The Importance of Being a Mom

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For the past two and a half years, my main focus in life has been to keep my kids alive. (And stay married in the process.) I had to learn how to feed them, bathe them, and clothe them. I had to learn how to treat an untreatable cough, soothe an upset tummy, and tell a temperature just by kissing someone’s forehead. I had to learn what to pack in a diaper bag, where to sit in a restaurant for the quickest escape, and how to change imploding diapers. I had to learn how to potty train, how to discipline, and how to sing the clean up song.

The first two and a half years have been about survival. For all of us.

But as things get more routine in our lives and as both my babies get older, survival doesn’t require as much concentration and attention from me as it did before. Lately, I have become keenly aware that the responsibility of motherhood doesn’t end with merely survival. That is just the beginning. The real role of motherhood is the quality of life we build for our babies. And that is a whole different ball game than mere survival.

I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a while, but I could never formulate the words. I couldn’t figure out how to explain what I have been feeling about this new phase of motherhood. And tonight I realized why. Motherhood isn’t a philosophy or a theory. It’s a relationship with a child that makes you a mother. So, once again, I am turning to my sweet baby boy to help guide me. He’s the one who made me a mom, after all.

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Dear Michael,

On the first day of kindergarten, I am going to cry. You might cry, too. And that’s okay. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed of crying. Tears are just emotions leaving our body. So, if I cry when I drop you off, it’s just my happiness pouring out. And if you cry the first time your heart gets broken, it is just sadness pouring out. That’s okay because when you let those emotions out, it makes room for you to feel so much more. And that’s really the whole point of living, isn’t it? To feel things? You want to feel as much as you can, Bean. Feel all the good things – like happiness and love and satisfaction and gratitude and contentment. But be sure to feel all the bad things, too – like disappointment and sadness and frustration and anger and grief. Feel all those things and be proud that you feel them. Even if they sometimes make you cry.

I hope when you begin school, you learn that not everyone comes from a home like yours. Some people come from homes with different kinds of parents and different kinds of families, but they have just as much love in their family as we have in ours. Some people come from families that, sadly, don’t have as much love as we have in our family. And you may not know by looking at someone which kind of family they come from – one with love or one without. So, be kind to everyone you meet. Some children carry burdens that most adults couldn’t bear. Being kind to someone helps lighten that load just a bit.

As you grow up, opportunities will come to you. Try them all. Even, and especially, if you think you’re going to fail. Pick up a golf club, a guitar, and a paint brush. Sing a song, beat the buzzer, and sack the quarterback. Spend the morning playing chess, the afternoon on the soccer field, and the evening with a good book. Success isn’t measured by what you accomplish, but by what you attempt. So, attempt it all. If you fail, you pick yourself up, check that box off your list, and move on to something else. If, along the way, you are lucky enough to find your passion, don’t ever look back. Fight for it, cling to it, drag it along with you wherever you go. Passion is born by trying something new, but it is kept alive by sticking with it. Know that whatever you find passion for, your dad and I will find passion for. Wherever opportunity leads you, we are already so proud of you.

For the love of all things holy, learn some manners, kid. Hold the door for people, stand when a woman enters the room, shake hands and make eye contact when you’re being introduced, chew with your mouth closed, send thank you notes, give your seat to your grandmother, stop to help when someone drops something. Manners not only show what kind of upbringing you have (and your upbringing has been, is, and will be Southern and stellar, my friend…), but they show respect for other people. Be patient in lines. Be kind to janitors. Be appreciative to teachers. Manners acknowledge other people. They say to someone else that they matter, even if it’s just for a second in the middle of your busy day. Be gracious and polite especially when others are not. Perhaps no one has ever been polite to them before and so they need an example to follow. Be that example.

Be optimistic. Look for the good in people and in situations and you will surely find it. Life is full of bad things, bad experiences, and even bad people. You will meet all of those things head on as you grow up. But if you’re always looking for and expecting the worst, you will live your life with your head in a dark, dark hole. Stand up and look around. Somewhere the sun is shining. Somewhere there is kindness and happiness. Maybe not always right in front of you, but it’s there. Go look for it and when you find it, bring it back into that dark hole and light up all those dark things, experiences, and people. Sometimes darkness is there because no one ever turned on the light. So, flip the switch. Hope for the best and expect even better. Life will not disappoint, I promise you.

