It is my ninth Mother's Day. And I've learned so little of this task.
I spent many years before I had kids imagining them. Assuming they would be one way or another. Planning how they would behave and supposing the kind of mother I would be. Life would be perfect because I would be perfect. I was awesome with kids.
Through my first pregnancy, I imagined this little life. Naming him with a picture of how I assumed he would be. Tussled brown hair...a little long...a boy who loved sports and maybe even skateboarding: Jake.
Two was good. I was good at it. They loved each others. Best friends from day one. Boys, dirt, snails, messy table, I embraced it all. No...Max couldn't talk when he was two...but he tried. He tried when he was three...and four...but he wasn't able to be understood. Well...a good mom knows when to seek help. That's okay. Speech therapy can fix that. He also despised sitting down at the table do look at shapes or numbers. If there was a button, that was much better.
Number three came (Ollie)...and three months later, number four. (Noah) Boys out our ears. I was too busy to plan or assume. Life these days was more of a "roll with the punches" and "keep my head above water" time of life. I saved myself by keeping to myself. It was in this time I felt like a failure. Sheesh...I even resorted to leashes for O and N. (yeah...they are disguised like cute little animal packs...but we all know better).
Five. Number Five. Pink. Despite my failed assumptions in the past, I imagined a little girl just. like. me. (as I have been told) I was quiet, calm, sensitive, and often would put myself to bed.
Well, somewhere along the path of motherhood I think I realized something. Children...are not products of my imagination. Oh how boring life would be if they were.
We took a walk in the woods today. Just me and my kids. There was no hurry, no one to behave for, my reputation as a "good mom" was not being scrutinized and so I just let them be. And watched.
I watched and laughed with them as their individuality shone through and I realized the beauty of God's creative power in their unique, varied personalities. Seriously, my kids are so different from one another it's a wonder why I haven't developed split personalities just trying to parent these five.
I watched Jake as he occasionally paused his ever-running game of spies, jungle explorer, etc. to look at sap running down a tree...a unique flower...a beetle with no apparent wing-armor. If only I could have watched inside his head. I watched (but tried not to believe my eyes) as I realize there is less play...and more glimpses of a future adult.
I watched Max try his very best not to touch his sister. Refrained hugs, soft pats on the back, keeling down and jumping out of the way when she screamed. I watched him hop and dance around...tease and hug. I noticed just how many times he tries to make me smile by saying exactly what he thinks I want to hear.
I watched Noah trying to be big. Mimicking what his brothers do...looking up with permission for everything he knows I might hesitate to say yes about...or avoiding eye-contact and just trying it out if he really wants to do it. I watched him watch his brothers and try things over and over until he got it. I watched him look back at me...smile...and RUN full speed down a hill as if to say "watch me...believe in me."
I watched Ollie as I walked backwards. (Ollie is often bringing up the rear while I usually spend my time pulling him ahead with my words: "Come on, hurry up, faster.") But I saw him as he had conversations with himself...and a bug...and his cracker. Ollie (like Jake) often lives in his head. He is the smallest of my sons, but as I watched I saw him handle situations in ways more grown up than the others. He doesn't push ahead to lead the way, or try to climb highest on the hill or rocks. Ollie enjoys just "being."
I watched Lily as she walked around in her ready to overcome whatever came her way. I watched her accept and refuse the help of her brothers. I saw at some point, each brother willingly yielding to her wants. I watcher her watch...observe...and take in life; and I wondered what she will do with the information that comes through her perceptive eyes.
Watch you kids today, mothers. See their unique person-hood and enjoy them. They are only in your hands for a little while.
Happy Mother's Day.