The Ridiculous Lie I Believed About Motherhood

While my children were growing up, I believed a lie.

I thought if I could be a Perfect Mother, I could raise Perfect Children.

Have you ever heard of such nonsense?

On my first day at home with baby Jamie (our first child), my mother stopped by.

Jamie started screaming. I couldn’t do anything to make her happy.

She’s less than a week old and I’m already failing!

Crazy, I know.

I thought it was my job to make sure she never cried.

Or got sick. Or dirty. Or hurt. Or sad. Or lonely.

Or misbehaved when she got older.

While we ate supper, I laid her on the sofa. Somehow she wiggled toward the back of the sofa.

What kind of Perfect Mother does things like this?

Before Mother left, we snapped a few happy pictures.

 

I’m smiling (a Perfect Mother always smiles) but on the inside,

I was a Nervous Nellie.

Two and a half years later Katie was born, 30 years ago today, April 30th. 🙂

Happy birthday, Katie!

What pressure! Now I had two little girls to make Perfect.

I tried so hard to be a Perfect Mother.

Which was exhausting.

Cheery notes in lunchboxes, ribbons in hair, matching outfits, plus I never screamed (on the outside).

Then something happened that began to change me.

Our third child Robbie was born with anencephaly.

He lived twenty minutes.

Life and death can rearrange our thinking. Shift priorities.

We had another son two years later.

Slowly but surely, (and definitely while raising teenagers!) I discovered how wrong I was.

It was never my job to be a Perfect Mother.

And something else.

The root of my desire for perfection was control.

I wasn’t in control then.

I’m not in control now.

God is.

He’s my Perfect Father. And my children’s Perfect Father too.

Did you believe any crazy lies about motherhood?

Wishing you a happy and relaxed Mother’s Day.

Love,

Julie

 

Reminiscing about Rutabagas

I’ve always been able to ask my mother anything. She doesn’t know about numbers, money, or directions–and she doesn’t want to, but she understands emotions. I called her New Year’s Day. “I cooked collards and black-eyed peas. How ’bout you?”

“I had rutabagas,” she said.

I laughed. “Really? I didn’t know rutabagas are a real food. How’d you cook them?”

“I opened a can and poured them in a pot.”

“Have you ever bought fresh ones?”

“Once, but they were horrible to peel. Like a coconut or a rock.”

“I’ve never noticed them at the grocery store,” I said.

“I always look away and head to the canned goods.”

“Did you grow up eating them?”

“Oh, yes. I’d come home on a cold winter’s eve with the trees bare and gray sky behind them. I’d run inside and Mother was in the kitchen cooking. The whole house smelled like rutabagas.”

“What do they smell like?”

“Wintertime. Security.”

“What color are they after you cook them?”

“Pumpkin-orange.”

“What did Goge (my grandmother) fix to go with them?”

“Turnip greens, pork chops, cornbread, sweet tea, and gingerbread for desert. She’d say, ‘Talk to me while I cook. Tell me what you did today.’ Now when I eat rutabagas, I go back in time. I’m standing behind my mother at the stove. She’s stirring… like I’m seeing a painting I love.”

“Rutabagas mean more than eating vegetables, don’t they?”

“They sure do. They mean, I love you. No matter what happens in life, you’re gonna be okay,” she said softly.

“Thank you, Mother.” I tucked her message deep inside my heart.

My dear friends, I’m sending you a plateful of warm rutabaga-love on this January day.

Love,

Julie

*bottom picture from QueenaSookKim flickr