I wish all of these things for you, Michael. But more than these, I wish you this: Have faith. Live faithfully. Trust fully that the Lord has great, great plans for you. Know that as wonderful as all the joys of this life are, God is bigger. Know that as deep as some pain feels, God is bigger. But even though he is bigger than all of those things, he is as close to you as closing your eyes. Whenever your life feels a little out of control, just close your eyes, open your heart, and listen for that voice inside you that whispers, “I am right here with you.” Pray when you’re happy, pray when you’re not. Pray when you know where you’re going and pray when you’re lost. Pray when you’re thankful and pray when you’re angry. And whenever you pray, know that God is listening, even when it doesn’t seem like he hears you. He always does and he answers in his perfect timing. So, be patient and have faith.

Some days I look out into my classroom of students and am filled with nervousness and anxiety about you growing up. But on other days – on most days – I look out into my classroom of students and I am filled with excitement and anticipation about what kind of person you will grow up to be. You have such a kind heart, buddy. I can’t wait to see where that big, sweet heart takes you.

Love,
Mom

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50 Thoughts to “The Importance of Being a Mom”

  1. Trish D

    Beautifully said. You just brought happy tears to my eyes. My Michael is now 25 and in graduate school..it’s so cool to see the wonderful man that he has become…I look at his beautiful face and know that out of all of the things I’ve accomplished in my lifetime..this child has been the very best thing I’ve ever done. Enjoy your children..you’re in for the ride of a lifetime.

  2. AH! I’m going to blame this on pregnancy hormones, but now you’re going to make me cry! so sweet!

  3. That is beautiful. Perfect. Amazing. I wish I could find my own words to send this message to my son.

  4. Leah

    Simply beautiful.

  5. such a beautiful post, Katie. It brought tears to my eyes. And I have no pregnancy hormones to blame it on!

  6. Wow, Katie! Such a wonderful post! I don’t have kids yet, but hoping God will bless me with them in His perfect timing. I hope to write letters to them just like this. You are such a great role model as a young mother!

  7. Okay, I haven’t actually read past the crying on the first day of Kindergarten part yet, because already I am crying. I think I’m going to have to read this post in bits & pieces 🙂

  8. Sarah H.

    Fantastic! You’re such a good writer.

  9. Elisabeth A.

    I don’t comment very often on your blog but this is, quite possibly, one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. I have a son who is almost 2 1/2 so I can completely identify with where you are and all the thoughts in your head. I want to figure out how to incorporate this letter into a piece of art for my son’s room.

    Thank you so much Katie for your beautiful words.

  10. So sweet. You brought tears to my eyes, Katie. They grow up so fast.

  11. sweet words, katie. i can’t wait to write a letter like that to my future son one day!

  12. Wow Katie, that is a great letter!!!! I want MY kids to read it someday : )

  13. Jami

    This is so beautiful it made me cry! I love how you so exquisitely put into words exactly how I feel about my own 2 and a half year old son.

  14. I love this. I only hope I can express my hopes for my son to him so eloquently.

  15. Augh, I’m going to cry! This might be one of my fave posts of yours ever. What a great, great letter and what great advice. LOVE this so much.

  16. Brina

    Katie, your writing is so beautiful you just brought tears to my eyes! What a lovely sentiment for your son. Motherhood is such a blessing, and my biggest hope is that I will one day be a mother (medical circumstances make motherhood uncertain for me). Thank you for sharing your lovely words with us, and being such a great role model for other young mothers.

  17. Melissa

    Oh, sweet Jesus, this is the best thing I have ever read. I’ve been reading your blog for years now and this is just AMAZING. I’m sending the link to all of my girl friends!

  18. Sarah

    You made me cry at work. I hope you’re happy with yourself.
    I’m the Mom of a boy too. My Husband reminds me from time to time that I will be the single most important person in my son’s life. To be the Mother of a son is a blessing placed upon us by God to create men that will follow in His footsteps.

  19. That was beautiful! You have such a wise and caring soul. I know your kids will get a lot of that from you. If everyone would act and be more like the person you want Bean to be, this world would be a much lovlier place. I wish all those things for my future children and you put it into words beautifully.

  20. ….and i’m crying. Thanks 🙂 I love dreaming about what kind of person my son will be. What will he do, what will his passions be? At the same time, it’s so overwhelming to think of all the things we have to teach him. I think you summed it all up in this post beautifully. Well done.

