As I think about the upcoming Mothers’ Day, I am mindful of what Max says when I ask him to kiss me goodnight. I tell me he loves me and say something sweet. His something sweet is the same every time and it said with the spirit of “I want you to give me something!” Moms and dads out there know the tone! He says, “You are the best mom ever!” I kiss him, tell him I love him and say something sweet back like, “You’re the best Max ever!”
Honestly, there are days when I don’t feel like the best mom ever. In concert, when I set up the song “Most of All You Were There” (It is found on our new lullabies CD and in my new gift book for women “One Wish For You” It is about our son Zach at school a few months ago. Ron and I got our trays and sat with Zach and his first grade class. Two girls immediately begun to talk to Ron and urgently want his attention, “Zach’s dad, Zach’s dad.” As Ron turned around, they said, “Zach’s dad, Zach is so gross, he’s sticks his finger up his nose.” About that time Zach interrupted quietly, “Dad, Dad.” As Ron turned around Zach said, “Dad, you know those girls you were just talking to? They bug me all the time. If I want them to leave me alone, all I have to do is stick my finger up my nose!”
Ok, I am not condoning this practice (no cards and letters, please. I have talked to him about this behavior and if you have been to one of my concerts with your children and I have told this story, I apologize.) I’m just saying no matter of talking to him is gonna keep his finger out of his nose!
As I think about Mothers day and about what makes a good/best mom, here are a few thoughts:
- If I am any good at being a mom, it is because of all the best moms I am around and that have learned from. I try to pay attention. I think of one mom I babysat for. Her 5-year daughter showed her a picture that she had drawn at school. The mom gently said, “I bet that picture makes you feel so proud and happy. I am delighted to see what you have created, tell me about it.” And then the mom listened intently to the explanation. I also remember the daughter who told me that her mom stood at the front door everyday before the daughter left for school and told her, “You are amazing!” The daughter told me that everyday she walked out of my door believing that I was amazing and capable of whatever I would encounter. Another friend told me that when her son lost his temper one day and began to yell and cry, he said “what’s really wrong is that I miss dad and I’m so sad he died.” She sat down and said, “me, too” and they had a long cry together.
- I guess I have been a student all my life and will always be. When it comes to becoming the best mom I can be. The best mom’s encourage, apologize, empathize, aren’t afraid to say, “I’m sorry,” aren’t scared to say, “I didn’t do that so well,…I’m gonna get better,” handle the most joyous times with humility and most challenging moments with grace. One of my favorite compliments was received while having dinner with the President of our alma mater, Centenary College of Louisiana, Dr. Kenneth Schwab and other members of the faculty and my family. Our best behavior would have been very appropriate and we even had a family talk about it prior to the event. It was one of those events that a sitter would’ve been great for, but it was an opportunity for my sons to be exposed to an event that was good for them. It was after I spoke at the President’s day convocation to the student body a few years ago. While we had dinner in the cafeteria, my boys were quite busy and entertaining. Zach played his armpit during the dessert, as I tried to silence him while keeping my composure. My aunt Dinah came up to me and whispered in my ear, “Celia, I can tell not only how much you love the boys, but you all really like each other.” I feared I would be judged as my friends and my aunts, yet I was embraced with such a sweet compliment that made the lunch feel right at home.
- If I am becoming my best mom, it is because of others who parent along side me. One reason is because I am raising my boys with a best dad. Ron Whitler makes me a better mom simply because he is an incredible dad. I am more than blessed. Most days I feel my life is a dream. I am constantly receiving these outlandish moments — they are gifts. Daily in small ways, he gives over and over all he has. We are partners in this and I am thankful everyday that we are walking this earth together and that Max and Zach know and are known by their father. He is slow to anger and quick to compassion. He is fun, caring and can still swing from a rope swing into a river with the best of ‘em–he did it last week.
- I truly feel we cannot do it alone. Even when we feel as if we are working alone. There are those who help, who fill in, who nurture, who parent alongside us–dads, grandparents, neighbors, doctors, teachers, Sunday school volunteers, counselors, coaches, aunts, uncles, cousins, church members, babysitters and friends. They all make me better as a mother. They quilted my journey as a child. I have often thought of ways my mother did the best she could and about how many others filled in the gaps. I am counting on that with my own sons. There are so many ways I am going to fall short and so many wonderful mothering my two will receive from other people. Thank goodness I do not have to do this alone and I believe our children are better when we raise them together. When I had Max, we traveled so much and there were so many who held him as I sang. I always thought he wasn’t just mine and I still feel that way. I so wanted to share him with the world and for all of us to love him. I think of those children without mothers, even those times I have been in the park and seen a child be mean to another beyond the sight of an adult. I have gently stepped in and said a word. I am counting on you to do the same with my sons.
- Each night I pray that God would make me more loving. I have so many days when I know that I am not my best. I have lost my temper before 8 am. I have said the mean thing, when I knew self control was a better option. I have forgotten the class tee shirt for the field trip. ok that happened two days ago, it was the right color, so it was 2 sizes too small because it was little brothers from last year. Instead of sharing shame, Max, when I saw it was the wrong one shared grace. “Mom, no worries,” he quickly said, “and I’ll wear it on field day, too. It was the right color, who cares if it doesn’t have an eagle [mascot] on it.”
- I am much harder on myself than anyone else is on me about my performance as a mother. I know if the super Nanny came to my house today, it would be a two hour show! So I am on my knees saying a prayer that one friend shared with me a couple of years ago, “Lord, you got me in this mess, so you are going to have to get me out.” I continue to go study the fruits of the Spirit — Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I also revisit the love chapter: I Corinthians, Chapter 13. I guess I would say that I am the best at trying, the best at looking for ways to improve. Maybe that needs to be on a plaque that I can look at each day. I have always joked that I heard the first 30 years are the hardest for a mom, but I know that isn’t true. When I delivered those two boys I played U2 and BB King’s version of When Love Came to Town in the delivery room and I believe it is true. Love did come into my life as it never had before.
I just tucked love into bed for the night with their favorite blankets, bear and dog… nite nite … mommy loves you!
God could not be everywhere and therefore He made mothers.