As moms, most of us are in charge of the work that needs to be done for our children. Not trying to knock ya Dad, but both the physical work and the working mind that motherhood requires are just, well, different than the role of the father. From the moment our children are born, we become uniquely tuned in to what they need, when they need it, how we can best provide it for them, and what to do when it all gets turned upside down. The amount of time that I have personally spent in a legitimate panic over how to deal with all of the “mommy choices” that come up in even just one day are really mind-blowing.
What a mother knows and what a mother can do is special. We know our children in a way that no one else on this earth can know them. Being a mom is a precious gift, so why then do we worry that we’re messing it up?
I struggle with it. Motherhood, I mean. Every part of it. I never even thought I would be a mom, so I never spent much time thinking about what I would do or what I would say or how I would feel about taking care of another human person. And the amount of mental and physical work that this job requires makes the struggle all too real. It never ends, and most days, that’s overwhelming.
My brain tells me that I can’t be the kind of mother my daughter deserves. And how could I say that’s a lie when I know who I was before I became her mom? All of the dumb choices. All of the idiot mistakes. All of the terrible things I said and did to myself and to others. A lot of the time I worry that because I don’t have it all together, and especially because being her mom doesn’t feel or come naturally, she will suffer.
I doubt myself. I lack confidence in my ability to do this job. And why? Am I not the most qualified person to do it? Is there someone who can love this little girl more than I do? I don’t think so. But I’m hardwired to look at myself and doubt, then look other moms and measure myself against them. My own shortcomings are that much more apparent when I encounter and compare myself with others who are “doing it better.”
Brenda Garrison tells me that these feelings are normal. Last week, I had the chance to speak to her about this and more. Brenda is a lovely woman of God and the author of several books including Love No Matter What, Queen Mom, and Princess Unaware. She aims to encourage and challenge women to navigate motherhood and other areas of our crazy lives.
“Sometimes moms feel like the work they are doing doesn’t matter,” she says. “It feels like someone is always doing it (motherhood) better than we are.”I know that feeling. Clothes. Meals. Activities. I’ve Pinterested myself silly trying to add that bit of “better,” only to feel like I’ve come up short. I never feel like it’s enough, but I need a dose of reality. And there’s Brenda again. “No matter how small the contribution, we are making a difference."
What you’re doing matters, I say to myself. God chose you to be her mom. I know deep down that it’s supposed to be me. I know it because of what I’ve been through and what it took for God to get me here. It is a miracle. But those aren’t the feelings that steer my day to day. That truth is silenced by the voice inside that says, you don’t know what you’re doing. It can be exhausting trying to stay ahead of a game that you never really feel like you’re winning. And then, there’s that voice. The voice of someone who knows, who has been through it, who has seen the hard times and come out okay on the other side.
“Trusting God and staying faithful to His plan is hard work,” Brenda reassures me. “This life is not a glamorous one. We are the mothers. We are the ones behind the scenes. We keep things going. We make life happen, and small acts of obedience are making a difference.”
She’s right. My presence in my daughter’s life is worth something. It is worth much. All of the thinking and deciding and doing that make up my life as a mother…it means something. I’m here, and I want to do the best job I can, but sometimes I’m not sure what that means. Brenda does, though. She knows exactly what that means.
“You need to show up,” she says. “We need to pour into our children. It’s not that you have all of the knowledge or have it all figured out. It’s that your daughter knows you are there to help and love her. That will make all the difference.”
And I am there. I always want to be there for her. I want her to be able to talk to me and know that I am really listening, not just waiting for her to stop so I can interject the I think or I want you to do this piece of advice that I want to push on her. But if I’m not careful, I know that’s exactly what I’ll try to do. I’ll try to give her the answers before I even hear her problem, and tell her what to do before I know what’s already been done. God, please help me catch myself before that happens. I pray You catch me before it happens. I want to be someone who gently encourages her to be the gracious, loving, strong young woman You made her to be, but where do I begin?
“Affirm her,” Brenda nudges. “Affirm her, and don’t ignore her. It sounds simplistic, but parents are becoming more and more hands-off and allowing their children to be alone. Your daughter is starving for your recognition and to see and find herself through you. Build her confidence and endurance by finding her passion together.”
Passion. It took me a long time and many of life’s tough turns for me to find mine. Please, God, show me ways that we can find and celebrate her passion together. Show me what you’ve gifted her with, and help me help her to develop it. Help me help her change the world.
And that’s when I see it. This truth. This monumental, life-giving reality that quiets my nerves and soothes my soul. This has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with her. That sandy blonde-haired, wobbly-legged little creature making messes on my living room floor. The steady beating heart that I carried inside my body, she is the main character in this story. She is my call to motherhood, His call. It’s not in my desire, nor in my ability. It’s in her aching arms, reaching out for me to hold her. It’s in the rumble of her hungry belly, her curious grunting, those short, precious “yeahs” as we turn the pages of the books we read before bedtime. Those moments, and not the opinions of myself or others, are the ones that count. Because if I do right by her, if I raise her up in the way she should go, if I am careful to teach her the things she needs to know, does it really matter what her nursery looked like? Will she wish for another mother because we’re having leftovers tonight and not a five course meal?
I’m not a Pinterest mom. I’m not as put together as some other mothers seem to be. Sometimes I don’t go for a run because I just don’t want to. Sometimes the dishes don’t get done, and sometimes I could really use a glass of wine. But I am a mother. One no less fierce, no less faithful, and no less equipped to handle the tiny mess of curls running in a fit of giggles down the hallway. She is mine, and I am hers. And when I see her look at me, I am reminded that I was chosen for this, for her. He chose me, and the choices I make for her will be the right ones because we will keep Him at the helm. It’s my job to do it and, as Brenda says, it’s God’s job to make it matter. And if I truly believe that God doesn’t make mistakes, I can rest assured knowing that I am the one best fit for the job.
BIO: Brenda is an accomplished speaker and author of four books, including Love No Matter What: When Your Kids Make Decisions You Don’t Agree With, Queen Mom: A Royal Plan for Restoring Order in Your Home, and Princess Unaware: Finding the Fabulous in Every Day. Click here to be taken straight to her YouTube channel and learn more about her passion is to help women know God’s limitless love for them and honor Him with their lives.