Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hand-me-down mommy

I recently dug this fun sweatshirt out of our hand-me-down box...

For it's newest owner, Joshua.  As I was rolling the sleeves up to fit his still-too-tiny-arms and assuring him that it would be fine, "you'll grow into it" and then watched how he looked at it in awe and told me about all of the parts of the firetruck (that he had learned from his two older fire-truck-loving brothers), I couldn't help but think about something else that has been brewing in my mind for the past little while...

**Waring, random ramblings about to erupt... feel free to exit the blog at any time... :)**
There, consider yourself warned...

I have been thinking lately, ya know, in all of my 8 years of mommy-hood experience ;), that I can feel myself slowly 'growing into' the mommy role.  

-- I find myself more content with little things.
-- Less flustered over the bazzilion schedule changes during the course of a 24 hour day.
-- Less likely to be mortified at the site of some of the outfit choices of the kiddos (and even secretly glad that they chose a certain outfit *insert purple wizard costume* and that they don't really care about molding to the general regular-clothes-wearing population)

-- Not quite so anal about scheduling every minute of every day
-- Able to choose my battles a bit more (or less, as the case may be)
-- And in general just loving being around my children.

Are things perfect?  Not by a long shot.  But they are better.  Not because the kids have changed, but because I find myself changing... morphing... molding... into this thing called "Mommy".  More importantly, I find myself loving the role, and finding the fit to be bit by bit more comfortable as the years go by.

As I have thought about this little inner discovery, I started to think back to how I have come to be where I am now on the mommyhood journey, and where I have learned the many (unpublished) mommyhood lessons from the (undocumented) mommyhood manual.  

And I have realized that I am, in fact, a hand-me-down mommy.  

So many lessons that I have applied, and am now trying to apply in my little mommyhood universe have been taught to me by so many incredible mothers that I have been surrounded by my entire life.  So many of you out there have handed me down so many mothering moments, and I thank you for that.  There have been so many of you that have helped me on my path to mommyhood (and continue to help me on my path) that I don't even know how to begin to thank you all and let you know some of the gratitude that I feel for the teeny-tiny lessons that you have taught me.

A few that for some reason have been hitting me a little harder lately come from those of you in my own family.

... *Warning, cheese factor about to get turned up a notch... go on at your own risk!*

I have, hands down, the most incredible examples of womanhood and motherhood in my immediate family.  I am the youngest of 7 kids, with 2 older sisters and 4 older sister-in-laws (Chelle - you count as older because you just morphed into Brians age category when you got married!). Plus a mother in law, and two more incredible sister-in-laws on my hubby's side.

We are one of those cheesy families who actually like getting together.  A lot.  
And when we get together.  I watch.  and I learn.

First of all, my mom.  
What can I say about her?  She is the epitome of motherhood.  
There is not a day that goes by where I find myself thinking, 'what would my mom do?'  I think it's safe to say that her kids are her life, and she did so many thousands of tiny things day in and day out to make our lives wonderful - things that at the time I had no idea how inconvenient it was for her.  She just did them because, well, she was the mom. 
   Like the time I moved suddenly from dorm room living to apartment living, and called her crying because I was having a hard time adjusting, and within 24 hours she was knocking on the door with a box full of pots and pans to help in my transition.  
   Or the countless games of various sports that I could look up and see her being my #1 cheerleader in the stand.  Home.  Away.  Hot.  Cold.  Early.  Late.  She was there.  (I have to admit, this thought was about the only thing that kept me in my chair on the sidelines of my own child's first freezing cold soccer game cheering away...).  I think deep down, she doesn't even really like sports (though she would never admit it openly to our sports-obsessed family!).  That act alone has built at least one floor in her mansion in heaven, I'm sure of it!

And then my sisters.  The best.  Ever.  (Well, I can say that now that I am no longer subjected to 'prickly pear cactus legs' or the pinch of death, or forced to sleep on the 'dracula' side of the bed!)

