The Velveteen Mothers

The Velveteen Mothers

Mother’s Day always finds us in the final throes of the school year, sprinting towards the finish line. We have dragged ourselves out of bed for nine months, made 857 school lunches and hustled from piano to soccer to band to tennis to whatever. And WE ARE TIRED. My kid’s shoes have a hole in the toe and our lunch menu is a choice between bottom-of-the-bag chip crumbles or an almost expired granola bar I bought last October. (Bon Appetit kiddos!) I feel the ache of exhaustion in my legs and when I glance in the mirror, my face feels it, too. “Yikes! What happened??!” I say to my haggard twin. Then my inner girlfriend says “It’s age, honey. And exhaustion. It comes for all mothers.” Huh. Well, that’s stupid.

I’m no longer the peppy, spry mother I was in my twenties. Okay let’s be honest, I was never that peppy, but definitely more limber. Five minutes in criss-cross applesauce and my hips are locked for the entire weekend. But besides that, I’ve come a long way in my decades of parenting. Being in my forties has freed me from fretting over the small things that brought me to tears when I was younger (“Whyyyyyyyyy does this kid only nap for forty-five minutes instead of the ninety minutes this author suggested?? This is VERY. STRESSFUL!!”) My age has also gifted me with more grace for myself and my friends. Parenting is hard and we are all doing our best, right??

I have found motherhood to be eerily similar to riding the Incredicoaster at Disney California Adventure. It all sounds like fun and candy when my kids convince me to join them. I jump into the car hollering like a hipster, but after ten ups and downs and one loop-de-loop, hanging from the heavens, the ride stops and “WHAT JUST HAPPENED??” I exit looking ten years older with hair like an 80s rockstar. It is the whole experience of parenting, squeezed into a turbulent five minutes. No wonder I have stress lines on my face.   

My point is this: so many of us have come a long way on this parenting journey (and this school year!) and it’s okay to feel a little tired. We have been a little roughed up! We have c-section scars on our bellies, gray hairs on our scalp, possibly some achy joints and definitely some emotional exhaustion from arguing about homework or fretting over the mental health of our beloved teenagers. But let’s not allow our energy or the mirror to zap us of our joy of motherhood. Let’s not focus on a couple trees and miss the beautiful forest around us BECAUSE IT IS THE MOST SPECTACULAR VIEW IN THE WORLD. How blessed are we to love and raise our children?? Beyond measure. ❤️

With these thoughts in mind, I recently saw an excerpt from the classic book “The Velveteen Rabbit” and saw it from a new perspective, a mothering perspective. Margery Williams says…

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Isn’t that beautiful?? The world tells mothers to get our abdominal muscles back, layer gel packs under our eyes and inject botulism into our faces so we can look like we are twenty. But I’m not in my twenties! I am in my forties and I want to be Real as I love my family and they love me back. I want to continue to become, even if I am tired and look a little older. My age is proof that I have been around the sun many times and have gone through the Incredicoaster of parenting without breaking. My edges are smooth and I am STILL here. And you are, too. ❤️ Congrats to us!!

Hoping you all feel Real and beautiful on this Mother’s Day,

(Meanwhile, I’m not sure my chip crumbles are going to last for the next three weeks so I guess I am on my way to the grocery store. Wait…wait, I just found some old fruit snacks in the pantry. We’re good…we’re good.)

The Long Walk to School

The Long Walk to School

For years I have enjoyed the writings, blogs and social media posts of parents who admit they are struggling. Some I read over five years ago but I still remember the words and feel their impact. Their honesty gave me hope and offered relief in my imperfect moments with my imperfect children. I would read them and think “I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE!”

Recently I had a tough week with one of my kids, tougher in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. I sat down and wrote about it (because I’ve always been a journaling kind of girl) and then put it aside for a while, trying to get to the root of the mess and make sense of it. Weeks later, when I glanced at my words again I felt they were too personal to share on a public blog. I thought I would keep them private and show them to my kid at a later date.

BUT WHY??? Because I am afraid of being imperfect? Because I am afraid of admitting that my kid isn’t always an angel? Wasn’t I just talking about Living the Messy Life? Am I afraid that I am the only one experiencing these kinds of days and other parents might judge me for it? And if they do, why should I care? I am thinking that maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there who needs that same hope and relief that was offered to me in the past. Maybe there is someone who needs to read this and think “I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE.”

