I have been plotting and planning with a granddaughter about her dad’s birthday.
Thinking about his birthday led me in the opposite direction: toward mothering. His birth changed my life!
Surely that is normal.
Last week my hairdresser showed me a photo of her granddaughter with her best friend, holding their baby dolls they had to take care of for several days and nights. (Assignment from school.)
I just hooted! The photo said it all.
These girls carried their “babies” wherever they went: shopping, a restaurant, classes, on a bus. The girls even set alarms to wake them up in the night so they could feed, diaper, cuddle babies.
The photo reminded me of how troublesome, how consuming the mothering job is.
I applaud teachers for teaching what a big responsibility parenting is, to encourage teens to not go into motherhood lightly.
Mothering. Hardest job I ever had. Demanding. Fun. Exhausting. Sweet. Work.
It was via mothering that I learned responsibility, juggling, problem-solving. No teacher quite like this experience.
Mothering goes all the way back to Eve. Hard to believe that I had the same feelings as Eve, but you know I did.
No matter how our children turn out, it’s a big job, a juggling act.
My hat is always off to those mothers with children with disabilities. Oh my! What emotion. What love. What a job. (One of our granddaughters has autism. Never has it been easy for her parents.)
Most mothers do what they have to do. They hang on tight and slide and suffer and surrender and sacrifice if need be. I remember hearing one mother say, “Hey, I’m a mother lion when it comes to my kids…” Yep, that’s how we do it.
As the oldest girl in a large family, I learned a little about “mothering” at an early age. I had brothers and sisters. Sometimes they needed me to love and mother them. Not always what I, as a teen, wanted to do.
Always, mothering seems to be a mixed bag.
It was full of Joy, and I don’t mean crumbs of joy. Mothering was full of joy. But then, mothering was scary with doubts, too. I was always wondering if I’d done or said the right thing.
I finally decided if I’d done the best I knew to do with the knowledge I had at that time, it was enough. If not, I needed to ask for forgiveness. (The Holy Spirit had to have been the revealer of such wisdom at my young age.)
Babies don’t come with a manual. Didn’t we all long for a manual that answered our questions?
I was an older mom. I had children when I was 30 and 33. Probably waited those eight years because I knew it was going to be a tough job.
My career in those days was teaching and I loved it, but I wanted children, too.
Maybe those of us who became mothers (by giving birth, by adopting, by volunteering, step-parenting, however) were “called” into motherhood, hopefully at a good time.
I like thinking of it as “a calling.”
When I had my first boy, I knew I wanted to do the best job I could do.
I heard about parenting classes. A God thing, for sure. I’d never even heard of them before!
Classes. What a gift to myself! To my baby!
Parenting classes helped this mother grow more confident. The hardest job in the land was still the hardest job in the land, and I still messed up here and there, but something was clicking right.
I probably grew a bigger heart after children came into my world.
I am thankful for my children, for God helping me walk through those mothering years.
I love the closing lines from “Father’s Song” by Gregory Orr: I try to teach her [his child] caution; / she tries to teach me risk.
Happy Thanksgiving to all mothers everywhere,
P.S. Comment section: It’s below the photo. Always happy to hear from you.
Photo taken by Mindy Perry of two teens with “babies” in Mountain Home, Arkansas, November, 2017.