My favorite superhero is my mother. I’ve told many people that if I’m lucky, I WILL turn into her someday. I’ve always known that, but I’m not sure if she knows that I’ve always felt that way. The way I hadn’t realized that my youngest daughter feels that way about me.
This weekend, we’ll celebrate moms everywhere, all over the place. Well make brunches, breakfasts in bed, do her chores, clean the house, bring her flowers of every color, shape and size, laud her at church services, shower her with jewelry and school-made crafts. And moms will love it all, because it comes from us. You see, being a mom comes with a responsibility that is very personal. Because its responsibility for who WE are.
I was driving along in my truck today, a beautiful spring afternoon, enjoying a Tim McGraw song when I remembered my nine-year-old daughter had been singing it the previous night in the kitchen while emptying the dishwasher. She’s been wrestling emotions lately related to growing up, identifying friends, and working hard at being a good-hearted person. The friction that can arise from interpersonal interactions in fourth grade have her feeling rather alone and realizing that doing the right things isn’t always the road to popularity.
She tells me often, and because she’s always been “my girl,” has been declaring for some time now, that I am her best friend. Her mom. While I regularly tell her how much I love her, I’m not sure I myself realized the responsibilities that come with being a nine-year-old’s best friend.
BFF’s at that age like the same things, do the same things, and model one another’s behavior. I forgot that until Tim started singing “Meanwhile, Back at Momma’s” today on my radio. She’s never liked that song, but I’ve always loved it. And suddenly, a whole lot of my daughter’s recent behavior issues began to make sense.
She seems confused when I’m angry that her room isn’t picked up. That’s because my house isn’t picked up. She never puts laundry away, and often, to my chagrin, folded clothes end up back in the hamper instead of on her body or in a drawer. Yet I leave full laundry baskets in the family room for days.
She hates doing dishes, loves Star Wars, sings with Miranda Lambert, steals the covers, and won’t go to the basement without a companion. She stomps and bitches when she’s mad and talks incessantly when excited about anything. Guess who else does or once did all of these things?
Yep. Me. Being a parent comes with a responsibility we mom’s don’t often get the whole gist of because we’re busy worrying about how we feel about ourselves in the mommy role. Sure, we all know kids imitate. But those lovely little mirrors of ours often tell us what we don’t want to know. My older daughter may have inherited my old talent for drawing and my thick brown hair, but my youngest, my BFF, is picking up my bad habits by trying to emulate someone she loves the most.
Flattering? Sure. But it’s also a wake up call. Being a worthy example to someone learning the ropes of life is not easy. But I owe her and her sister my best effort everyday.
To help my child grow and succeed, it’s time that mommy/BFF gets her butt in gear. She’ll likely never clean her room if I don’t start tidying up our house. She’ll never do dishes unless she sees me do them. Telling her to find pants for school in the laundry basket next to the couch while I’m trying to hoist myself out of bed will never teach her the importance of organization, the need to let go of habits or how to respect others in her household.
This Mother’s Day, I’ll get a lot of accolades. My own mother will congratulate me for successfully juggling chronic illness with raising good kids. My husband will love me for guiding our two shining stars through weeks of cheerleading, gymnastics, music lessons, school work, meals, baths, bedtimes, chores and sibling rivalry without any trips to the ER. My childless brother will shake his head and smile at me with the kind of love that tells me “You’ve got this girl. Keep going.” And my father will delight in every moment he spends with the two girls who make him the happiest man alive.
But me, I’ll know there’s more work to be done. Not in the kitchen or the laundry or in the car, but in my own heart. I’ll be working to push myself harder – to become the best me I can be. Because when your looking for an example of how to act, or do something, your probably going to look to your BFF.
God help me. Really.