I discovered some important things as I submerged my professional persona into my new identity as a full-time mother.
It was 1989, during the great Texas savings and loan debacle, and I wanted another baby. But I also needed a new story. Yes, for you who are keeping track, I actually liked the first baby a lot. She was precocious, blonde, with big blue eyes and a personality that grabbed everyone around her into her orbit – what wasn’t to love? I use the phrase, ” a new story” because I recently read Donald Miller’s latest book that says our lives are stories that God is writing and hypothesizes that people either choose to live actively and experience their stories or they stand back and observe as their stories unfold. The second group often become writers, according to Miller. I have usually been in the first group and intend to continue as long as I can!
Between the collapse of my industry and our decision to have a second child, it sealed the deal on my stay-at-home mom career and I soon discovered I needed more. I grew weary of going to parties or gatherings and having people ask me, “What do you do?”
“I am a full-time Mom.” Their eyes would glaze somewhat and in some form or fashion the question would arise again, “Yes, but what do you DO?”
Those of you who are Moms in any capacity will understand my sudden urge to take this person through the mind-boggling and numbing minutiae of my day; caring for an infant and a toddler for countless hours until Daddy came home and praise his lovely heart, took over for me and sometimes had to listen to me rave. I tried not to give into this urge to over-share too often, but it was tempting and I developed groove marks in my tongue from biting it so hard.
When our older daughter was old enough to be left with a sitter, my husband and I discussed at length what I could do to regain some of my identity. For me, the answer was….performing! I had been a professional singer and actress for many years before my marriage, and there was a show choir I had heard about that was holding auditions. I auditioned and spent the next nine years singing, dancing, exercising my inner “Diva” and only took a break to have my second child.
Young children see you as extensions of themselves. This is natural and it works…to a point. But if you live for and through them, without interests and expressions of your own, you rob them and yourself of a richness that you both deserve. There is an old saying that I have never forgotten. “Love your husband above your children. For your children will grow away, but your husband is your lifelong companion.”
Parenting Tooltip: Make Your Marriage a “Big Rock.” Carve out time for a date with your husband on a regular basis and make your marriage a “big rock” in your schedule, to quote Stephen Covey.
Parenting Tooltip: Demand Respect. Express to your children on a regular basis that you are a person too, and that you deserve to be treated with respect and consideration by them. Your husband can help with this tremendously by telling your children how lucky they are to have a great Mom like you and you can do the same for him. This becomes your story and your truth. You are a great Mom and Dad and they are lucky kids to have you because you love and spend time with each other and still find each other interesting. Parents who visibly love each other provide a tremendous amount of security to their children.
“Who is my Mommy?”
“She is the best, most _(fill in the blank)_ person I know, and I want to be like her when I grow up.”
That is what you hear when you are not a rug your children wipe their feet on, or someone they feel they can manipulate. That is what you hear when you have been strong, kept them safe and on track, listened to them and apologized when you were wrong (believe me, you will be from time to time). When you have cried in front of them if they have hurt you and demanded the apology you deserved.
This is hard stuff to do and it takes more guts than almost anything else, but you are teaching them how to do the same for their children and it doesn’t get any more important than that.
Happy Mother’s Day, y’all!