“Isn’t this day supposed to be about ME?” I remember saying those words one frustrated Mother’s Day years ago to a husband who just woke from a nap and kids who were fighting. Sometimes Mother’s Day doesn’t feel like a celebration of mom to MOM. Yes, you could look at it as a holiday created to sell greeting cards. But there’s something about this day that makes you want to feel honored or at the very least, recognized and given a much-needed break.
Maybe you’ve uttered those words to your family in frustration. Or perhaps you relish the fact that on this one day, they are going to knock your socks off with pampering and you are not going to have to think about anything heavy.
And then you see her. The single mom in your church. Huh. Who is making sure she has a great mother’s day? And the guilt starts to whisper that you really should do something but, I mean, really, it’s your ONE day. Squirm.
Clutter Free is about clearing clutter from a lot of areas of your life including your heart and mind. And seeing a mom who needs some help shouldn’t come with a side of guilt. Yes, you still get to enjoy your day. But if you truly want to bless her too, I’ve got two amazingly simple ways:
Remind her kids they need to do something.
Or, simply tell her you see the amazing job she’s doing as a mom on her own.
Told you they were simple.
Remind Her Kids
The first Mother’s Day after my husband died, I expected to wake up to just another day of doing everything for my kids. They were a little older but let’s face it, kids often need to be reminded. So imagine my surprise when my girls, ages 12 and almost-6 surprised me with scrambled eggs, toast, and tea on a pretty platter in bed. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
I didn’t need a huge gift. I couldn’t afford to take the kids out to lunch. But the fact that they remembered me was enough to make my Mother’s Day special.
Maybe her kids just need to be reminded to do something for mom on this day. Or perhaps they need some suggestions. If you have the means, giving them a gift certificate to take the family out for dinner is great too. Or, help the kids buy her flowers or something simple. These material things are super nice however I think most moms want to feel appreciated and remembered on this day more than anything. So do what you can.
Be Her Cheerleader
Maybe you don’t know her kids well enough to be the bossy grown-up who asks what they are planning. If not, simply telling her you see all she does and you think she’s rockin’ it is another great blessing.
Being a single parent is incredibly tough. It takes lots of creativity and energy to be all things that your kids need on top of provider and caretaker of the home. Telling a single mom you think she’s doing an amazing job at it is another way to bless her on this day to celebrate moms. Simple and free, this encouragement might come at a time when she’s had a rough day or just be a delightful surprise.
So when God places that single mom in your path as Mother’s Day approaches, don’t feel guilty that you want to enjoy your holiday. That’s self-care and you, fellow mom, have earned a day, too. Instead, ask God how you can best help this single mom.
Jenn Buell is a writer, speaker, radio DJ and widowed mom of four kids who lives in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. She loves using her superpower of encouragement to cheer on other Christian single moms through her blog and podcast, “Right There With You.” You can connect with Jenn at JennBuell.com.
I made a promise to my daughter the day she was born.
As I gazed into my baby girl’s eyes for the very first time, I silently assured her:
I’m going to meet your every need.
In that sacred moment, it felt right to make such a vow. She was so tiny, and I was overwhelmed by a protective instinct so strong, I felt like a combination of Wonder Woman and the Incredible Hulk.
But if I could go back twenty-seven years and whisper a few words to my new mom self, here’s what I’d say:
No you won’t.
You won’t even come close.
We went home from the hospital the day after Annemarie was born, and oh, how I tried to honor my promise: I’m going to meet your every need.
When she was bored, I tried to be Fun Mom.
When she was sad, I tried to be Nurturing Mom.
When she broke things, I tried to be Fix-It-Fast Mom.
When she couldn’t find things, I tried to be Organized Mom.
If she needed it, I tried hard to be it.
I did a wonderful job of meeting her every need.
But then she turned two days old, and everything went haywire.
The second day after we got home from the hospital, Annemarie was fussy. I fed her. I burped her. I changed her.
I tried singing to her, but that only seemed to make her cry harder.
Finally, exhausted, I handed her over to my mother, expecting (and secretly hoping) that there would be no change.
But the transformation was both instantaneous and dramatic.
Not only did Annemarie stop crying, but as her Nana began to sing, she started to smile.
“It’s just gas,” I said, stunned and a little hurt that my child had calmed right down with someone other than me.
Now, I would love to tell you that this was the moment I recognized that my promise I’m going to meet your every need was unrealistic, foolish, and impossible to fulfill.
Unfortunately, I took it as a challenge.
And I determined to try all the harder to be the one to meet my daughter’s every need.
For the next quarter-of-a-century, I muddled through motherhood, constantly overwhelmed by self-inflicted feelings of colossal failure.
Flash forward 25 years to Annemarie’s Bachelor of Fine Arts Solo Exhibition. She’s drawn large portraits of the twenty key people in her life, each one titled with a single word that defines their connection to her.
I quickly scan the gallery walls for my portrait so I can see what label she gave me. But before I can find mine, I see Aunt Karen’s:
It takes all my willpower not to run to the restroom and burst into tears.
I didn’t get Nurturer.
Which means I didn’t meet my daughter’s need for nurturing.
I tried, by golly, I tried.
But I didn’t even come close.
I’m just not made out of nurturing stuff.
I’m made out of …
I find my portrait and read my label.
… evidently, I’m made out of Writer stuff.
Whatever that even means.
Clearly, Aunt Karen succeeded where I failed.
But what if that’s okay?
The unexpected thought crashes my pity party.
What if she didn’t need me to meet her every need?
I look at my daughter, laughing with guests who are here for her grand opening. She’s all grown up into someone I am so proud to know, let alone share genes with.
What if she just needed me to be me?
