One of the hardest jobs we face is learning to appreciate the mothers we are. Like thieving quilters we steal bits of other mothers, from dreams, books and playground conversations, and stitch them together into an ideal mother. We hold it up to the light and admire its colours and patterns and despair that we will ever match its splendor.
We see Susan’s patience, Beth’s outdoorsy nature, and Caroline Ingall’s virtues. We envy Jan her homemaking skills, and Hannah her playful spirit. We steal these facets, but never the whole. Do we see that Susan’s patience is countered by permissiveness, or know that Beth worries that she’ll never teach her children math? No, because that realism is counter to the crazy quilt we seem driven to construct.
I have despaired. I have known deep in my heart that I will never be the playful, wise, patient, and virtuous mother of my dreams. One day I realized that if I were all of these women, or even one of these women, I wouldn’t be myself. I wouldn’t have my strengths and my quirks, and it wouldn’t be stories about me that my children tell when they are grown.
Am I a playful mother? No, but I’m a great storytime mother. And I a fabulous housewife? No, but I don’t worry when the kids make a crafty mess. I am me. I am beautiful and strange, riddled with weaknesses and buoyed by strengths.
It’s time to love the mother you are. Throw away the crazy quilt. Make instead a patchwork of *your* days. It will have tears, and missing threads, and little sticky jam fingerprints. It will have the colour and pattern of your life woven into its design. It will be wonderful and unique, just as you are a wonderful and unique mother.