This post is for all those who want to be or are a mom. It is a mom to mom kind of letter. One that I pray gives you hope when motherhood ends up not looking like the version you’d dreamed of.
At some point in our lives, we formed a mental image. The image of what we’d be like as a mom someday. Where we picked it up, I’m not sure. When I was young it was books, magazines, and television. Today it may include those 3 forms of media, but my guess is that many of your dreams today are influenced by social media. With a flash of this picture and that video, subconsciously you said, “That one! That’s the Mom I want to be!”
She made it look so natural. So easy. So perfect.
But the reality of being a Mom is different. It’s not always natural or easy. And most definitely not perfect. But somehow, even when we know this to be true, our insecurities creep into our thought — into the recesses of our hearts.
Is this you? Are you a mom who loves her children, but walks through her days pushing back the sting of insecurity? Wondering why her reality just doesn’t match up to what you want it to be?
Mom to Mom Truth!
Friend, there is a truth you can’t let yourselves forget.
You don’t have to be the Mom of your dreams to love your children well.
And you don’t have to be living the life of your dreams to live a joy-filled life.
You see, loving our children well is not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. God didn’t give you that Mom’s kids. He gave you yours.
Yours are unique. Uniquely wired to give and receive love. So how we love them looks different than how another Mom must love hers. The love we give must resemble the needs of our particular child.
It’s not that we can’t glean lots of helpful strategies and support from the Moms who have gone before us, but we cannot allow them to be our mirrored reflection. We cannot lock ourselves into a one-size-fits-all box. Our children simply won’t fit. And neither will we.
Love has all kinds of moments. Some that are wonderful and some that are not.
Moments where love must dig in and not give up. Where it’s fierce and it does the difficult.
I remember the devastation on the face of a Mom I call a hero. Tears poured as she shared her situation with me. She was walking in the deep waters of unique grief. Her son came to her through foster and then adoption. She dreamed of that joyful lavish love I referenced earlier. Only, no matter how much she loved her son, she couldn’t free him from the chains of previous trauma. His capacity to love and be loved had been altered beyond what one Mom could do. As the years continued the behaviors worsened. She loved, learned, studied, and exhausted resources to no avail.
To help him most, she had to surrender herself and trust in God to lead her. She had to let go of the vision she had for her parenting journey and meet her child where he was. That meant hospitalizing him and then finding a unique setting in which his needs could be met.
All that this sweet momma gave with every fiber of her being couldn’t help him.
At the time, she didn’t know how tomorrow’s sun would rise and fall. But she knew God would give her just enough light to take each new step and that somehow, with His love, she would make it through.
May your unfailing love be my comfort,
according to your promise to your servant.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight. -Psalm 119:75-76
Our situations vary from mom to mom and yours may not be this dire. For that I am thankful. But I do know your situation still has pieces of the difficult laced throughout it. There’s difficult whether your child struggles with things like Autism, ADHD, or depression. Or your child has learning, speech, or physical delays. Maybe your child has a bent toward the spirited, shy, or dramatic type of personality. Friend, even if you have the world’s easiest-going child, parenting doesn’t come easy.
When we love deeply, we also hurt deeply. Yet, without that cost of love, we would never experience the richness of it.
Loving our children deeply humbles us. It makes us realize we don’t have all the answers which then triggers those insecurities. Thankfully, we have a God to turn to who has all the answers and will fill our parenting gaps and show us the beauty of surrendering our version of the story to Him.
Maybe not the Mom You Wanted to Be, but the Mom You Need to Be
Your child is unique. And this uniqueness determines what loving well looks like for you.
Loving well means knowing your child, and even when it looks different than ideal, following through with what they need to help them become the best possible version of themselves.
Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it. –Proverbs 22:6 AMPC
My Mom Lessons
My three treasures are all uniquely bent and I understand now that loving well looks different for each one. I didn’t always understand that though.
For our oldest child, his independence kept me from hovering. In his mind, my attempt at “helping” on the school project spoke of a lack of belief in him. I remember walking through the gymnasium filled with magnificent science projects. My son didn’t want help. He insisted on doing it on his own. Therefore, his project looked like he did it on his own! It didn’t have all the cute touches with elegant fonts and accessories. I had to ignore some of the “mom looks.” Yes, some probably thought I wasn’t engaged enough or that it just wasn’t classy to have the child do his own project. But the truth is that they weren’t the ones parenting my child and they certainly didn’t know what he needed to grow into his purpose.
