“I just didn’t think I’d be that mom” I knew my friend would understand, “you know the one with all girls.” My husband Derek and I were still reeling from the ultrasound results that yes, we were going to have a third girl. I don’t know why it was so shocking to us, we went into the pregnancy and the appointment knowing there was a fifty percent chance that “It’s a girl!” would be the result. It was probably in part that we were facing the reality we’d never have a boy, at least not in the old fashioned way. We weren’t going to keep having babies just to get a boy in the mix.
But my shock at the all-girl news was also based on what I pictured when I thought of a mom of all girls. For some reason my brain went to a woman who made matching dresses, well smocks actually. I conjured up girls with big hair bows, and quiet manners, and a put togetherness that I’d never had as a mom, and knew myself well enough to be certain I never would. I looked at my bed headed, stained shirted, never kept a bow in their hair for more than five minutes older daughters and the bewilderment continued.
“Well, God knows me.” That was my resignation in it all. If God wanted these girls to have matching dresses he wouldn’t have made me their mother. In fact if he’d wanted them to live in a spotless house and drive around town in an immaculate car, they wouldn’t have gotten me either. Is this thinking simply a way for me to justify not doing the things I should? No. It’s a way for me to escape the guilt that builds up from all of the lies, you know the ones that start with “you should” and point out how I’m falling short, and pushes me toward my assets.
Parenting from my strengths rather than my deficits frees me up to focus on the “I wills”. Those burning passions in my heart that tell me THIS is why God made me a mother. They are centered on my interests, talents, experiences. Now of course there are things I should do (like make my kids brush their teeth on a more regimented schedule than they currently do) because I’m a mom and I need to be responsible for caring for these little people God did without a doubt entrust me to care for. But here’s the thing about most of us. We are thoughtful conscientious parents who all day long do good for our kids. We don’t need to focus on the shoulds because the REAL shoulds, the ones that have to do with general health and safety of our children, we’re already doing them on autopilot. The extra shoulds (like my child should start learning to read music by age 3) are the extras, unless of course music IS your family’s passion and one of the few ways you know God has uniquely wired you to mother.
Even as I write this I am already letting the “yeah, buts” creep into my brain. The ones that say, “yeah, but what about foreign languages and biblical literacy and athletic prowess…and…. that list could never stop. Of good things I think I should be doing. When put together as one long to-do list are simply impossible to actually get to. Do you hear that my friends? We can’t do it all.
When I say I resigned myself to believing God knows me, it really is my discipline toward trust. Trust that I’ve got this. That he thinks I can raise these people. And I’m going to give it my best effort because I AM THEIR MOM.
So here’s to the “I wills”. I will make cupcakes for birthday parties and sit with a girl doing fingerprint art from her Ed Emberly drawing book and blast Taylor Swift in the car. Because I AM that mom. That one my girls need. That one my girls got.
As a mom to four girls, ages 11, 8, 4 and 2, Alexandra Kuykendall is offered daily doses of the ludicrous and sublime. She is the author of this year’s MOPS International theme book,The Artist’s Daughter, A Memoirand is the Mom and Leader Content Editor for the organization. This means she reads a lot and writes when she can. But don’t be fooled by long and fancy titles, most of Alex’s days are spent washing dishes, driving to and from different schools and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma. You can connect with her atAlexandraKuykendall.com.