Developing a tumor in my spine threw a monkey wrench into my plans. Many of the things I had loved to do as a mom had gotten harder or impossible, at least for a while. I wasn’t the kind of mom I had wanted to be.
That’s not all there is to the story though.
I’ve learned to see the value in the experiences we’ve had over the last few years and in the kind of mom I am as a result.
The Kind of Mom I Am
I’m the kind of mom whose kids do chores.
I’d never been consistent about training them to help around the house, as beneficial as that is for kids and parental sanity. (See Toni’s excellent post about chores here.) Now my older kids do the dishes and the laundry, and they occasionally run the floor cleaner in the kitchen. My youngest pushes the cart at the grocery store when we go without his brother and sister. I find it embarrassing that I need a four-year-old to push the cart, but he loves it, and even begs to go to the grocery store together. My older two push the cart at Costco. They’re all learning how to take care of themselves and other people.
I’m the kind of mom whose kids have seen her exercising regularly to get stronger.
At first, even ten minutes on the treadmill was hard. I can’t tell you how encouraging it was to finally hit fifteen and then twenty-five minutes. My physical therapist graduated me a few months ago. (I choked up when I rang the bell). When I tell my kids it’s time for them to exercise, they’ll know I’m practicing what I preach.
I’m the kind of mom who (still) reads with her kids.
I can’t hold my youngest on my lap, but he snuggles up next to me, and we often go to Starbucks for a treat while we read. At bedtime, my daughter and I have been enjoying Noel Streatfeild’s “Shoes” books. My oldest and I read books independently and talk about them.
I’m the kind of mom whose kids have seen how families pull together when things are hard.
My husband took care of the kids so I could go to radiation and physical therapy. He took care of me in so many ways that I can’t fit them in this post. My parents and sisters reorganized their work and childcare plans so my parents could fly out to take care of my kids. My in-laws prayed for us, as did aunts, uncles, and cousins. My mom and my aunt, who shared a room growing up, even sent flowers simultaneously for several weeks (without planning it).
I’m the kind of mom who is learning to focus on the progress I’ve made instead of what I can’t do.
For example, I cooked chicken that even my oldest, a budding gourmet, thought was tasty. When my family went to the River of Lights, I walked it with only short breaks to sit down. And this year, I finally took the kids to the Zoo without my husband to help me. I want to use that focus to help my kids face their challenges, because they will have them, with healthy attitudes.
I’m the kind of mom who works with her husband to teach the kids that God is working for our good in all of this, even if it hurts.
We are Christians in our home, and our faith is important to us. I’d rather have my kids grow up knowing God is working for their good, even in hard times, instead of never facing anything hard and then turning away from their faith at the first really bad thing that happens.
I’m not the kind of mom I wanted to be. I am the mom my family needs.
Are there ways you’re not the kind of mom you wanted to be? Maybe you have chronic Lyme disease and struggle with fatigue. Maybe you’d wanted to homeschool, but it just didn’t work for your family. Maybe you’re staying home full time instead of working (or vice-versa). It doesn’t mean you aren’t a great mom or wife. It just means you’re a different kind than you planned.
Originally published June 2017.