Saturday, May 9, 2015

when you're done being the mom your kids deserve

The boy woke me up in the dark stillness of midnight and breathed little sobs and moans. We climbed the stairs and he held his tummy and sat next to the toilet waiting for the worst to be over. He cried and moaned and asked God why he had to be sick.

I listened to boy-becoming-man prayers in the dark, as he told God he wanted to feel better. I began to tell him the stories of when he had tiny hands and little words. He sat there on the bathroom floor and I wove the stories of us into a blanket to cover us and distract us from the awful midnight sick.

This child of mine is growing up, and when everything goes wrong he still cries out for me first. But when it becomes unbearable, he wants God, too. I'm not sure I could find a more encouraging sight on Mother's Day weekend than his beautiful, widening soul.

Somehow, in the middle of all the things we get wrong, there are very important things that we are getting right. 

Twelve years ago, I wanted so much to be the best mom, to be patient and kind and sweet and precious. I wanted them to marvel at how I was just the kind of mom they really wanted. I wanted my children to grow up unscathed by their mother's inadequacies. I thought anger and frustration were the enemies, and if I could slay those dragons, well, then I would be the mother my children deserved.

I thought what they needed was a better version of me. But they didn't. Kids just need a mama to be a mama: sit with them, tell them to take their fingers out of their nose, read to them, laugh with them, give them some snacks, cry with them, listen to them.

My kids are going to grow up and tell their friends that their mom is straight-up crazy sometimes. They will have the same chance all kids get to lovingly roll their eyes behind my back and ignore my frantic advice to wear more sunscreen, drive more carefully, take their vitamins, and FOR GOODNESS SAKE BE KIND TO EACH OTHER! 

I'll let God be the one who is perfect. I'll just wait up on the sofa watching Gilmore Girls when they go to concerts with their friends, and if they miss curfew I'll go all psycho and text their friends some awkward bear-skin rug baby photos until they get home. I'll be the one embarrassing them with my giant floppy hat, shouting their name, and using a blowhorn as they receive their diploma at graduation. When they're in college, I'll ask them all the time about sex and if they plan to get in the game any time soon. If they seem unsure, we'll have a nice chat about STDs, what a job at Chick-Fil-A really pays, and how much babies cost. I will be obnoxious and in their business and it will be the best thing ever. They will hate it and they will love it and when they have their own kids, they'll finally get it.

The bottom line is this: I'm not going to be the mom they deserve, or even the one they want me to be, I'm simply going to be me: the mom God gave them.

After all the sick was done, that boy of mine sat beside me in the hallway and leaned his head on me. He sighed heavy and relieved, and said, "I love you, Mom. Thanks for being with me."

Then he went back to his bed and I went back to mine.

My eyes saw almost-man-sized feet trek down the hallway, but in my heart they wore Thomas the Train slippers and could still fit in my hand. As I slid into my own cozy bed, I thought of all the late nights we have ahead of us as these kids grow up.

I was grateful for my pillow and for the sleep.

I'll need my rest. It's all going to go way too fast.

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