I think that in the heart of every mom is a place (some bigger than others) where she just wants to feel as though she’s like every other mom. Normal. The same. Healthy. Whatever you wish to call it. It's the feeling that you get when you want to know you're doing a decent job. Sure, your kids are alive, but are they actually thriving? Is it
It’s a feeling that we as humans feel, to some degree or another, throughout our life. Checks and balances. Am I doing what every other person seems to be doing? Am I doing it right? Am I sticking out? Does this feel authentic? There is a time and place for sticking out, I should know. But, the truth is, when it comes to mothering… there is a good way to stick out and a not so good way to stick out. I can manage both pretty well. Good, in that I feel I do a heck of a job teaching Chloe how to communicate well and be a fun toddler instead of a nightmare toddler. Bad, in that I listen to Miley Cyrus (oh, get over yourself) too much. But, here’s the deal. Most of the time, even I just want my mothering style to fit in.
So, here’s the deal. This morning I took Chloe to my MOPS meeting with me. Why is this news worthy? Because Chloe has never been watched by anyone other than family. Ever. Why? Because we’re fortunate enough to have all of our family in town and I’m fortunate enough to work part-time. Plus, my mother is God sent. Truly. So, today was a big deal for me.
I chose to take her with me for several reasons. 1. I assume she is getting to the age where she would enjoy socializing with little people her age (which is true) 2. It would give my mom a break (even though she has never asked for one) and 3. I wanted to be like everyone else in MOPS that drops their kiddos off with snacks and smiles to play in the church nursery until our meeting is over. It seemed legit and normal and a good idea. And legit is good.
And please don’t misunderstand me. It IS a good idea, it’s a GREAT idea. MOPPETS (as the kiddos are called) is a really amazing community of moms/helpers who volunteer their time to watch our little ones while we enjoy fellowship, food and friends. So, the problem is only with me, not anything else.
Here’s the problem. I’m a spoiled rotten mom. It’s not that I love my child any more than others. It’s not that my child is better than others (okay, maybe a little). It’s that I’m SPOILED ROTTEN. For those of you that know me, you probably aren’t very surprised at this point. Dropping off Chloe (to a complete stranger) was rough. As it is for any mom. But all I could keep thinking is that this very kind person doesn’t know that Chloe likes ice in her ‘agua’ or that she enjoys talking on random objects that she knows is really a ‘phone’ to a 4 year old girl named Addy that she doesn’t really know and lives in NC, or that she likes to Eskimo kiss every 14 seconds. Or that you need to sing the ABC’s, but let her sing the letters C, G, P, V, and Z. Or that she enjoys wearing a bow for a moment and then wants to hold it for the rest of the day. Or that she likes to growl like the Lion on Baby Einstein and for you to pretend to be scared.
But, as I walked away from her in that tiny little room and up the stairs for my meeting, I let all that go. I realize that’s normal to feel that way and I wanted very badly for her to enjoy her playtime, so that all my worries were swept away. I wanted to let her be Chloe.
So, at the end of the meeting I went back to the nursery to pick her up. I was met by a stroller (for 8 kiddos) in the hallway filled with 3 screaming babies and my little girl with big red eyes (and a scratched eye lid, but those things happen). She looked up and me and said “mama” with outstretched arms and a very pathetically sad face. Perhaps she practiced it, because she is, after all, my child. I don’t care either way. She could have easily won an academy award. I literally died inside. I picked her up and she just melted into my arms. The teachers said she did great but was bored (being one of the older kiddos in the group) and seemed to get upset when another little boy starting crying. Then, as I was leaving they mentioned that every time she went to the door, she would call for me. Excellent. I’ll just leave the knife in my chest, thanks.
But as I walked to the car, I told myself that she was fine. She survived and I survived. Now I was normal. Phew. A normal mom who enjoyed the time away. But, I didn’t feel good about it. Why? It wasn’t MY normal. And the interesting thing was that our devotional today was about just that.
Mothering with Grace. Mothering your children in a way that only you can do; in a way that only YOU were made for.
This spoke to me for several reasons. 1. My normal doesn’t fit for everyone. I’m loud, my child is loud and my household is more than some people can probably stand. I let Chloe defrost more food than should be allowed for the sake of play. (She is currently eating frozen green beans out of the bag…hmm…that can’t be good). I encourage her to dance around the room to Robin Thicke in the mornings for exercise. 2. It’s okay when something doesn’t fit. Live the life you want to live. Be the parent you want to be. God has great plans (especially since 99.9% of the time they are not mine). This all sounds nice, but the truth is today was a small little thing but a big lesson for me. I have to just be Chloe’s mom and not the mom I think I need to be for whatever stupid reason.
Again, I’m incredibly fortunate in that I can CHOOSE to keep my kiddo at home because I have my selfless mother right down the street. I know that privilege. But, I also realize that it’s a HUGE privilege to be able to choose between that and an amazing church nursery. What I realized today is that it’s just not for me. I also learned today that God will prepare me in due time for the first day of school. (And Lord knows we have some work to do).
But, the truth is Chloe is 21 months old. She’s teetering on toddlerhood, but the truth is she’s MY tiny, little (9 lb) baby. She won’t remember this experience or ever know the difference between staying at home and going to MOPPETS. But, what I hope she will know and experience one day is the gift of choice and Mothering with Grace. Or, as I like to call it, Mothering with God and Robin Thicke on your side.