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 point...it 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"....it'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."