I don’t know how to love well – when to say yes, when to say no, when to be creative, when to lay down the law, when to hold to the rules, when to let go.
These words, written by Sarah Styles Bessey @ Emerging Mummy in her “Practices of Mothering” series, have been bouncing in and out of my head since I read them last week.
I have thought in the past that what makes a good mom is someone who says “yes,” emphatically and without question most of the time. A mom who is adventurous and optimistic, a mom who does not squash a child’s natural curiosity or desire to explore. A mom who can stand some crazy. And I still think that this is true.
But, deep in these trenches, I’ve also learned that a good mom is one who knows her “no,” too. Kindly, but firmly. Not tough love — that’s not what I’m talking about. Healthy boundaries, or even just a good read of the moment. What are the needs, of everyone, right now? This can be so much harder sometimes.
Both of these reflect the same thing: love. In my desire to love my Little Ones, deeply, profoundly, I need to be able to do these both. And you know what? Without Love Himself, I can’t do either.
Throughout this year, I’ve focused on my breath, to ground me, to inspire me. My breath has kept me connected to the present moment, and again, here, I’m reminded to breathe. This moment, in. Another moment, out. It is so much bigger than me. There are no rules, no formulas that make for good mothers, or good children. But there is space, and grace, and hugs, and love, and I have to trust that in my mistakes, those times when I’ve said “yes” too much, the times when I’ve planted a hard-lined “no” in frustration — that these moments will be redeemed. Lessons learned. Fresh-starts are ours for the taking.
Bessey encourages her readers that good mothering is no different from following Christ in other aspects of our lives — the Spirit made visible in it’s Fruit. She writes: “When I make mothering with peace and patience, kindness and gentleness, love and self-control dependent on me simply trying harder, I run out myself very quickly.” To love my children well, to grow them well, I need more than myself. I don’t have brilliance to add to the words of Emerging Mummy — I’m only nodding my head vigorously at this truth.