Mothering Outside of the Lines
by Angela Hougas
“I don’t see myself as the mom-type,” my friend mused ironically as her toddler dashed around the room and her belly bulged with twins. I was grateful to hear that someone else felt the same way that I had for so long. In my mind, there is a mother-type: Moms who are always ready with a Kleenex or a wipe. Moms who buy minivans before the home pregnancy test kit can eek out its message. Moms who make their pre-term peace with the sacrifice of sleep and self. “After all, it’s just a season, they grow up so quickly!” they gush from behind a shopping cart filled with goldfish crackers and juice. Moms who effortlessly grow to become classroom mothers, booster club presidents and eventually, doting grandparents.
I, on the other hand, am still clawing and scratching for any spare moment to collect my thoughts, should there still be any available for gathering. But there’s nothing wrong with “mother-types.” And a pinch of jealousy has often had me wishing that I was one. For some reason, I’ve balked at convention that would have me driving a minivan or call me a soccer mom. I don’t want to wear sensible shoes, scrapbook or watch Oprah. But with four kids ages 1 to 22, I’m definitely a mom, whether I feel like one or not!
Does lacking these traits mean I’m depriving my kids? I’ve wasted a lot of time through the years berating myself for not be willing or able to “fall into line” with what I’ve imagined to be a uniform code of mother conduct. Not only this, but also I had erected a wall of sorts, one brick of self-imposed judgment at a time, between “me” and “them.” This kept me from forming friendships that could have been rich and helpful in those early years of mothering.
My fear of losing myself behind the wheel of a minivan wasn’t about minivans. The only person trying to stuff me in a box that didn’t fit was me. As it turns out, we can’t help but bring our personalities into our parenting. I’m an artistic, non-methodical person, and this colors the way we do life together at my house.
Somewhere, along the way, I’ve come to a peaceful place of appreciation for the things I can give my children, such as: spontaneous adventures, art projects and experimental cooking. Sure, they’re losing out on the blessings of having a super-organized and structured family life. But they are experiencing the blessings that come with being raised by the mother who God planned for them to have — wrinkled jeans and all.
Angela enjoys being a wife to Bob and work-at-home mother to Caroline (1), Elisabeth(10), Logan(15) and stepson Nick(22).