  21. This is such an amazing and beautiful post. I am not yet a mother, but I want my children to read this one day. I don’t think I could ever say it as eloquently as you have.

  22. WOW… this brought tears to my eyes. In every single thing you wrote … I saw all of my hopes, prayers, and dreams for my little boys. Thank you so much for sharing this. It is seriously one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read. I’m going to show this to every mother I know. You are such a great mother and your I know that Bean will be exactly the person you want him to be because he is learning from you! God bless.

  23. Melissa W.

    Congrats- you had me crying with this one! Great writing as usual! I can so relate to where u r right now- I have 2 boys- 20 mos. and 3 yr. and have recently been thinking about all we have to teach them as parents… It’s overwhelming but such an honor!! Thank u for putting it all into words!!

  24. Heather

    What a beautiful letter – so fitting!

  25. Dawn

    Wow – do you ever put your thoughts beautifully. I wish I could pour out the thoughts in head about being a mom and my hopes and prayers for my girls as eloquently as you do! 🙂 I especially like the metaphor of tears being emotions leaving our body…. Your kids are so blessed to have you as their mother.

  26. Katie, that is probably the most profound, honest, and hopeful blog post I have ever read. You said everything that I have wished in my own head for my son. Hugs to you.

  27. Absolutely beautiful Katie. So true for our children, but a few adults could use this reminder as well!

  28. Alex

    I love this post, so sweet! My boy is not even 2 years old yet, but as he begins to repeat everything we say and learns to interact with other kids, I’ve been thinking about parenting beyond the survival, just like you said. Frankly I’m a little intimidated because I know how influential this part of parenting will be! I feel like I have it easy with the survival stuff now but this next phase is around the corner. Thanks for putting it into words!

  29. Marina H

    Sweetest thing I’ve seen all week. Bean is one lucky boy to have you as a mom!

  30. Nikki

    How am I supposed to sneakily read your blog at work, if you make me cry? It is so beautiful! I think this is a great idea, and hope to do something like this for my children one day. And why is Bean getting so darn big? Stop him already!

  31. jenny-bird

    This is wonderful Katie. You have provided a strong foundation for your family.

  32. Hilda

    You are such a special person, Katie. Thank you and thank God that you are here and we found you!

  33. Well, you certainly have done nothing to relieve my baby fever. Such a poignant, thoughtful letter, Katie.

  34. Oh Katie, this is just beautiful. I have nothing else to say but thank you for writing this.

  35. Ana

    Thank you for writing that. It was amazing and we can all learn (or remember) a little bit from what you are saying. I have had a rough last couple of months (try like 5 months and it feels like 20 yrs) but at the same time there was lots of light I could and should focus on. So I am hoping to continue thinking optimistically. Thanks for the amazing words!

  36. Wow! The values that you are instilling in your children and amazing and truly an example to us all. You are a great mom:)

  37. Julie

    OMG. This is amazing. You have put into words exactly what I want for my babies. I love reading your blog b/c I too am a working mom of a 2 1/2 year old and an 8 month old. I have learned so many great parenting tips from you. But this post takes the cake. Thank you so much for your beautiful words.

  38. Lindsay Campbell

    Oh Katie! Love, love, love this! You made me cry like a little baby. Beautiful!

  39. Oh Katie, you just made me cry. I want to save this so I can steal your words to say to my future children. This was beautiful.

  40. Christine

    The best part about this post is these are words people of ANY age can benefit from. These words apply to so many stages and phases of life. Thanks for writing!

  41. My goodness gracious. I’m not sure I’ve ever read such a beautiful piece. Seriously, ever. Its all the things I wish I could say so eloquently to my son, but can’t. It made me believe in brighter things, too, so thanks. I needed that.

  42. He is so lucky! I wish every day that I could have had anything at all like that from my dad, but it didn’t happen. I’m pretty damn sure that Bean will turn into the best person ever 🙂 🙂

  43. So beautiful–this post and that boy. He is in good hands, because you know you are in God’s hands. Many blessings to you and your family 🙂

  44. MaryanneD

    So beautifully written. You are a gifted writer. Bean is so blessed to have you for a mom. These are words for all of us to live by.

  45. Lindsey

    Amazingly worded – I loved this!!!

  46. Katie, this is the most beautiful letter I have ever read. You are such an amazingly talented writer and such a wonderful Mom. Thank you for sharing this. Your family is so blessed to have you!

  47. Amanda H

    Yep. That’s the good stuff.

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