Mother’s Day! Yay!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommas out there!

But especially Happy Mother’s Day to my mommy.

I’ve blogged about my mom before for her birthday. I could blog about her for the rest of my life because she’s just that wonderful, but in order to get everyone to brunch, I’ll keep it relatively short.

My mom is a summer gal. (Though she’d say her favorite season is fall for the leaves.)

Every summer she always has a list a mile long of changes she wants to make on the house, gardens to plant, vacations to take, books to read, and, of course, spending most afternoons at the pool. Now, usually this doesn’t all get done. (Sorry, Mom.) However, an amazing amount of this list is accomplished because my mom is always going and always making time for the “most afternoons in the pool” part.

I was going to tell a story about me calling Mom daily from my high school teacher’s phone to apologize for being snippy on the way in, but I actually think that says more about me (though it was probably inherited from her).

Instead, I want to talk about two moms in stories I’ve read/seen lately.

I recently read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I know. I’m a little behind. The prose in this book is incredible, and the characters are amazing as well. (Mom, you wouldn’t like it.)

The mother in the book is sad. She’s sad about her place in life. She’s sad to be a mom. Now, I know I’m talking about being a mom when I’m not one, so feel free to shove the screen away. But I am talking about this from the perspective of growing up with a mom who made me feel really, really wanted.

Now, to be fair to the mom in the book, she goes through unspeakable tragedy in her daughter’s death. (This comes out in the first ten pages.) But it becomes clear throughout that she didn’t want any of this mother business. I understand. Well, the best I can, I understand. Don’t all moms sometimes feel trapped? Feel inadequate? Feel like their kids took everything good from their lives?

(My mom is saying “no” and wondering where this is going. Me too, Mom.)

Anyway, I get that moms don’t always feel like supermoms. But the mother in that story leaves her family. And there was something missing there that I couldn’t figure out. Like, it asked a question, but it gave the “wrong” answer.

Then, yesterday, I saw Moms’ Night Out.

By myself.

At a matinee.

I was the odd singleton surrounded by moms’ groups.

Now, the movie was really cute and unabashedly Christian. (That’s kind of refreshing sometimes.) And there’s a mom in the film who feels very similar to the one in The Lovely Bones. The mom in the movie makes it clear that having kids was something she really wanted, but she’s just not happy.

The mom in Moms’ Night Out feels a similar sense of drowning, of never measuring up, of missing everything good in the chaos, and of making mistakes. A lot of them.

(I should say that I don’t think the film was without its issues, even with the concept. Could they make a Dads’ Night Out movie? Because dads don’t “babysit” their own children. They’re their children! Thank you to Mrs. Denning, Jill‘s Mom, for setting that straight.)

The mom in The Lovely Bones leaves. She decides she’s inadequate.

The mom in Moms’ Night Out decides that she’s been equipped. Every day might not be sunshine, but she’s doing the best she can, she’s loving her kids, and she’s spending her afternoons in the pool, figuratively.

Oh, I know you’re not supposed to compare moms. I don’t mean this in any malicious way. Both stories have their place. Also, the mom in The Lovely Bones went through A WHOLE LOT, and I don’t even begin to know how I would handle something like that.

But I do think that mother represents this question in culture of moms. Both of the moms in the stories ask the question of what do you do when things get rough. One mom leaves. The other stays.

I know my mom must have some of these feelings. It’s a mom thing, right? She would never tell us (or show us) that, but I think it’s normal for moms to feel like they’re screwing up their kids’ lives.

But it’s incredible thing when you get a mom who not only chooses to stay every day as the wrangler of four children, but who also chooses to have fun with it all too.

My mom is not perfect. (Sorry, Mom.) But like the movie said, “I don’t think the good Lord made a mistake in giving your kiddos the momma He did.”

She’s the perfect mom for me, and I can’t believe I’ve been so lucky to have her.

So, after some very convoluted thoughts on motherhood, which I am on the outside of, to all the moms (and especially mine), here is your honest Mother’s Day wish:

I know it’s not always easy. I know sometimes you feel like a failure. Or you feel like you’re kiddos are sucking every ounce of fun right out of you. Or your kids are truly sucking every ounce fun out of you.

But you are capable.

You are loved.

And doing the best you can means you’re the perfect mom for your kids. So breathe and get to the pool most afternoons, figuratively (and literally, when you can).

Or ocean. Ocean works, too.

Mother daughter look at ocean

encouragement

When I was fifteen I played spring “club” soccer. I was by far the worst player on the team, and since this wasn’t a school sport, I pretty much sat on the bench for the whole game, every game.

After a few games, my fate became clear, and I couldn’t just sit on the bench any more. I was sick of telling the coach I was ready to go in whenever he needed; I was sick his eye rolling after I told him this multiple times per game. I wanted to be a part of the team.

So I began participating. No, I didn’t run out on the field, but good idea.

I cheered. I encouraged.

No, I didn’t suddenly become the screaming Mom in the stands who always brought apples and orange slices for our snack even through we explicitly said we would take fruit roll-ups and chocolate chip granola bars and nothing else.

I just took over the screaming part for her. I yelled a lot: “Good job! Way to run! You are trying so hard, and you’re only getting better!”

I even invented a name for the team’s mojo. Each time we were doing really well I shouted, “Reign of Fire!” It became a bit of a favorite around the field complex. (Did it have something to do with 2002 classic? More than probably so.)

This new cheering changed the team and my place on it. We became more positive. The girls didn’t sulk so much after missed shots. It’s hard to be mad when someone yells, “You took the shot! You’re so brave!”

The players started to like me. I was more than just the bench warmer. I was the bench caretaker. That’s right. I still didn’t ever get to play. (Although, I did get my coach back at the end of the season, in a game of “butts up.” I was the only player to hit him square on the rear. Take that!)

But I learned something from that Spring on the bench (and every other season I was placed firmly on that aluminum seat). I didn’t learn how to play soccer, but it was far more important. In fact, it was huge. It was encouragement.

Encouragement builds us up. It’s positive. It gives us confidence and warm fuzzies. It makes the day better. It makes life better, and we need more of it around.

That’s why I’d like to give encouragement to you.

I’ve set up an email for this blog: hillymillerblog@gmail.com

If you send me an email (as short as your first name or as long as your entire memoir), I’d love to send you some words of positive encouragement back. Chances are that you haven’t heard how wonderful you are nearly enough.

And you are, you know. You are wonderful and capable and individually special, and you have to email me if you want a more personalized approach to these encouragements. (I should mention that this was Jill‘s idea.)

Make today great!