In the grocery store yesterday, I spied a cute pony-tailed mom toting a baby on a hip and pushing her grocery cart. In the grocery cart was a tow-headed toddler. Absolutely adorable. I smiled as she came toward me and we almost made eye contact. I wanted to make eye contact because I SO remember those days. I wanted to encourage her and tell her what a great job she was doing.
But then, she was distracted by the toddler in the cart and just barely bumped me as she passed. Without batting an eye, she glanced up and without thinking said, “I’m so sorry, Sweetie.”
Now you could say that we’re in the South and all that, but I know that this cute mom is saying “Sweetie” and “Honey” so often to those tow-headed darlings that it just rolls off her tongue to any stranger that crosses her path.
As I walked away, I just smiled and smiled. I love young moms because I remember the fun, the fatigue, and the fear of those days.
My biggest fear was this. I am going to totally screw up my kids.
So, I did what every sane mother does. I read every parenting book that promised me a certain outcome if I just followed their advice. I wanted, no needed, to know that if I did this mothering thing according to what the “experts” said was right I wouldn’t screw up my kids.
But guess what. Their advice didn’t work every time for all my kids. And here’s why, kids are unique little people with their own unique personalities, proclivities, and preferences. Not only that, but I’m a unique mom, and pair me with my husband, and we’re unique parents. Children simply are not machines that you put in a quarter and out comes a behavior.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about young moms. I have several of these amazing women in my life and I feel like a kind of big sister to them. I love it when they are honest with me about:
- how hard mothering is,
- the loss of their professional identity,
- the struggles they have with expectations others have for how their children should behave,
- the impact having children has on their marriage,
- how to handle specific issues with their kids,
- and of course, their fear of screwing up their kids.
I love to come alongside them and tell them how wonderful they are, that God created them perfectly to be the mom for their children, that our mothering is about relationship, not rules, and lift their eyes above the diapers, and the laundry, and the need to get meals on the table. And then, if they want to talk specifics with me, I’ll give them my $0.02 about the specifics, but covered with grace and freedom, and hopefully the wisdom of one who’s BTDT.
Recently I’ve been praying about what it might look like to come alongside young moms to breathe freedom and beauty over them rather than give them a list of rules to follow. I’d love both your prayers and your input. And if I see you in the grocery store and you call me “Sweetie,” I’ll smile knowing that what’s coming out of your mouth is a beautiful expression of the love you are lavishing on your children.
So what are you thoughts? Do you fear screwing up your children? Have you read every parenting book out there and been disheartened because the advice just doesn’t work? You can respond right here, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I really would love to hear from you!