I look at the titles of the other portraits:
Mentor … Philosopher … Listener … Challenger …
And suddenly, I am overwhelmed with gratitude toward Aunt Karen and and all the other people who have poured into to my daughter’s life, meeting needs that I never could.
The truth begins to settle into my heart:
She really didn’t need me to meet her every need.
Accepting the Truth
So if you’re a mom who feels like she’s constantly falling short? letting her kids down? never even coming close to meeting all their needs?
Lean in close, and let me whisper this truth to you:
Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.” Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and Overwhelmed.
Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (23), also opposite personalities.
Cheri blogs about perfectionism, people-pleasing, highly sensitive people, and hope at www.cherigregory.com.
Ever feel like the digital age has taken over your life and the lives of your loved ones? Listen in as Kathi interviews Arlene Pellicane to discuss Arlene’s new book, “Calm, Cool and Connected”. Learn five digital habits for a more balanced life and how to tame the modern tools to take back our lives. Forming new habits, we can learn to navigate the digital world and prioritize loved ones, as well. Leave a comment on our website to be entered to receive a free copy of Arlene’s new book.
The everyday ins and outs of parenting toddlers, to boundary pushing elementary schoolers, to moody pre-teens, to rebellious almost adults is trying and just plain hard. Erin and Ellen talk about dealing with our kids using not just using justice, but also mercy, and grace- the very ways God deals with us. They discuss why these options give us and our children a better foundation for living out the life God intended for them and help us to truly get to the heart of our kids.
Comment to win. What is your biggest challenge when it comes to the justice, mercy and grace of disciplining and raising your kids? Comment below for your chance to win a free book!
“No act of kindness no matter how small is ever wasted.” Aesop
Many of us are looking for ways to be generous. In fact, it’s one of the most asked questions we get: “How can I be generous when I don’t have extra income it takes ?” The good news is, generosity doesn’t require money. Many time the most meaningful acts come in giving of your time, space, or energy.
Kathi and co-host, Erin MacPherson, talk about how you can be generous when you don’t have a lot of extra money. They encourage us to look at what you can give and the various ways you can be show you care for others without reaching into your purse. Both Kathi and Erin share things that have been done for them that meant the most and the different ways in which they give of what they have. Listen in for an uplifting episode that encourages you to use your gifts to be generous in our own unique way.
What happens on family night … stays on family night. At least that’s what we said the night I dramatically pantomimed changing my adult daughter’s diaper. It was the final round of Cranium. If my husband guessed correctly, our team would take the win. If not, it was sure to go to the other team.
In the last few seconds, he shouted, “Changing a diaper!”
I raised my hands in victory. “Yes!”
The other team groaned as my husband moved our player piece into the winner zone. My daughter got up off the floor, red-faced and raspy from screeching/laughing.
Now, whenever we decide to play a game on family night, her older siblings (and brother-in-law) always tease her with, “Let’s play Cranium.”
And she always spits back “No!,” much to their delight.
Creating a fun family night
Family night has been a thing in our family since the kids were little. Now that they’re all out on their own, they still love it. So do my husband and I. I credit family night for one of the main reasons we’re a close family.
It hasn’t always been easy. But I’ve learned some things (sometimes the hard way) to make weekly family nights an event they won’t want to miss.
1) Yummy food. If your kids still live at home, this is a night to put something special on the menu. When mine were little, they’d beg for pizza — an obvious way to make the meal fun for them.
There are other nights for “eat your vegetables” and “try it — you’ll like it.” Family nights are a great reason to put out those “Yay! Best mom ever!” foods.
Now that mine are young adults on a meager food budget, anything that isn’t Ramen noodles or Kraft macaroni and cheese puts a smile on their faces. I usually make this my night to put more effort into cooking dinner. It’s also our one dessert night of the week.
Whatever their age, choose a menu (or restaurant) that will be sure to lure them to the table.
2) Fun activity. Don’t let the night end with everyone slipping away after dinner and melding with their devices. Planning an activity keeps the conversation going, often getting into the deeper issues of life. We’re fond of board games, so it doesn’t take much to entice them to play a round or two. Sometimes we’ll hike at a local landmark or head to the nearby city park if the weather’s nice.
Some weeks, like Easter week, we’re simply exhausted. Those are great times to head to the theater or rent a movie to watch at home. This weekend, my heart melted when my youngest curled up next to her dad on the couch like she did as a little girl.
3) Safe conversation. Speaking from some of the most painful parenting lessons I’ve ever learned, I highly recommend saving the difficult conversations for later. Most issues can and should be dealt with individually, but if it’s truly a family matter, we schedule a family meeting.
We work hard at cultivating positive interaction, with more encouragement than correction. For me, the work is especially hard, since I didn’t grow up in a positive environment; too many times I’ve repeated the mistake of being too harsh with my children. Often, it takes intentional work on the parents’ part to create a supportive and affirming family environment.
I’ve watched the work pay off not just on family nights, but throughout the week as well. Recently, one of our adult kids sent us all a group text before a big job interview and instantly got 100% response with many variations of, “You go, girl!”
One Small Win: Whether your kids are just barely old enough to sit at the table, or if they have dining room tables of their own, family nights are a great way to create great memories and foster closeness.
And if you ever find yourself playing Cranium and draw the “pantomime changing a diaper” card?
Do it with gusto.
Your family will be talking (and laughing) about it for months to come.
Lyneta Smith is an inspirational writer and speaker who lives with her husband near Nashville, TN. Some of her favorite things to write in her planner: date nights and family time with her adult children. She’s owned by a frisky Boston terrier and a tortoiseshell cat. Connect with her at www.lynetasmith.com.