Friday, May 7, 2010

I Am That Mother

First of all, it's ridiculously overdone. Secondly and more importantly, I worry that I might make things harder for women I truly love, women who find the day to be bittersweet or even unbearably painful. Those are the reasons I didn't write about Mother's Day last year, and why I almost didn't write about it this year. Then, Jen threw out the challenge. Feeling as though I had valid reasons for not accepting the challenge, I began looking forward to reading what others would have to say. Obviously, I changed my mind. Jen's good at making me think. And as I thought, I found some things to say. (Don't I always?)

Often I've heard people describe their mothers as having "the voice of an angel". To be honest, this description unfailingly causes me to hang my head in shame, to quickly recall the countless times I have yelled at my children. I've always found the phrase "the voice of an angel" to be relentless in its torment. A tsunami of guilt enveloping me, as I look around, only to see others smiling, nodding in agreement. Apparently, their mothers also spoke with this angel voice. Holy crap, am I the only mother on the planet who speaks with a voice that holds NO resemblance to that of an angel? I must be. I am that mother.

Unless that mother tells her children many times a day how she loves them. Not just that she loves them, but exactly how and what she loves about them. Unless that mother laughs, often and wholeheartedly, with her children. Unless that mother carefully chooses her words (even if they are spoken loudly), so as never to harm the fragile and developing egos of the young souls under her care. Unless that mother quickly and humbly speaks the words "I'm sorry" when she knows she has not been on her best behavior. Unless that mother is whispering the words "it will be okay" into the ear of a sad, lonely, hurt, or ailing child. Unless that mother is teaching, reading, or singing to her children.

I've realized "the voice of an angel" has many different sounds. There are times I yell. Loudly. I wish there weren't. There are times I am too quick to speak in frustration or anger. I wish there weren't. And if that is the only stick by which "the voice of an angel" is determined, I am certain I don't measure up. But if I consider the times I use my voice to encourage, praise, love and adore my children? Well, I am that mother.

I believe I've had the blessing of learning from one of the greats. My Snarky Mama started on her journey of motherhood at the entirely too young age of 16. That's right, 16. I don't really know how she did it, and I'm pretty sure there have to be times she wonders the same. I know every single odd out there was stacked firmly against her. She was that mother. She yelled, she spoke in frustration many times. But overwhelmingly, she spoke love. She never hesitated telling me that I could do anything in this world I wanted to do...even if deep down, she knew I couldn't. She let me learn that on my own. She never took one dream from me because she knew that eventually, the world would. That's just the way this life works, and we have to learn to live it. She says things like: "What if this is the best it ever gets, what if right now you are living the best you will ever get? What are your choices, you live it or you don't. Giving up isn't an option, living is the only option."

She taught me I should never hold back praise for others. Do you think someone is smart, funny, kind? Tell them! Do you think someone is beautiful, has cool hair, or you love their shoes? Tell them! Because you may be the ONLY person who does. She taught me that acknowledging others' gifts, talents, beauty, or intelligence doesn't diminish your own. In fact, it does the opposite.

She taught me loyalty. You fight to the death for those you love, and ask questions later. Family is first. Plain and simple. And even though she yelled at times, my siblings and I were not allowed to yell. There was no name-calling, no fighting. We didn't always agree, and there was the one time my brothers were teenagers and decided to get pushy-shovey (something about a door coming off its hinges)...but that's my happened so rarely, I can actually remember the one time. My mother was adamant about how the sibling relationship should go, and that is one of the greatest gifts she's given me. We were taught siblings are more important than any friends we would ever meet. Everyone that knows us finds the relationship my brothers and I share to be remarkable. I am trying to pass this on to my children.

She taught me to stand for what I believe, alone if necessary, and never be afraid of the punches people will throw. At least you're fighting the good fight.

She continues encouraging me to be comfortable in my own contradictions. It's how I came up with the term "Snarky Belle"'s who I am. People rile me up and aggravate the snot out of me. At the same time my heart hurts, and you can find me in my closet weeping because I feel others' pain so deeply. I'm intolerant of intolerant people, judgemental of judgemental people. I call people out on dishonesty and rudeness, but I'll be first in line to offer thanks for kindness or provide words of encouragement. It takes a special woman to raise a contradiction...thank you Snarky Mama.

She taught me it's unacceptable to judge other mothers. I don't care if you have ten children, one child, or one who is not with you on this Earth. In my eyes you are a mother. I don't believe you score more points for each child you bring into this world....because mothering is not a game. I don't care if your children came to you through C-section, with pain meds, without pain meds, or thanks to a mother loving unselfishly enough to let her child become your child.

I don't care if you nursed, didn't nurse, if your kids eat organic fruit or if their only fruit source comes in strawberry pop-tart form. Because it's not my place. Because I will choose to believe that as mothers, we're just trying to do our very best. And we all have times of feeling that we're failing miserably. I won't be the one who adds to that feeling of failure. I won't be the one making you feel less than because you "only have" one or two children, and I won't stare at you as if you're a circus show because you have 15 kids. Instead I'll be the one cheering you on, with a big fat grin on my face, reminding you that you can do this.

