I know that Mother’s Day was last week, but I have been struggling since then thinking of how I wanted to write this. I could go to the store and read all of the Mother’s day cards, hoping that some combination of those cheesy lines might be able to articulate what I cannot. But that sounds like a lot of time and potential paper cuts. All I can say is, I love my mother, but I don’t think that she always realizes how amazing she is.
As Christians, we hold ourselves to a higher standard. Good isn’t good enough, we expect perfection. And that can be great. Challenging yourself to be better and having a goal for improvement is wonderful. However, when we are comparing ourselves to that perfect standard without accepting that we can’t achieve it, it can be damaging. I think this is often what happens to women and mothers.
In the Bible there is this ideal of a perfect woman laid out in Proverbs 31. This woman does everything and succeeds at everything, but this is not feasible for most women. However, the expectation of perfection pervades the homeschool community I grew up in. These women are expected educate their children perfectly, feed them home cooked meals, ensure they have many accomplished skills from music to Latin, keep the house spotless, keep their children straight and true on their spiritual journey and manage everything in the home.
I knew many mothers who seemed to effortlessly check all of those boxes. However, my mother was not like those mothers. I never learned a musical instrument, the house existed in a perpetual chaos, we probably spent more time talking around the kitchen table than doing school work some days. And according to some people, my spiritual journey has been corrupted. But my mother did so much more for me than being the perfect homemaking robot. She gave me a safe place where I could grow and be myself. She gave me someone I could talk to about almost anything. She gave me a sounding board for all my problems and support to excel. She gave me her creativity. When we were growing up, I remember my mother spending her free time creating homemade cards. She would draw pictures with us. She would write us short stories to help with our devotions that I often found more interesting than some of the published books we were given to read. But as we got older, and my two younger sisters entered the picture, she spent less time on those things.
She has such a dedication to us and her free time was never her own. Because she gave up the free time she could have been writing, I am able to explore my own creative writing skills. Because she gave up her art, I was able to discover my own skill at drawing. Because she gave up her hobbies, I was able to dedicate more time to mine. My mother supported me in so much by giving up so much of herself.
I am also constantly amazed by her selflessness. She puts her family before herself and pours so much energy into all of us. This is especially astonishing when you realized she had to raise three children and support a husband who all struggle with mental illness.
She might not have been perfect by some kind of objective measure or checklist. But she was the perfect mother for me. I would not have the success and I had and be the confident women I am if it weren’t for how she raised me.
To other parents out there: I am not a mom, but I have observed one of the best moms there is. No one gets everything right, so instead of focusing on checking off all the boxes, focus loving and supporting your child. If you do that, everything else can work itself out.