I just returned home from a ten day trip from Japan. My brothers and I took my mom home to see where she went to school, grew up and met my dad. We went to the mountains, saw Mt. Fuji and rode the bullet train. We got to see family, eat amazing food and immerse in the culture of the country we are proud to have our roots. I got some souvenirs, bought clothes in Tokyo and got some bullet train chopsticks.
But there was one thing I really, really wanted to bring home that I didn’t get: a Japanese baby.
In less than a month all of my children will be teenagers. My time with cute little people is over. Carrying a baby in a little back-packy thing will never happen again (not that my forty-something back and runner’s knees could handle the additional weight). Good-bye pacifiers, hello deodorant, pimple cream and new drivers.
As I watched those sweet little Japanese babies in subways, malls and shrines I realized with sadness that that season of my life, mothering and family is over. A samurai sword to the forehead seemed like it would be less painful than accepting that reality.
One of the reasons I wanted to write for MKE Moms Blog, even though I am the oldest contributor and have the oldest children, was to bring perspective. I want to offer what was given to me by seasoned mothers at the Mothers of Preschoolers group I attended when my kids were small. It is easy to get consumed with potty-training, making the “right” foods and ensuring our kids are registered for the “right” preschool, sports, cooking, music, exercise, dance and swimming classes.
I needed and still need someone who has survived mothering to remind me to give more attention to my kids’ character than their clothes.
I need a wise older mom to assure me I’m doing a few things right, to sweetly but humbly offer ideas that worked for them, to help me get my priorities right and to just let me cry sometimes.
I know if I had “borrowed” a Japanese baby (stolen sounds so harsh), I would definitely do some things differently. I would not have taken myself and my parenting so seriously. I would have spent more time on the floor, in the sand and playing with my kids instead of always cleaning up after them. I would have stayed in my pajamas longer, worried about other mom’s opinions less and I would have gotten a nicer camera earlier.
I also know if I would have brought a Japanese baby home, in ten years I would still have a list of things I should have done differently. But that’s another thing I need to do differently.
Moms, we need to give ourselves more grace.
Although we want to parent better, be nicer and always learn more, we also need to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt, realize this job is the hardest job on earth and give ourselves the grace we so quickly give to everyone else. One of my favorite mothering Bible verses says, “…there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8). Today let’s all mother a little more sweetly, a little less hurried and without cleaning quite as much. Then let’s look at ourselves with the love, grace and adoration that our kids do (most days) and know we did the best we could and rejoice that by God’s grace, we will so somethings a little differently tomorrow too.