I have an infinite number of flaws and weaknesses. But, I love BIG. I will never stop loving big and sharing that with my children. I will praise, discipline, encourage, teach, joke and laugh with them. And if those words come from my mouth, along with the occasional yells, or unfortunate cuss words? Well then, my children will also one day be able to stand and say: "My mother spoke with the voice of an angel."


KC Mom said...

You are right....that is exactly you...a big lover!
What a great tribute to your own mom. We are a product of our mothers aren't we!
That makes you pretty swell too!

SnarkyMama said...

How do you do do you make me feel so good about me? How do you take ALL of my shortcomings and somehow make them seem like attributes? How does one little tiny baby girl give one scared, clueless teenage mother courage great enough to tackle the world's giants (if she thinks there is even the tiniest chance they might harm that little girl).

I am not sure how that little tiny baby girl grew into such an incredibly amazing woman...where did that time go? Seems to have happened so quickly.

I don't know "how"...but I do know "why"...because you are that daughter. The daughter who makes her mother know why life is worth hope...the sweetest debt I will ever pay (forever).

I am not sure what angels sound like anyway...maybe they sound just like we do when they want the person they are watching over to, to soar........

After all, are they not all around us? After all, who said angels are only in heaven?

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." Period. And walk they do...I cannot ask for more.

Truth..true to each other and above all true to herself/himself.

"Voice of Angel" ARE that mother, you ARE that sister, you ARE that are my forever angel.

Thank you God...Thank you..

This is a very bearable Mother's Day...I love you.

Sue said...

You said a mouthful!

(And your voice sounds like that of an angel to me, even when you're being Snarky.)

Because your love IS big. I can feel it right through the screen.

Happy Mother's Day!


jen said...

Thanks for alleviating my fear that no one would write.
I loved your reference to the "voice of an angel." Nothing is ever quiet around here. Ever. And I think it's nice to know that those same angels are often seen blowing trumpets. Sometimes that's what it takes. I understand the guilt that comes. But I think you nailed it when you said that you apologize. It's important for our kids to see that we know we're not perfect.
And your Mama, what a woman. My mom is the same--she hates Mother's Day and always feels worse. But we, their remarkable daughters raised by remarkable women, can dutifully try to remove the guilt. "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."
Happy Mother's Day, my friend.
Love you!

jen said...

And I forgot to tell you . . . they fixed the link somewhere out in cyberspace, so I posted your blog on the linky.
And I hope you're sending all these hot pics of yourself out to Iraq . . . wow, girl, you're looking good!

Frosty said...

What a great sentiment, how blessed you are to have a mother who loves you this deeply!

Happy Mother's Day!

Snarky Belle said...

Jen, you made me laugh!! The only reason I have any pics is so I can send them to Iraq. It's all he asks for, continuously updated pics of the kids and of me. I figure if he can do what he's doing, I can at least send updated pics! :-)

L said...

That was beautiful! Every mother should read this!

Carly said...

I love it! As always...
I especially love the part about not caring where you gave birth or what pain meds you used--things are getting so cutthroat competitive about birthing around here, I fear one of my friends will soon blog about giving birth upside down in a tree while having a root canal because "giving birth is so incredible, I can't feel any pain, and wanted the total experience."
Thank you for a little perspective on motherhood that we so desperately need! Love you!

Tanya said...

WOW!!! I never had a mother, and you made me love her for everything that she wasn't... I believe that is what made me the mother that I am today!!! Amazing, that was soooo beautiful!!!
Thank you!

Barbara said...

You are such a lovely contradiction!

And a lovely mother.

And a lovely daughter.

And a lovely friend.



gabe said...

I was just saying to a friend why can't we all just support one another as mothers instead of always critizing the way we mother. . .You said it so well! All that matter is that we are mothers trying to do the best we can.

Thanks for sharing even though you didn't want to.

karen said...

What a wonderful post! (Today is a day of wonderful posts) I loved every little thing you said, because I am that kind of mom too. Thank you also for your kind comments on my post today. Coming from you, it meant the world. We're all in this together, aren't we? Happy Mother's Day!

Jamie said...

I LOVE this post, it's so true. And your Mama's comment-together they made me cry, and miss my own mama. I have found over the years a sincere, quick apology works wonders. Thank heavens our children are so loving and kind, we can learn from them. As to the voice of an angel-I have never thought of it this way, and loved your take on it. You have blessed my life today, thank you!
I hope you enjoy mother's day!

Shauna said...

Wow...what a beautiful post. I needed that today. Your not only a great mother, friend, daughter... but man you can write girl!!! That was what I needed to read today. Thank you for that. Happy Mothers day. Love Shauna

Alecia said...

I wish I could write as eloquently as you do! You wrote exactly how I feel. Thank you so much for reminding me that in my way, I am a mom with a "voice of an angel", instead of a "voice of a banshee".

