Looking in the Mom Mirror
Mother's Day highlights a particular group of precious, vulnerable people—mothers. For one Sunday in May, they are celebrated and hopefully spoiled, but they are also put under such a glaring light that many moms dread the day.
Perhaps you read this and think, "What are you talking about?! It's a great day. I get flowers, breakfast in bed, a special prayer at church, and a lunch for which I did not even peel the potatoes! What is there to dread?" We're so happy for you! We also would guess that you are the fortunate carrier of some strong Palm Tree genes—the personality type DNA that helps you celebrate all that is good and enables you to enjoy being celebrated. This DNA also helps you forget that you forgot one of those precious kids (the one who will be peeling your potatoes) at a party last week. You don't even feel guilty anymore because you keep short accounts for happiness' sake. If any of your kids ever need therapy on your account, you'd never believe it. You are the joy bringer, after all! So you can smile confidently at yourself in the Motherhood Mirror.
Those who wish we could carry motherhood as lightly as you have a significantly harder day. If our kids don't get breakfast in bed right, we'll blame ourselves for not training them well. Next, we'll look into the Proverbs 31 mirror (if we're still brave enough to go to church on Mother's Day). We won't be able to help but grade ourselves against the Virtuous Woman's over-achiever curve: She never sleeps, always works, cooks, sows, makes her husband proud, and has the adoration of her kids. What is this, if not a daunting standard? We want to give our best! Even when our loved ones put the sweetest words in hand-made cards, we'll counter those words with ways to do better. We are the Boxwood Moms, and we dread the Motherhood Mirror.
Then there are the moms who don't particularly care if the breakfast is edible, the cards are legible, or the lunch is homemade. In fact, they will probably be the ones who keep on serving, as they always do. They are skittish when it comes to the spotlight of this day and are more concerned for the mom who has lost a baby, the want-to-be-but-isn't-yet mom, the exhausted adoptive or foster mom, who has to live up to the image people have of her, and the mom whose children will not celebrate her because of a rift in the family. Instead of focusing on herself, she would give anything to spread harmony over everyone. Yet, if even one of her nearest and dearest can't be near her or acts anything but dear, her heart can shatter like a broken mirror, for she sees her face best reflected in the peaceful togetherness of the ones she loves most. She is the Pine Tree mom.
Is this just all too soppy to your liking? Hello, Rose Bush Mom! You're way too practical and pragmatic to put any stock in the trappings of a single day. You also want to avoid being faffed over in this way. We're willing to bet you told your family how the day will go, lest they come up with a silly surprise or something too sentimental. Proverbs 31 doesn't scare you nearly as much as it does the rest of us, either, because you like that part where the virtuous woman picks out and buys her own field with her own earnings and delegates tasks to her helpers. Did we mention her strong arms? You probably know you have made mistakes with your kids but have also done a lot right by raising them for reality. You don't stare into the mirror; you just get on with it.
Of course, our DNA is a fabulous woven miracle of all these tendencies in varying proportions. Some moms have the personality traits of two or even three trees in a unique work of art—your face in the mirror. In this Motherhood Month, we invite you to be brave enough to look in the Motherhood Mirror. Not for faults, not for comparison, not for regretful reflections on past mistakes, but for research. Yes, research! It is "the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions." In your research, you will be the "material and source" God gave your family in his wisdom. Establish the facts—once and for all—that you have unique ways of loving, serving, and teaching them that come with your DNA. Come to a new conclusion: "I am God's Plan A mom for my kids. I am not perfect, but I am uniquely gifted. I am allowed certain mistakes and many apologies. I am worthy of appreciation and celebration. The difference I make matters. And if the kids and I don't like what we see in the mirror today, we can always grow."
Consider giving yourself this gift by learning about your Motherhood DNA. It is liberating to find that we are normal, and enough!