Our other son has always been extremely tall. But emotionally, he was age-appropriate and an extremely sensitive little boy. At only 2 years old, he looked like a 5-year-old having a tantrum on the department store floor. I remember using every bit of strength I had to calm all 60 pounds of that sweet boy. People stared, their eyes clearly stating I was doing the mothering thing all wrong. But they weren’t Mamas of an oversized and sensitive 2-year-old.
However, I learned the greatest lessons about loving well in the parenting of our beautiful daughter given to us through adoption. Her needs are extremely unique and anyone looking from the outside in, wouldn’t understand what it involves. I didn’t understand even after we brought her home. It took lots of counseling, therapy sessions, and learning.
With her, my great big style of lavish love didn’t (and still doesn’t) work. Demonstrative love invades her space and makes her anxious. Trust wasn’t a part of her first 5 years, and because her brain development was affected by those years, trust may never fully be a part of her story. Loving well with her looks far different than the kinds of love I’d experienced. It didn’t feel comfortable, and it didn’t come easy for this momma. Today, she likes hugs and cuddles a little more, yet I have to be in tune and read her cues appropriately.
But, Let’s Get Back to You
You may find yourself doing exactly what you swore you’d never do, and it may make you feel insecure or frustrated. But Mom, loving well looks different for each unique child that God gave you. There are things your child needs that you once thought were silly or irresponsible.
I have some serious reverential fear of the Lord and know Him to be both powerful and loving. But I also think He has a great sense of humor! Why else do most of our ‘nevers’ end up being thrown back at us? On this side of parenting, I have to laugh at some of the views I had and the things I said I would never do!
So, momma, embrace the way your child needs to be loved. Even when it raises eyebrows. Even when it doesn’t come easy. You know your child better than anyone other than God. Dig in. Don’t give up on them. Accept their bent and parent from there. That Mom of your dreams? Maybe you don’t look like her now. But that is okay.
Because the real mom of today is busy becoming an even better version of the mom her children need.
A Prayer for the Mom Who Needs to Surrender
Today, I surrender my need to be an Instagram-perfect mom. God, I trust You to lead me when I don’t know the answers, open my eyes when I can’t see my child as You do, and give me courage when I am weak. I commit to being a mom for all moms. I commit to encouraging instead of staring and lending a hand instead of judging.
Sharing You, Your hope, and Your wisdom with my children and other moms will be my goal. I know that if my children build a relationship with You, no matter what may come, they will be okay. So today, I lay down the mom I wanted to be and pick up the mom You are creating me to be! You are the God of Wonders. The God who makes all things whole, including me.
In Your precious name, Jesus, I pray. Amen
What I Know to Be True
Knowing God’s Word = Knowing God
Knowing God = A relationship with Christ
A relationship with Christ = Knowing our worth as a child of God
Knowing our worth as a child of God = Parenting with confidence
If we want to parent with confidence, we must be confident people. There is nothing in this world that we can rely on to give us a consistent confidence other than knowing who we are, Whose we are, and how deeply we are loved. If we work backward, we see it starts right there in the pages of your Bible. In knowing God’s Word so that you may deepen your knowledge and relationship with Christ.
This is something I wish I had as a young mother. Today, I still have to remind myself, again and again, to connect to Jesus. Don’t let the moments go without prayer and reading His Word. Don’t be too busy to worship and praise the Way Maker. My kids are nearly grown. It’s a time I thought would be easier. But what I’ve found is even though I may get more sleep, the problems are bigger. They face life-altering choices now. Mom to mom, no, it still doesn’t look like the mom I wanted to be. But I’m believing God is equipping me for this moment in my parenting journey.
And yes, friend. He is equipping you. You and God together have got this!
Wait! A Free Resource for You!
“I want to feel loved for simply being me. Settled once and for all, I want to stop searching, wavering, and questioning. No more entertaining the whispers of the enemy. I want to know I am loved beyond the shadow of a doubt so that I may step out in confidence, taking risks, chasing dreams, and setting boundaries.”
If these sentiments resonate with you, join me. Sign up, print the journal, commit to reading the given verses each day, reflect with the questions, and begin to truly know God and His unconditional love in an intimate way.
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This post originally appeared on LoriSchumaker.com.