spirit. We pretty much share a birthday.
But my style of mothering is not at all the same. And I hope (and at times desperately pray) that God has given both her and me each the gifts (and weaknesses) we need to be a mom for our own kids.
Looking back, I can see how my little anxiety-prone, OCD-driven personality needed the clean, clutter-free home that was consistent and reliable. It got me through the many cross-country moves I endured as a military child.
And I think and hope and pray that my emotional, fanciful, affectionate and silly self now helps create a haven my own beautiful children need.
Sure, they may have to step over some laundry to get there.
But this mama is here, arms open, ready to embrace my kids (and maybe smother them with kisses), and let them know that I cherish them, I believe in them, and they are worth it.
I may not be the mom my mom is.
But I am the mom God thought my kids needed.
And that is all I really need to be.