Each of my sisters is an absolutely amazing mother.  Seriously.  As in, the type that when I visit, I take a step back at each of their houses and think, "when I grow up, I want to be a mom like that!"  (and then I remember, oh no, I'm already a mom!  I'm already behind!)

Janie - I won't even talk about the fact that I'm a wee bit jealous that you could give birth to 7 children (yes, that's right, folks, SEVEN), and still be the skinniest one of the bunch!  But I also stand in complete awe at your ability to organize all of the children, serve as Relief Society President, And run a bazzilion ballroom programs, simultaneously.  I get dizzy just thinking about that schedule!
  -- with all of your many accomplishments, however, I do have to say one of the absolute most impressive to me is when I get to visit and see the day to day interaction of the kids.  These kids (remember the SEVEN kids?!).  All get along (and the majority of them are in the thick of the pre-teen to young adult age span - yes, the age span where most siblings hate each other).  Not only do they get along, but they genuinely like and care for one another.  
 -- case in point:  this last visit, I got the chance to stay up into the wee hours of the morning talking to a couple of the kids - ages 19 and 16.  I loved talking to them, but more importantly, I loved watching how they would talk with one another.  As we discussed different boys and girls, they would tell each other, "oh, I don't like him for you"  or "yes, you should go out with her, she's great."  Or even, "No, you shouldn't go out with her, she's mean to me"... and he would truly listen to her and take the insight to heart.  Amazing!
 -- to me, that speaks volumes to mommyhood - and that is one hand-me-down that I would love to grow into as my kids reach those points in life.

And then there is Julie...  the family firecracker.  (Seriously folks, if you have a party and she's not on the guest list, you may as well just cancel the party!  She's awesome!)  Just being around her makes me smile.  I secretly stock her blog just to copy some of the incredibly cute things that she does with her kiddos and make-believe that I am as creative and talented as she is :).  (C'mon, anyone who would orchestrate her husband into making real-not-cheap-plasticky bows and arrows as party gifts for their son's 'robin hood' birthday party is up there for mother (and father!) of the year award!).
... but the thing that impresses me the most is hard to put into words.  Julie is the essence of motherhood. Whenever I see her with her kids, I have the thought, "wow, I want to be a mom like that."  You can tell that she truly lives motherhood as she puts her kids needs above anything else in life and is really there for her kids, both physically, but also mentally and emotionally. 
Case in point:  Julie is a phenomenal ballroom dancer (as in touring the world in college type of dancer!).  She gave that all up in the pursuit of mommyhood.  When her oldest got into elementary school, she started a childrens ballroom program.  Not for her own benefit, or to further her own ballroom career, but to have a team for her daughter to learn the skills that she loves so much.
But that case in point doesn't even truly describe what I'm trying to explain - she just oozes motherly love, from being there at every moment that her kids need her physically, to giving her kids the comforts of life, not only temporal, but also emotional,  even at her own sacrifice in so many ways.

That is a hand-me-down that I am trying to do more of... invest not in just physically being a mom, but capturing the essence and spirit of mommyhood.

There are so many more examples I could give - from sister-in-laws, to dear friends, to casual acquaintances, of little lessons in mommyhood that have helped me to grow into this role that hopefully someday, will fit me just perfectly.  
For now, I will continue to mold and morph, roll up the sleeves when they get a bit too long
And continue to watch and learn and grow

from all of you.

Thank you so much for your hand-me-down ways of mommyhood :)


Sue Howe said...

Jen, I love you dear :)

Julie said...

Hey - no far making me cry. I was just thinking I might make it through the day! Back atcha - you are amazing. Love you.

Robin Conner said...

That was really sweet. I feel that way about you! I've already learned so much from watching you. You are a phenominal mother, and you rock sista!

Walt and Eileen said...

"You need to read Jen's blog" Dad said in place of "It's time to go to bed" as he headed upstairs.
How sweet, Jen.
I think you've morphed and molded much quicker than I did. I'd have been nothing without my eternal sweetheart inspiring and guiding me.
Love, Mom