It’s my first Mother’s Day on the mother’s side. For the last couple weeks, I’ve been seeing promotions for spa treatments and store sales in light of honoring your mother. I didn’t hit me until a couple days ago that I qualify! I’m a mother now. Not only did I get excited about the idea of snagging a few of these deals for myself, I also began to realize I hadn’t given a whole lot of thought to myself as a mother.
Baby girl is coming soon and I have been so wrapped up in preparing for her practically and logistically. I’ve been reading how to nurse, how to get her to sleep well, and how to care for her. But, I haven’t given myself the luxury and necessity of preparing my heart for motherhood. I haven’t asked myself questions like, “What kind of mother do I want to be? What kind of mother does God call me to be? What kind of home life do I want to create?”
The cool thing is we can decide the kind of lives we want to co-create with God. I began to reflect on my childhood, on the things I remember most and the things that shaped me in a positive way. Our parents give us generational blessings in the sense that we get to take the good they infused into us and inject that into our children too.
On this Mother’s Day, as my baby is about to come into the world, I decided to create a list of blessings and traditions my mother raised me with that I want to pass onto my daughter.
Mama, thank you for being an example of Christ in the sense that you laid your life down for us and did everything for us. Here are things I remember and love the most as a child that I hope to draw from and emulate as a mother:
Involvement in the faith community.
Such a huge part of my life as a child was my involvement at church. My mama was a huge advocate for nurturing our God-given gifts like dance and singing. My sisters and I did liturgical dance, children’s choir and performed solos.
We did Vacation Bible School every summer. Not only did mama have us involved in these things, she was actively involved too. She volunteered to lead children’s choir. She let us help her pick the music and choreograph. She sewed everyone’s liturgical dance costumes. It’s a non-negotiable that our children will be raised in the faith community, and I really hope I have the passion and energy to be as involved as my mama was because there is something really special about it.
One thing I will change is when our family encounters the inevitable ill-intentioned church member(s) who may attempt to intimidate me or bully my children, I will not try to please those people. Instead, I will stand firm and let Kris come in as the leader of the household and protector to help defend us. Church life for children can be a wonderful thing, but it can also be damaging if they see adults inflicting pain on one another, especially your mother.
One of my absolute favorite memories is story time on the porch swing with my mama and siblings. My mama would read to us every night. On Saturday, we would go to the library with a tote bag and fill it with books. She would read all of them to us through the week and then we’d go again on Saturday to get new ones. It’s because of those times on the swing that my imagination was wondrous, my dreams were big and I was a whiz at reading aloud in the classroom and spelling bees.
Morning Devotions and Aunt Jemima pancakes.
Every morning, after my mama made us breakfast, she would stand behind the kitchen counter and read us a morning devotion. Then she would ask us questions and we’d discuss it. Morals were engrained in us, but it always felt fun and magical rather than boring and stoic. I looked forward to Saturday mornings because I’d wake up to the smell of pancakes and eggs downstairs.
Mmm mmm mmm
However, I didn’t look forward to chore day which followed right after. I know she was trying to teach us how to care for a home, but honestly… I don’t think it helped because I never dust or oil furniture or clean my windows now.
I really loved that there was a set schedule in our house. I wasn’t consciously aware of it at the time; I thought that’s how everyone’s lives worked. But my mama had set activities and times for each one and each day so we always knew what to expect. Even in the summer, we had a schedule or something to go to. I feel like that really helped me in high school and college when I had needed to create my own structure.
I’ve definitely fallen away from that a bit now, so I hope God will help me create structure and organization for my children too.
We also said bedtime prayers aloud. My mama and daddy would kneel next to our beds with us and listen to us pray. Then, after we were tucked in, my mama would sing to us and scratch our backs. I loved her beautiful, calming voice and always wanted her to sing “Memories” because my favorite line was, “misty, water-colored memmmmmorieees.” I would dozily imagine my memories and the ones I wanted to make as I drifted off peacefully into a pretty dream.
We grew up on the Sandy Patty children’s CD. My mama would teach us rounds and it turned car time into a musical. Everything we did was wondrous and I thought it was normal. Now I realize how much intention, planning and effort went into making sure we were constantly being enriched.
My mama had an old trunk in our living room filled with dress up clothes. I loved that dress up box. My sisters and I would open it and don one of the oversized dresses that was my mother’s or grandmother’s. We thought they were enchanted princess dresses, though.
I had a favorite one I wore almost every time. It was white and flowy. My sisters and I would make up pretend lives and run around in the yard, twirl around and even pull our brother in the red wagon around the neighborhood. We’d ring our neighbor’s doorbells and ask them to come play too.
We didn’t grow up in front of the television. The only time we watched TV was the Lawrence Welk show and Star Search. Other than that, it was old classic movies like The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins.
My mama made sure we played outside often. We rode bikes together, took walks at night, roller bladed and swam. I remember feeling the rush of the wind in my face as I biked or bladed down the hill. I’m thankful my mama kept us so active because I think it’s a big reason my metabolism works well for me now! Not to mention, it made me a really good sleeper.
We always ate dinner as a family at the kitchen table. We had family conversations and my mama talked to us like adults. We rarely ever ate out and I’m thankful for her nutritious meals she because it made us strong and vibrant.
We didn’t have sodas or processed foods in our home…another thing I thought was totally normal. We always had a responsibility in every thing, including meal time.
Whether it was setting the table, cleaning it off or doing the dishes. My mama was always teaching us responsibilities and showing us how we should act as guests in other people’s homes too.
These are just a few of my favorite things I want to incorporate into my daughter’s life. I want her imagination to be huge, her wonder to be cultivated and her free-spirit to be nurtured.
I didn’t fully realize until I created this list how much my mama loved us to center her entire life around cultivating ours. As a child, you just think it’s the way it is. You don’t know about the pressures parents feel, the financial decisions they discuss late at night on our behalf, the competitiveness that transcends into motherhood. I always thought my mama was next to God, that she was invincible, knew all things and was made of steel. But, every mother is still a little girl at heart. She has fears, feelings of inadequacy, wonders what decision to make, doesn’t know who to talk to sometimes and ponders if she’s doing a good job.
I hope I can be secure enough not to expect my daughter to understand how much I love them or do for them. I hope I can refrain from saying things like, “you’ll understand one day” or “your day is coming.” I hope I love and teach her well enough that when she becomes a mother, she can reflect, see things through a new lens and create a list like this too.
Happy Mother’s Day mama bear! You have already left a legacy that will continue through generations to come.