I like to tell people that I was born to be a momma. I don’t mean it in the arrogant “look how amazing of a mother I am” kind of way that it sounds. I don’t think I am some Mary Poppins/Betty Crocker/June Cleaver miracle among mothers. I don’t pretend to think that I don’t mess up the Mom-gig daily. Hourly. It’s actually appalling how much I still mess up. But man do I love my kids and being their mom. Even the parts of parenting that I dislike, I actually love. Don’t ask me how that makes sense, I don’t know. But I know that every part of me loves being a momma.
Some of my earliest memories are admiring other people’s babies. Coveting them, really. I wanted to hold babies before I was much bigger than they were. I used to nurse my baby dolls when my mom was still nursing me. I am a Mommy.
So, it isn’t much of a surprise that I want to mother pretty much every baby, child, and teen that I encounter. I’m the lady in the store staring too long at your baby with a goofy grin on my face, and the lady at the park watching to make sure that your child isn’t going to fall down the stairs and cheering them on when they are going to go down the big slide. I’m also the lady watching the teen girls in too short shorts walk down the road wishing I could invite them over for dinner (and maybe on a shopping trip to buy some longer shorts) without looking like a creeper. I just want to make sure all of the kids are okay, that they know they are loved, and that they have someone if they need help.
Because the fact is, not every kid is okay,
People say that children are resilient, they are survivors, and they will be okay. I think that is a dangerous idea to throw around carelessly. Not every kid is okay. Not every kid will be okay. The shocking number of child suicides alone should tell us that. According to the CDC, “Suicide is the third leading cause of death among persons aged 10-14 years and the second among persons aged 15-34 years.”
I was not okay. When I was a teenager I was rough around the edges. And on the inside. And pretty much on every side, surface and in every way. I knew nothing, not anything, about self-respect, morals, values, being a lady, etc.
I had known some of those things, previously in my childhood, but my family imploding when I was 12 wiped most of those things from my experience. I didn’t learn about them anymore and I didn’t care.
I was the girl with whom no mother wanted her daughter hanging out. I was the girl with whom most boys wanted to hang out. To be fair a few of them only wanted to save me. And a few of them even managed to keep me relatively safe during otherwise dangerous times in my life.
But to be clear here: I wasn’t a good girl. And I wasn’t okay.
Which is ironic, because I started out as a goody-two-shoes. Daddy’s girl. Perfect grades. Shining blond hair and pretty blue eyes.
How I took that abrupt turn in my life is quite a story. My family did implode. My father died, and none of us knew how to live without him, so we basically all died too for a while.
The years from when I was 12 until I was 16 are mostly a blur for me. But I know that I spent much of those years too hungry, too cold or too hot, too tired and too sad to even pretend to care. I was grasping at straws, searching for something to fill and heal that gaping hole in my chest left by my Daddy. I have since heard the term “sucking wound” and that resonates with me. I had a sucking wound and not only was it painful and slowly killing me, but it was preventing me from breathing. I spent almost all of my time trying to figure out how to make it stop hurting and how to breathe again.
Anger worked pretty well. So did boys. “Experimenting with my consciousness” was pretty helpful. You can turn up your nose if you want, but I can still remember what that ache felt like if I sit and think about it, and I cannot bring myself to feel even slightly judgmental.
But I still hurt. I masked it and I hid it with anger and danger, but I still hurt. I was not okay.
When I was 14, I was introduced to the woman that would become my “other momma.” My mom was withdrawing me from school with the intent to homeschool, and asked the local librarians for the name and number of a local homeschooler. (Something more along the lines of “doing whatever the hell I wanted” was what actually happened, but I don’t regret it. Public school would’ve been the death of me, I think.)
That “local homeschooler”, my “other momma”, changed the course of my life by simply loving and accepting me. She lived and behaved in a way that I thought was only a myth. She actually treated people, everyone, with respect and acceptance and love (real love, not Hollywood self-centered garbage) regardless of their situation (or personality, ha!). And gradually, over the years, I got to know and trust her, learning what I wanted to be as an adult, wife and mother in the process. Thank God for her. Thank God. Because of this I have my own beautiful family and six (SIX!) beautiful babies to hold and love.
God used my broken life, my shattered family and my hopeless future to heal me the only way that matters: by bringing me to Him. Maybe I wouldn’t have sought Him while I had my Daddy around to worship (I really was a complete Daddy’s girl. He was an awesome Daddy.) I’m not saying that God broke my family to bring me to Him, people make their own choices. Daddy dying wasn’t his choice, but the rest of the things that happened were human choice. And, honestly, so what if God did break my life to bring me to Him. I’d ask Him to do it again. He is life. Nothing “good” I’ve ever had or ever will have touches the Good of God.
In the years since, and to this day I have thought of the adults and authority figures in my life and wondered why almost no one, other than my “other momma” did anything. But what could they do? Short of taking me out of my home (which ironically I would have hated and fought), there weren’t many options to help. But still. I was lost and sad and angry and hurting and I was not okay. So I ask myself, what do I think they should have done? What would I do if I were on the outside of that situation? And that begs the question, what did I need? And what should I do now, for others in the same position?
I needed parents. I needed a mom, a dad, guidance, love, acceptance, security, truth, etc. I needed food and a clean, safe space, and to be told to shower daily. I needed someone to teach me how to do laundry, do my homework, get enough sleep, and eat food that would help me grow. I needed someone to teach me to not be selfish, how to love, and the importance of being kind. I needed someone else to reach out and keep reaching out, because I did not know how to ask for help. I needed people to just be there and care.
I really needed a momma.
So now I want to be a momma to everyone. I don’t think I can really reach out to every single child (although I’d love to!). But the ones that God brings my way? The ones He pulls my chin up to see, to notice? You bet I can pursue them and love them and accept them. I can see if they are okay. I can build that relationship and wait patiently for their trust. I can pray and work on my relationship with Christ so that He is shining through my brokenness for them. I can tell them, “I know and you are okay here.”
I can do that. I can be a momma where I’ve been planted. And I can love every minute of it. I can love God using my brokenness to shine through and heal others. Can you picture it? My cracked and broken vessel, the Light of Christ filtering through, falling on the hurt and broken and healing them? How beautiful a picture.
Can you think of someone that changed your life as a child or young adult? What did they do that was so important? It’s so great for us to share how we have been encouraged and comforted so that we can encourage and be a comfort!