What Does Mama Do?

Walking with my daughter. Photo by Casey Margell
Walking with my daughter. Photo by Casey Margell

I’ve been thinking a lot about Mothers lately. I know four who will become a Mother to 3 children in the next 4 months. One of them is a blogger I admire. The others are part of my very large extended family.  Add to that a dose of Spring and curious little ones who have wondered where babies come from, and you have the prompt for this post.

At dinner a few weeks ago with my husband’s family (he’s one of 4, plus two spouses and his parents, and it’s a big table), my Father-In-Law went around the table and announced what everyone had to celebrate. He actually decided that each person would ask, then announce what the person sitting next to them had to share. Everyone cheered as we heard things like, “Steven got a new job,”  “Jennifer moved back from China and started her own business,” you get the picture – these are high achievers with Big Things happening. I started to feel really anxious because I had nothing to announce. Nothing quite as exciting or “high achieving.” As chance would have it, my 2-year-old had the duty of announcing my achievements. She didn’t really get it. So, she was asked, “What does Mama Do?” “Mama makes dinner!” she said in her sweet, excited little voice. Everyone cheered. It was sweet, but still left me feeling lame.

This week, I’ve been working on finding my focus for this blog. Yesterday I worked through “10 Ways to Find Your True Passions,” worksheet. As part of the exercise, I have to ask some friends or family what they think of when they think of me, or what I am good at doing. So, I asked my husband. His answer, “The things I am not.” True, but not what I was looking for…then, our 4-year-old decided to answer while drawing a picture nearby, “You take care of us!” True, and sweet. It was the sweetness I needed to hear. It reminded me that making dinner IS important.

All parents are important whether they are the ones who give birth to us or chose to raise us.  So, please don’t feel left out if you are not a birth Mother. One of the most inspiring mothers (and couples) I know have chosen adoption, and blog about the adventure.

Mothers hold a special place in our lives, in history, really. What do you love about your mother? What have you learned? What can you appreciate now that you didn’t at first?

Portrait of my Mother.

My mother has taught me many things both on purpose and by example. Things I do now like create new recipes, try new things, make gifts are because that’s what my mom always did. Her example showed me how.  She was once a house cleaner, and ran her own business. From her I learned at a very young age how to sweep, and clean a house quickly. I had really high expectations of myself as a result. While single and living alone, I would thoroughly clean my apartment every week. Once I had kids, I had to start letting go of dusting every week and clutter crept in and multiplied. One lesson she recently taught me was to be like a Mary not a Martha.

During a visit for a few days, my mom told me to stop cleaning. She said it in a kind way. Something like, I know I taught you to keep a clean house, but something I’ve learned is that it’s more important to be a Mary, not a Martha. Then, she reminded me of the parable in the New Testament of the Bible. From my memory and paraphrasing, it goes like this:  Jesus had stopped to visit two sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus had a story, a message he wanted to share. He sat to talk. Mary sat at his feet and began listening. Martha was a good hostess and went to the kitchen to prepare whatever it was they ate. She started to grumble to herself and ask what in the world her sister was doing…it seemed like nothing! Then, Jesus called to Martha asking her to just sit and listen. So, I’ve been trying to take that lesson to heart and not start doing the dishes immediately after a meal. To be present, sit and listen to guests, to my family is really more important.  I don’t want my children to say that Mama does the dishes. Make dinner? Yes:)

Egg card made from lots of dots and love.

What Mama-wisdom do you have to share? For every comment I get answering one of the questions in this post, I will send you an old fashioned paper card. It will be an original creation using my new found love of dots, like the one here on our Etsy Shop or to the left.  You can use it to send your mom, or someone special. And please tell me what your favorite color is. I’ll email you for an address so the whole wide world won’t have the info.

<3 Moms everywhere!

p.s. I remembered two blog posts I must share – messages that speak to my heart and to any new Mother:

Sometimes we forget how powerful our words are. This blogger is a Christian, but this post is not a Bible-thumping exercise. It is a powerful message culled from the movie, Monsoon WeddingWhat We Sometimes Forget to Protect Our Kids From

The importance of imperfection for those striving for natural living, complete with curse words (the author doesn’t hold back from being her true self) – A Love Letter to New Mamas

6 thoughts on “What Does Mama Do?”

