Dear Veteran Mom
|Photo by Jessica Wentworth Photography|
I see you sipping your coffee calmly, both hands free; as you no longer have a baby in one arm and a diaper bag in the other.
I see you reading, taking each moment to scour over every, meaningful word.
I see you bright eyed and rested as your children no longer require your presence to get to sleep at night.
I see you asking your child to do something and watching them complete the task.
I see you taking heartfelt moments to listen to the details of your friends' lives without the inevitable interruption of "mom!?"
I see you taking time to laugh about days gone by.
I see you glance in my direction in the church service or standing in groups, as my child yells out or weaves in between you and your important conversations.
I see you running the marathon, taking a yoga class, focusing on your career, connecting with your spouse, and finally taking care of yourself.
I see you saying "no" to another event, another responsibility, another project because you're ready to focus on what's important.
I see you watching me with nostalgia from the side of the pool as you sure do miss "those days."
I see you finishing a task, a meal, a sentence, a...thought.
I see you and I wish you knew the kind of wisdom, power, and grace you hold within you. I wish you knew you have the ability to both slay and allay.
Let me explain...
When my children are misbehaving and I'm dragging them out of the play area, through the parking lot, missing shoes - I swear I can feel your glares. They make me want to disappear into the cracks in the sidewalk because that would be easier than the heat from your disapproval.
Yet, when you take a moment to gather the scattered shoes, hold the door open, carry the diaper bag, or say, "You can do this!" I suddenly have hope because I know you know.
I know you know.
I am so hungry. Hungry for your wisdom. Not wisdom from society, not from strangers, not from peers, not from Facebook, not from men.
I hunger for respect from wiser, more confident, more experienced moms. Women who have not only stood where I stand - but survived to tell the tale; women who remember the soul crushing struggles and the heart bursting joy.
I hunger for your empathy. The kind of connection that requires you place yourself in my shoes. Not to determine how you would feel if you were me, but to truly try to understand what it is like to be me because no two mothers are the same. The only way to have this kind of connection is to get to know me, not stand from afar and offer unsolicited advice.
I know you think you don't have time, you have "been there done that," and we have nothing in common. I realize you may feel like we are light years apart and you may even think that I won't listen to what you have to say.
But there is nothing like the pat on the back, word of encouragement, and appreciation from another mom.
Sure, older moms are veterans.
But, what exactly makes a mom a veteran? Here are two questions to consider:
Have you ever been pregnant?
You've seen the two pink lines on the pee stick, felt the flutter of a kick, or folded little clothes the size of your hand. You've seen that tiny flicker of light on the screen and felt your eyes well with tears as you heard the whoosh of a heartbeat.
Do you have a child?
You have spent all night with a baby on your chest just so they would stop crying. You have waited up to hear the key in the door from a teenager out past curfew. You have fallen in love with a face in a picture and traveled across cities, towns, oceans, and continents because you knew they were yours. You have opened your home and your heart to a child and had them leave before you reached the 24 hour mark. You have signed a marriage license knowing you weren't just marrying a husband, but also his children.
If you can answer yes to either of these questions then the veteran mom is you.
The veteran mom is me.
There are times I sip my coffee calmly and write my words, carefully. I haven't had a diaper bag in years - and know I never will again.
It is easy to think that in order to consider myself a veteran my children have to be adults. But the problem with thinking I practically have to be a grandmother before I know anything about motherhood is I miss out on the wisdom I possess right now.
And so do the moms sitting beside me.
Every mother is a veteran to the mom one sleepless night behind her.
Let's see one another. Hear one another. Know one another.
Together, all of us, mothers. We are veterans.
Heather is married to a funny blue devil, mom to three lively boys, and singer both on stage and in her child's ear. She is the owner of Kaloupek Counseling, LLC a private practice offering mental health services to children, teens, and adults in Decatur, IL. You can read more about her, her blog, and counseling practice here. Want to reach out? Send her an email! She would love to hear from you!