I have this friend.
She is an incredible mom. She’s one of those moms who always knows just what to say to her kids, who always has a perky answer, and who makes it a point to spend a little one on one time with each of her children every day…and she usually accomplishes this goal!
This mom is also a great friend. I am blessed to say that she’s one of the women that is in my inner circle, the group of women that I share my real prayer requests with. She’s one of the ones that was on my front step, willing to help, when we came home with two new children who.didn’t.speak.English then a few months later when my grandma died. She’s the real deal. Love her bunches!
But today we were talking, and she said something that mystified me.
We were talking about the fact that I homeschool my kids, and she said, “But you are a gifted teacher! Teaching is obviously your gift!”
And I laughed. Then I thought about this quote from A Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising A Large Family, which I got for Mother’s Day and read from cover to cover last weekend (I had tons of time, thanks to the raging fever that took over my body and didn’t allow me to do anything but sit on the couch like a blob.)
“I’d love it if my insides matched my outsides all the time. I’d love it if I could actually feel serene all the time instead of just faking serenity. But despite what others assume about me, endless serenity is not my personal reality as a mother.”
And a couple pages later, she quotes Jenni, saying, “As the mother of almost twelve, I can say with all certainty that the most amazing part of having a large family is the fact that it drives you to your knees before the Father so often. There is no self-delusion that you can somehow “be enough” for your children…that you can somehow meet their needs…because it’s apparent 24/7 that you can’t.”
Quick plug: Loved the book and would recommend it to any mom with more than one child even though it calls itself a book for large families…and Mary doesn’t even know I am typing these things.
Back to my conversation with my friend: I began to wonder how on earth she thinks that I am gifted in this area. I’m really not. Need me to organize or sort or plan, SURE! I am your woman. I’ll even take on a classroom of kids, but that is so much more about organization and just getting through the day without anyone bleeding than it is really about teaching. One of the things that impressed me (in a not so good way) about my college education was that more of my classes had to do with classroom management than about actually teaching or how to teach or teaching theory.
I have been pondering.
I think one of the things that we moms do quite well is to sell ourselves short. We say, “Oh, I could never do that; she’s doing really well, because she’s gifted in that area!” She has a great house, because she is a gifted decorator, or she has a great yard, because she knows everything there is to know about gardening. When the reality is perhaps that she has a great yard, because she is willing to get outside and sweat it out every day to weed and prune. Perhaps she reads books or online about what and how to prune.
And sometimes it is the gardener’s fault that others think she is so great. When compliments come her way, it is entirely possible that she feigns ignorance…it seems the polite thing to do. We moms do it all the time! “Oh, this old thing!” or “I don’t really know what I am doing!” (never mind that you have devoured a hundred books about the subject and spent hours thinking about it.)
So I’m saying I don’t really know how I got here. How is it that one of my close friends thinks I am able to homeschool because I am gifted…the reality is that I am gifted at picking out and organizing curriculum and bossing my kids around, but most days I am just a s0-so teacher who is putting 200% of herself into the lesson. And I’m saying to you bloggy friend, don’t be deceived; I don’t intend to put on any front. I do what I do by working hard at it…and I fail a lot.
But I also say to you (and to me), mom, stop selling yourself short! Take on that task that you’ve been wondering about; stop waiting to be gifted. Try it. Get your big toe wet, at least. And I’m saying, stop ignoring your strengths. I’m also saying stop wondering what that mom has that you don’t have. Her garden might look great, but her breakfast dishes are still in the sink…or perhaps her kids are sunburnt from playing in the sun without sunscreen. But you know what, both of us would be happier if we could move beyond what we think of each other and to a place to mutual respect – real respect, not the kind that forgets that a lot of work went into remembering to just water the flowers! And I would be a lot happier if I could remember that I don’t have to be great at everything I do, nor do I have to make excuses for the things that I do that I am not great at.
(stepping down from my soap box now, thankyouverymuch)
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