Loving the mothers we are

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.

32 thoughts on “Loving the mothers we are

  1. gypsymom says:

    A beautiful essay. We each have our own unique style. Our children will remember watercolor painting at the breakfast table not the stack of laundry in front of the washer.

  2. janice says:

    I sent this to all the moms I know. for their valentine’s email from me. it is so true so wonderful, so colorful and so quirky. LOVE it.

  3. RegularMom says:

    Yes. I’ve just gotten in touch with this myself. I am making a conscious effort to not worry so much about the mother I’m NOT. Because that just makes the mother I am that much grumpier. 🙂

  4. Jackie says:

    I just stumbled upon your blog today and love it. I am especially thankful for your writing on loving the mothers we are. This is something I remind myself of often. Despite all my worries about being better at my mothering, I find an unexpected reward here and there, like when my 5-year-old daughter tells me that even if her friends aren’t at the school dance, she’ll stay anyway because she likes to be with me. So, I must be doing something right.

    I’m looking forward to following your blog in the days to come.

  5. Dawn says:

    This is a beautiful posts. As a new mother, I will always remember this as I compare myself to other mothers. I am who God made me and I am special and just the mother and wife I am supposed to be.

  6. Tereza says:

    This is so true and so freeing!! I always want to be the perfect mom and end up grumpier than if i wasn’t trying so hard!! We are happiest when we take life as it happens and make it work for us….our way!

  7. PS~Erin says:

    This is so perfectly expressed. Thank you. I so appreciate hearing this and it good for all women to know and embrace.

    Okay, I really should stop reading your blog and carry on with my evening… It’s just so jam-packed with awesome stuff. Thanks for sharing it all.

  8. Kamille says:

    this brings tears to my eyes as it so what I needed to read & hear. It’s so true as we as mothers paint our ideals of others upon our canvas, trying and reaching to be something, or someone I was never intended to become. Beautifully put!

  9. Debbie says:

    Oh this is beautiful. It made me cry. I really needed to hear this today.

    I’ve just found you today. And am glad for that. Your blog is lovely. It is so nice to find others that live the same “philosophy.” Looking forward to reading more. -Debbie

  10. Honey says:

    I wanted to say that I’ve noticed a need throughout the kids lives that I want to do all my mom did with me. The sewing, the handmade cooking, spotless house, always there, the handmade gifts & clothes, decorating the ENTIRE house for EVERY SINGLE holiday. I’ve so much stuff & I’m thinning out STUFF. I was saddened this holiday season because I just can’t do all like she did. My husband pointed out mom didn’t have 3 kids, mom didn’t homeschool, mom didn’t have a special needs child, mom didn’t have 3 children with allergies galore & a vegan family, mom didn’t, mom didn’t, mom didn’t, mom didn’t…. My Ben’s comments started turning the tumbler, but your post clicked it in. I’ve been trying to live up to a dead woman’s idea of motherhood & not mine. I need to be my kids’ mom…not my mom. The laundry can wait, the house with dust will allow for a spur of the moment lesson in writing, a boxed cake is fine & I won’t be so disgusted by all the work & could actually enjoy a piece. Just putting up a few things for the holidays will be better since I’ll have the energy to be fully present. Thank you for clarifying for me. I’m actually printing this out & putting it on my bedside table with a picture of me & the kids. Every night I’ll remind my self to be their mom…not mine. Blessed Be & thanks for an absolutly wonderful new life resolution.

  11. hillary13 says:

    Oh, this is so well said! Thank you for the reminder. It’s so easy to get caught up in everyone else’s positive attributes and forget to appreciate our own loveliness.

    Fantastic!

  12. Mimi says:

    It is so very hard not to compare. Some moments I’m ok with who I am, but most days wish I was like anyone else. Thanks for these thoughts.

    ~Mimi from MBC Round Up

  13. Rana says:

    I found you through Steady Mom. This is a great post. I needed to hear this, this week has been very stressful and this post has been very inspiring. Thank you!

  14. Virginia Duff says:

    I really love this and have shared it with friends…BUT I think there needs to be another “essay” on “Loving the mother’s we got”. I mean sometimes it is easy to take your own mother for granted, to feel like maybe if she’d been into this or able to do that it may have impacted on your life..so after thinking about MY mothering for some time after reading this I started to think about my mother’s mothering and what I loved about the patchwork she made for me. And though not perfect I loved it all the more for reflecting on it.

  15. MzLane says:

    So glad I ran into this article-I wear a lot of hats and stretch myself thin. I question myself all the time because I have four individuals that rely on me. I wouldn’t change mother hood for a second. Thanks for these encouraging words!

  16. Jen says:

    Hi – I just found your blog after looking for the Meadowlark pattern on ravelry – yours is lovely. I loved reading this about loving the mothers we are, it is just what I needed to hear this morning. Interesting how you sometimes stumble upon what you need to help you get through the day. Thanks for posting (mommagott on ravelry)

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