  1. Dear Holli,

    I was reading this blog post at the end of a long, hard day at work and it made me cry…so much that I had to go hide in the restroom. You are so young and beautiful and smart, and I admire you so much. You are <> for your husband, your children, your family, and the community, and you influence and shape them all, and making the world a much better place in the process. Your presence in everyone’s life is huge! It’s beyond measure. You are out in the world every day, touching people’s lives in ways that mean so much.

    Sometimes I fantasize about the way my life could have been, and whenever I do, I think of you. I like to think that if I had only been able to stay home with my child, I might have been like you–talented, articulate, beautiful, and intelligent, but never vain about those qualities or trying to show them off…instead always caring and contributing and doing for others.

    I must have sat at my desk a hundred times over the years, uneasy and unable to concentrate on work because I didn’t know what was going on at home. Sometimes I couldn’t stand it so I got in the car and went home. I know dozens of other mothers who feel the same.

    My heart broke every time I had to leave my daughter at home a sick, or miss a recital, or a “first.” First word, first step. I missed them all. And now it’s over and there’s no going back.

    I don’t think I could have done any different than I did, so I don’t really have regrets, but I do admire you and wish to emulate you and mothers like you–so much more than all the women I know with “big” careers.

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart with your blog. It is really a wonderful blog.
    Love, JoAnne

    1. Wow, JoAnne, Thank you. Your words are powerful. I feel truly humbled by your compliments and opinion of me. I make so many mistakes, and eat my share of humble pie.

      Knowing you, I believe you did the best you could with what you had. I truly admire all single parents. I have no idea how I’d manage to be the kind of parent I am alone. You know, my mom was mostly single until just before I turned 12. I often find myself wondering how she managed to raise 3 of us without freaking out.

      You and all other single parents have my utmost respect and admiration.

      Thank you for your kind words, and encouragement.

      Truly grateful, Holli

  2. Well, I did freak out a few times. But none of it matters now because in the end, I did raise a child who grew into a wonderful, kind person who is loved by everyone.

    I know there are people who just don’t think raising kids is that big a deal, but honestly I think what a person does in the process of raising good, honest children is just about the most important contribution a person can make to this world. It will have a far wider and deeper imprint than anything else you might have done instead.

    As for mistakes, I always say, if you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not doing anything.

    1. I totally hear you on the parenting social opinion front. And, agree that raising people is one of the most important things a person can do.

      Perhaps I should have pointed out in the original post that I do love being home with my kids, and think that anyone who does IS important. I think what I was trying to express is the constant pressure our American society puts on folks to perform and achieve with measurable results, which doesn’t translate into something like being a parent where your results are years away – often unmeasurable.

      I LOVE your last sentence. It will be added to my favorite quotes. It compliments my current favorite: “Do the best you can, with what you have, where you are.” by Theodore Roosevelt.

      p.s. What is your favorite color? I have your address and want to make you a card:)

  3. I happened upon your blog from your comment on the white rice post at The Healthy Home Economist. I wanted to mention that we have the same type of issues with our almost 5 year old. Thankfully cod liver oil seems to be helping A LOT. Anyway, that has nothing to do with this post and I wanted to say that I really appreciate what you wrote here. So often it’s easy to feel so insignificant in the role as homemaker. I did a few blog posts a bit ago about the season of mothering young children. It’s such an important season but so underrated. The training up of young souls should be greatly celebrated and supported.

    Anyway, just wanted to make note of my visit. ( I also want to check out that passions worksheet, thanks for the link.)

    1. Thanks for letting me know you stopped by and are experiencing the same things. I really appreciate meeting people through the blog or via another one. I took a look at yours and will be visiting again-such cute kids and fun photos!
      You are right: growing people is one of the MOST important jobs there is…
      take care:)

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