A couple of weeks ago I got schooled on motherhood. By a fictitious, non-mother person. It all started when I spent a week full of rehearsals and performances of the Broadway version of Mary Poppins.
Now, once I had my first child, I vowed to never take mothering advice from a person who isn’t a mother. Because until you are one, you really do have nothing to offer to me on how to parent my children. Obviously. (I need a sarcasm font to show you the true meaning of that previous sentence.) And then I had a second child and decided that should also include moms of only one child, because they have no idea what it’s like to mother more than one babe.
As I’ve aged, I’ve learned that both of those “vows” are incorrect in their assumptions. Just because someone is a mother of two doesn’t mean that they will have meaningful advice on mothering that I need to hear. And just because someone has never had children of their own doesn’t mean I need to assume they have nothing to teach me about mothering. In fact, I know some absolutely amazing women who have never married or had children of their own who have mothered many, MANY children. And mothered them well, I might add.
Now, back to Mary Poppins. After over a week of rehearsals and performances I feel like we’re tight. Heh. So without further ado…
1. In every job that must be done there is an element of fun.
Laundry. Dishes. Mopping. Cleaning the bathroom. I hate them all. My life is a drudgery. Well…that’s an exaggeration. As a mom, I have a lot of chores, and I want my children to know that they can and will be doing those things themselves for themselves one day. If I paint those jobs as drudgeries, they are going to resent them and I’ll be dragging them by their toenails to get them to pull their own weight around the house.
For me, making those jobs less of a drudgery means finding reasons to be thankful in the midst of them. We have clothes to wear, food to eat, floors not made of dirt and running water. This means by the world’s standards we are wealthy. For my children, it might mean finding a way to turn a chore into a game or a challenge. Setting a timer and seeing who can find 10 things to put away and return them to their spots first. What ways have you found to make chores around your house fun?
2. Anything can happen if you let it.
I’m a practical gal. I’m not a pessimist, looking for the worst in a situation. I’m just more of a realist. As such, I tend to discount things that just look too good to be true. I’ve never been a big dreamer. When I went off to college I majored in Accounting because I thought it was a practical major that would work better for real life. Following my passion for music was just silly and would end up with me teaching music in some tiny, podunk school and I wasn’t going to settle for that.
And do you know what? I’ve found myself dreaming small and practical for my kids, too. Of course I’m a good mom and have told them they can be anything they want to be, that anything is possible, but I still look at their passions and dream small for them. Sometimes my children need me to look at them and say “Anything can happen if you let it!” You want to be an astronaut or a famous YouTuber? What an amazing job that would be! I totally believe that could be possible for you! You want to be an app designer? Here’s a book! Go learn it!
As a mom, who am I to limit my children, or tell them that they can’t do something wonderful and extraordinary with their lives?
3. Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
I’m talking about more than just having the pharmaceutical tech add bubblegum flavoring to the nasty antibiotic before you try to force it down your two year old’s throat. Because yeah…I’ve done that before and sometimes there’s just no covering up a nasty flavored medicine.
We all have to accept the consequences for our actions. When we take a risk it might not end happily. But we CAN find the positives even in the end of a tough break. And when I do that, even though I know it will be hard for them, my kids will usually follow my lead and look at it in the same light. But if I present in a negative light, and tell them that it wasn’t worth it, that it was a dismal failure…well, duh…they are going to see it the same way. I have found this to be an even more important thing to remember as my children have become teens and tweens.
I want my children to take risks and to try new things, hard things. I want them to embrace challenges! So I need to remember to show them and tell them how those opportunities can be fun, even if they are tough.
4. I’m practically perfect in every way.
Now of course, I’m not perfect. Nobody is. But there’s a reason these two children of mine were given to me to mother. With God’s help I can be exactly the mom that these children need. They weren’t just given to me by accident.
There are times at the end of the day when I’ve had a meltdown as a mom or engaged in an argument with one of them at the basest level of my intellectual abilities. (Think…”I know you are but what am I.”) It has become increasingly difficult to refrain from those tart comments as my children have mastered the art of sarcasm and learned the fine ways of snark.
But truly…at the end of the day, all of us moms would do well to remember Mary Poppins’ confidence in her role, and to affirm other mommas in our lives, as well. She was quite certain she was practically perfect. She really was, but she’s fictitious. The rest of us are all mommas who are doing our best to mother our children well. We will mess up. We’ll engage in their drama. We’ll over-protect or push them out on their own too soon. The mistakes we’ll make will be countless. But really, if we love our children well, we are the practically perfect mother for our children. So don’t forget it!
Photo by Sarah Brown