Nawie2 said...

I love it! Having known this family for many years now, I can personally attest to the comments Snarky Belle made about Snarky Mama!

Snarky Mama, I know how she can make you feel so good about yourself. Everything she said about you is absolutely TRUE! Not only do you do all of these things for your own flesh and blood children, but also for your "adopted children". You have the ability to bring out the best in all of those you love or care about.

Snarky Mama is an awesome person, mother, and friend. She has raised wonderful children and this shows in all her children have accomplished and the way they treat people. Snarky Belle and her siblings are such wonderful people. I adore them all!

I do not have children of my own, but I do have stepchildren and a few "adopted children" of my own. I can only hope that I will be able to set an example and make an impact on their lives as Snarky Mama has done for her children and others.

Snarky Belle and Snarky Mama, I wish you both a very Happy Mother's Day. Love you all!

P.S. Snarky Mama, if you haven't figured it out by now, this is one of your "adopted children"....Melanie.

Kari said...

Oh, Sweet, Snarky Belle! Thank you for writing what you feel and not being afraid to put yourself out there. I soooo needed to feel and hear your words today. I so often feel like I'm just existing in my "Mikey world," and not living the life Our Heavenly Father gave me to live. Thank you so much for being you! Don't ever change! And Snarky Mama---thank you for not taking the easy way out when you were 16. You are an amazing woman!! I hope my daughter will never be afraid to show the love and admiration for me as Snarky Belle does for you.

Have a very wonderful Mother's Day!

Allyson & Jere said...

I LOVE the way you write! This was a beautifully written post. No truly, just BEAUTIFUL! And thoughtful and thought provoking! I'm so glad you decided to play along. I however am a lame Jen friend and have not written anything. Anyway, your Mom writes amazingly as well, so I can see where you get it from.

Happy Mothers Day!

janboone said...

What a wonderful, true description of your mom. She is all those things you said and more. I'm honored to count her as one of my dearest friends.

I cringe at the descriptions of 'angel' mothers too. My mom is human and imperfect, but what she has done for her children is certainly divine.

Rachel Mohat said...

What an amazing amazing post. I wish I had even an ounce of your writing abilities. What an amazing perfectly imperfect mom you are. My mom cannot even mention your name without it bringing tears to your eyes. Everyone who has ever or who will ever come in contact with you is and will forever be touched. Thank you for this post!

Anonymous said...

I love this post!! I am Jenny Dentons sister Alisa. I feel exactly like you about yelling and loving as BIG as humanly possible. I am so glad that you changed your mind about posting on mothering! Thank you!

Melanie said...

Hope you have a great Mother's Day!

Jen said...

Beautiful post! Praising others, no judgement, and loving Big! I want that to be me too!
Thanks for your comments on my blog! Hope you had a great Mother's Day!

Jen said...

Praising others, not judging, and loving big! I want that to be me.
Love your post!

Fiauna said...

Thank you for posting this refreshing slice of honesty. I, too, am that mother.

You're awesome. I mean it. You totally rock!

Em said...

this was my VERY favorite part, although "lovingBIG" was a close second.
"She taught me it's unacceptable to judge other mothers. I don't care if you have ten children, one child, or one who is not with you on this Earth. In my eyes you are a mother. I don't believe you score more points for each child you bring into this world....because mothering is not a game. I don't care if your children came to you through C-section, with pain meds, without pain meds, or thanks to a mother loving unselfishly enough to let her child become your child."
this is why:
i've often thought about when i was a teacher. my neighbor teacher let his classroom get extremely messy and super chaotic. i was neat, orderly, and mellow, but still got crazy every so often. it really depends on the type of class you have with the crazy thermometer. so anyway, i never criticised his teaching methods b/c they worked for him. his class was happy, they learned amazing things, and he was a fabulous teacher. i respected his differences. i did what worked for me, he did what worked for him. our hall was a little piece of peace and harmony, sappy i know, but very true. so why doesn't this transfer to mothers? i think about this a lot. why is my sister in law's way better than my way? this is what she tells me at least. i used to do her way b/c i thought her way was the best, but then i strapped on my big girl pants and ventured into the lone and happy world of motherhood according to me. it is much happier than my sister in law's way, or the gal down the street. when i was in the world of "sister in law is always right" i would mirror what she did to me in her "all knowing motherhood" ways onto my friends. good thing they are understanding women and have since forgiven me. point? the road to motherhood is not a one way street. nuff said. thanks for this post. it was my favorite motherhood post.

Kelly @ Sufficient Grace Ministries said...

And this is why I love my sweet, snarky friend...Happy Way-Belated Mother's Day...and and even more belated...Welcome Back to Blogland. I missed you, my friend.

jacki lee said...

Sometimes angel voices are raised at "authorities" who yell at/ disrespect/ HURT our babies. That's what angels do- they protect those who don't have the voices to protect/ defend themselves. Yell if ya need to SnarkyAngel!

Jennifuzz said...

Just found your blog and I love this post! So much truth in the message.