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Wow, kid. This morning was TOUGH. Why are these early hours such a struggle for us?? All week I sensed the pressure building so I shouldn’t have been surprised when your volcano exploded at seven am. You woke up angry, you didn’t like breakfast and none of the clothes in your closet were good enough. You lashed out at your sister, screamed at me and cried about going to school. You accused me of not caring and even threatened to call my own mother to complain about me. For such a little person, the flames of your explosion travelled quite far!

Unable to process all that you are feeling, you set your sights upon me, your mother, your safe place. This morning, nothing I did was correct, every action on my account warranted a complaint or criticism. Hurtful words flew out of your mouth with the intent to injure, regardless of all I do for you EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Girl, it’s hard to hear and it’s hard to take sometimes, especially knowing you don’t treat anyone else this way! You would never say these words to your father, grandparents or teachers. Just to me, your mother.

But I know this morning wasn’t really about me. I know it’s your own heart that is hurting. I know that you are very frustrated with school and lonely without your friends from last year. I know that your teacher is different, your routine has changed and life feels out of your control. While part of me wanted to demand your respect and admonish you for your outlandish behavior, I saw what was truly happening and tried my best to love you in that realm. And then it occurred to me…

While it’s regrettable that I am your verbal target, I CAN TAKE IT. You can lash out at me and call me all the names you desire because I AM THE ADULT and I can take it LIKE AN ADULT. My self-esteem doesn’t rest on your juvenile, volatile opinion and I don’t need to get bent out of shape over your misguided anger. (I have made this mistake before and it benefited no one.) This anger is a strange backhanded “gift” of motherhood but I am choosing to accept it wholeheartedly.

Somewhere, in the middle of these explosions, lays the naked truth: whether you hug me or hit me, I’m here for the long game and you know that. You know that you can let down your guard, reveal your ugly side and still be immensely loved. AND YOU ARE. And I adore you and would take a bullet in the chest for you…But golly, why you gotta be so fiesty with me all the time?? Sigh…

Here’s the deal: I’m not naïve. I know this erratic behavior might become much worse as the years progress. Your sensitive heart feels all the highs and all the lows and I know I will be caught in some of those webs of darkness as you grow older. Friends will disappoint you, boys will break your heart, school will be tough and life will throw wrenches in your plans. There will be many days when you don’t like me and I predict there will be a number of days when I don’t like you either… but I will always love you (cue Whitney Houston).

In the future, my presence, “the safe place”, will most likely be a proverbial dumping ground. Your words towards me might become more venomous and the stings might become stronger, but I am committed to living in that place with you, not taking your actions personally and helping you grow into the person you were created to be. Your fire and determination will make you a great leader someday and I plan to be sitting in the front row, watching it all happen.

You are too young to see this from my perspective, but someday, if you become a parent yourself, you will understand that we adults have a complicated dance…

We push you forward

We pull you back

We come down hard

We nudge you gently

We yell angry words

We whisper terms of endearment

We cry with frustration

We shed tears of joy.

Sometimes we do all these things in a single hour. Parenting is a complicated job so maybe you could cut me some slack, too?? I’m not a perfect mother and I frustrate you sometimes but I am out there on the dance floor TRYING to parent you well! I feel like I deserve at least one gold star. 😉


This morning, after many of the emotions above, we finally managed to get off the floor, wipe both of our tears and fall back into our routine. With sneakers on and your backpack ready we began the long walk to school in complete silence, just you and me, watching the leaves blow and gathering up courage for the day ahead. I think you sensed that you went a little too far with me. I sensed that now wasn’t the time to replay the morning’s events. In that moment, you didn’t need a scolding but a warm hand. So I held tightly to your small grip and progressed through the neighborhood while we each pondered our morning and our world.

You and I have much ahead of us as we walk along this road, continuing to learn about life and our family and where we both fit in. New challenges and new emotions await us around each bend and this morning has allowed me to think it all through. It will be long journey, a long walk to this school of life, but you and I are in this together and I won’t let go.

a.k.a Mom

To all the mothers (and fathers) out there with “spirited” children:

Hold the line, stay strong, find some supportive friends and buy a big box of chocolate. We are raising world changers here and our efforts will be rewarded… someday… hopefully.