I ran across this podcast today and I haven’t stopped thinking about it because there was so much that rang true to me. The title is New Hope for Moms Who Won’t Give Up, with special speaker (author & mom) Sarah Parshall Perry. This lady had me laughing, nodding in agreement and wanting to basically jot down her entire podcast because so much of what she shared were thoughts/feelings/emotions I have felt.
These are just a few of her topics that hit closest to my heart…
1) Trying to find stories about other moms that had families later in life.
Me! We had Celeste when I was 36 and then Elysse came just ONE MONTH before I turned 40. Just like the author, I thought I was prepared for motherhood and boy was I wrong. I was not prepared and the entire journey has taken me by surprise. Even to this day, there are still so many moments that throw me for a loop. Like the author, although I didn’t have some high profile attorney career, I had my job, my routine/schedule carefully laid out and I felt extremely capable of handling whatever came my way in life or at work. I had meticulous memory and great attention to detail. I loved (still do) having things under control. Life before children was full but I knew how to handle it. I had gained the tools from the experiences in my 20’s to 30’s to be able to handle whatever came my way. Why would I think that parenting would be any different? Because I was naive and didn’t know better. Perry says parenting is the one profession ‘you cannot prepare by reading or studying, it must be experienced to become proficient”. And don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE to read books on parenting and I think they can provide some really helpful tools that can be used in parenting, but that doesn’t take away the fact that in parenting, no amount of reading can prepare you for some of the curve balls, or that how you think you will react to a given situation completely changes when you are in the midst of said situation because of so many other outside factors out of your control. Not to mention the personality and reaction of your little one.
2) How to value what you’re doing
Where to even begin with this one. It’s true, when you become a mother, so many of the repetitive mundane tasks you do day in and day out go completely unnoticed or unappreciated. And it’s hard, like Perry said, to not stop and wonder…what is this all for? To feel exhausted and thinking that what you’re doing is fruitless. How do you place value on it though? Like Perry says, there are no accolades…and yet, parenting is for sure the most important job I will ever have. And it requires faith and trust, and for me, it took quite a long time to realize that nothing else I do in life will ever be as important as being the best mom I can be for these two little girls. Certainly no job will ever measure up to the most important role God has entrusted me with. And the speaker says, God seems to know when we need those little bonuses, where our children remind us of how truly special our role is and that those repetitive things we are doing which we think are going unnoticed, and see that the value lies in those little people and what we will see them become in the future. Let me share with you an experience of how I saw the “glorious hard work of motherhood shine through my daughter’s actions”.
A couple nights ago I had come home from dance class with both girls and after feeding the girls, prepping their school lunches, and picking up some dishes, I was giving Elysse a bath. During all this I’m looking at the clock and watching it get closer and closer to bedtime. When I finished giving Elysse her shower and I walked her out of the bathroom, I happened to glance towards the kitchen and saw that Celeste was standing on our stepping stool over the kitchen sink, but didn’t stop to ask what she was doing because I wanted to get Elysse finished up. I was almost done and Celeste came over to me and said she had a surprise for me in the kitchen. Nothing could have prepared me for what she had done. She guided me to this note she had left:
Guys, I can’t even tell you, this put a knot in my throat. It was the bonus I needed, the reminder that all those little things I am doing, they are not for nothing. They are for this, for these glimpses into my daughter’s heart. It wasn’t the fact she had washed the remaining dishes in the sink, which I was immensely proud and thankful for, it was the gesture and the note that showed me her thoughtfulness. Her kind heart. It came out of her to be helpful and to leave me that note which not only expressed her love for me, it also expressed her hope that I would like that she had done the dishes… that was better than any gift. It was my bonus, the reminder that those repetitive things I feel I’m sometimes doing, those tired moments…they mean something much greater than I can imagine.
3) What if though you are the mom that feels isolated and bitter in your role as a mom?
Perry says something I wish I had heard in my initial years of motherhood, when I did have moments that I felt isolated and like there was no value in all that I was doing. She says to have an eye towards the future, “what you’re doing now will not always result in immediate payoff.” I like that she says it takes seeing the transition as a future pay off. Because you realize that there is value in what you’re doing, if not at the present moment, you will see it in the future or in those bonus moments where your child suddenly says to you you’re the best mom or how very much they love you. Because Perry makes a great point, for those of us that have children, we get to experience motherhood. Sure, that means we need to leave our selfish nature behind, but there are so many women that don’t get that opportunity to be a mom even though they desire it with all their heart. That perspective changes the “temporary uncomfortableness to a feeling of gratitude.”
4) Perry’s talk about mean moms.
This one is all about moms that shame each other. Phew! She made such a great point, that as women we all experience different journeys and life experiences and then we “experience something that we all have in common: motherhood.” And suddenly when we all become grouped into this one thing, we become critiques of who is doing it right and who is blowing it, even though we are all in the same boat, just trying to do the best job we can as a mother. And we are all making mistakes and we are all rocking it at motherhood. I’m struggling with motherhood just as much as the next person and feeling insecure at some moments and at others I am thinking “dang I’ve owning this being a mom role.”
5. Laughter and light heartedness.
I think this is one of the areas I sometimes find myself struggling with. Because sometimes I can become so focus driven to accomplish all the tasks I’ve set up for myself for that day and I forget to look at the joy in the moments, even when it’s a messy moment, and to just laugh and not take every moment so seriously. It’s something I am making sure I am more aware of doing – allowing that lightheartedness to travel through me. Like the speaker, I think it’s in my nature to not have patience in myself. And there are times I have to make very conscious efforts to pause and take my time. To let things go and realize, if I get it done great, if not, it will still be there tomorrow.
Maybe some or none of this will touch a spot in your heart. If you’re a mama needing to feel some encouragement and be reminded that your role is immensely valuable, even if at the present moment you’re not seeing that, this podcast may just be what you need to hear. I hope you can find joy in the knowledge that there is intrinsic value in the things you do every day and there is proof in that you have those beautiful little people entrusted to your care, love, and guidance.
For my girls…