The life of a mom is quite ordinary most of the time. We do the things that we are supposed to do for our kids. We keep them alive. We feed them, clothe them, and teach them about life, manners, and story. We do laundry and unload the dishwasher. We grocery shop and clean the toilet. At the end of the day, we collapse like all the hard working people across the world, knowing that we will wake up to another day of much of the same thing.
To our kids, we are so many things. Caretaker, storyteller, blanket finder, PB&J maker...but how much do they know about us before we became ‘MOM’? I think about my own mother. When I imagine her life before she had kids, it is kind of a mystery. I got little glimpses of it growing up, like the way she put on lipstick or when she would cook an exquisite dinner for company. These little symbols that say to the world, there is more here than meets the eye. Moms are women of hidden talents.
We don’t mean to hide who we are or change for our kids, but it just happens sometimes. Priorities ladies, am I right?
My kids don’t know the me who studied math every Friday and Saturday night in college instead of attending parties because I was so driven academically. The books they hear me reading now are The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Spot Goes to the Library and the Jesus Storybook Bible, all of which have very little calculus or graph theory.
They don’t see the me who was newly married, newly ex-pat, working split shifts in a hotel restaurant in the Lake District in Northern England. They just know that I run around the kitchen balancing the orders of three demanding customers, three times a day and don’t shy away from the spills and spit-up that come.
They don’t know the girl who lived in France and the UK, who traveled to South Africa and Uganda. They don’t know all my stories of train travel, border crossings, and cultural faux-pas. All they know as that we used to live in the same city where Mary Poppins and Peter Pan take place.
They don’t see the youth worker me, who planned crazy games and events, who led prayers and preached sermons, who led worship and camps. They just see the goofy mom who will dance and make a fool of herself simply to make them smile. And the mom who talks about Jesus a lot and stops play time to pray for the little foot that stepped on a lego or our friends who are having a hard time overseas.
They don’t see the singer/performer/songwriter who did musicals and concerts, sang in choirs and talent shows. We just sing songs from the movies and toddler radio, and make up our own words like Cartman on Southpark, creating a funny and yet perfectly normal soundtrack to our lives.
They don’t see all these things because it is hard to see past the end our noses—to quote Mary Poppins herself—when we are only two-feet-tall. But even if they don’t see the real me, the old me, the hidden accomplishments and passions that are mine, they do create a life for me based upon observation and imagination that ain’t so bad.
When I put on my sparkly shoes, I am Cinderella going to the ball. When I hide under the table, I am a bear in a cave hungry for little boys and balloons. When I actually take the time to do my hair and make-up and put on a dress, they think I’m the most beautiful woman in the world—whether I’m feeling that way or not—and that is amazing.
Someday they will learn more about me, but it isn’t that important. Just because I know them better than anyone in the world, doesn’t mean it will always be so, or will be reciprocated. I think it is important sometimes to just say out loud to myself that I am capable of other things than raising little boys. I am able to contribute something to the world outside of the amazing contribution of my children, which I know are really the best part of me. And my boys will know someday some of these things, but not all of it, because time changes everything. And it changes me.
It is true that God knows me, sees me and hears me. His memory does not fail him nor do my actions surprise him. Those hidden talents, he put them there, like the careful creator that He is. He gave me these gifts not just for the world to see but so I can be exactly the kind of mom my kids need me to be. Maybe my talents aren’t so hidden after all, they are just seen through a different lens, used differently for a time and a sweet, small-person purpose.