Becoming “That Mom”

There’s a certain type of mom that irritated me not long after I became a parent.

She was happy (mostly), loved her husband, found joy in being with her children and serving her family… and basically was everything I wanted to be but could not.

I didn’t have a husband to adore, only an abusive “fiancé” who proposed to me over the phone… while incarcerated. I was taught from a young age that parenting is a stage to be endured and children are not a blessing, but a burden. I certainly wasn’t happy.

I gave up. My boys (thank God) spent a few years of their young lives doing all the healthy and fun stuff toddlers are supposed to do, but it was with their grandparents. I was too busy in the streets and clubs trying to fix my life with money.

Then I met Peter, had a few more children and started trying again. I met Jesus. I felt discouraged but I kept trying and He helped me.

“I didn’t have a husband to adore, only an abusive “fiancé” who proposed to me over the phone… while incarcerated.”

Fast forward ten years later to this morning…

As I leaned over and opened the oven to turn the pumpkin seeds I am roasting, a familiar smell ripped me out of my kitchen and back to my childhood friend’s home.

Julia’s house always smelled pleasant. Her mom cooked and baked and it was actually good because she wasn’t playing Gordon Ramsey while hitting the bottle like in my own home.

(My mom turned out to be a decent cook later in life (during sobriety), but prior to that was lots of hard food. We had a running joke that dinner was done when the smoke alarm went off.)

But here I am, adulting, and my pumpkin seeds (left from the pie I baked from scratch) smelled like Julia’s house. A house where people loved one another and (while I know no home is actually perfect) was heaven from where I stood.

Not a picture of my pie, cause we ate it too fast and it was AMAZING (I concocted homemade whipped cream too!)

Julia had a father she went to “greet” when he got home from work each day. I never saw my father. There were birthday parties with homemade princess hats and her sweet little brother whistled so much you’d have thought he lived in a Disney musical.

I still remember going to a performance she was in at a local church. Children lined up across a stage, adorned in giant present costumes (homemade by non-drunk moms of course), and they sang “I’m gifted, gifted and taaaaalented!”

Nice affirmation for the kids participating. For me it was just a omen of when I would be ripped out of the GT (gifted and talented) program when my mother put me in a “better” school a few years later and I didn’t measure up (‘cause poverty metrics in education are different than middle-class, suburban metrics.)

I was not gifted and taaaaalented. I was a poor white kid with no dad and a mom doing her best, but falling short. And my kitchen smelled like smoke when dinner was made every few months.

Incredible how a smell can bring back all that.

Even more incredible is how finding grace in Christ has slowly changed me into an okay mom, despite the statistics. He changed my narrative from “I need to be a better mom,” to “I love God and He is making me who He meant me to be.”

I went to a pumpkin patch with my daughter’s preschool last week. Probably not a big deal for y’all who do this thing all the time. But for me, it’s a huge improvement from stopping on the side of the road 15 years ago to take a bump so I didn’t fall asleep… while driving my child to preschool.

My actual semi-burnt pumpkin seeds

So yeah. Those pumpkin seeds are a little burned today. And I may or may not have caused my toddler to cry by snapping at her when she stuck her hand in the olive oil and seasoning and wiped it on her brand new sweater.

But I also apologized and hugged her, and the seeds are still edible. I may not be there yet, but I am becoming “that mom.” The one I was created to be.

Allow yourself to accept grace and to give it today, mommas. Daddies too. We’re doing our best but when we allow Jesus to decide what that looks like, it’s better than we could ask or imagine.

Your sister,

Monica

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