Hey, Mom! I Like You.
- Peyton Garland iBelieve Editor
- Published Mar 11, 2022
This isn't just for Kelly, the brave, selfless woman who birthed and raised me. Today, you, dear reader, are Mom too because I have a special message for each of you, one that I look forward to processing when the tables turn and I have a child of my own.
In the early stages of your child's development, you'll hear them babble a precious, heartfelt "I love you, Ma-ma." It'll be full of slobber, too many syllables, barely translatable, but you'll know it because they look to you for all things. They need you for food, clothing, shelter, and safety. And you're there. And you're doing an amazing job.
No doubt, you feel tired, worn out, disheveled, grumpy, moody, and that's allowed so long as you are in this human flesh. But I want to take time to remind you to soak in those sweet, pure words, "I love you, Ma-ma." Soak them in because even on the hard days, when you don't have the energy to clean crayon marks off the wall or you lock yourself in the bathroom for two minutes just to breathe, you still deserve your baby's love.
Give yourself some credit, Ma-ma.
Thankfully, I left my teenage years behind a while back, and though I'm that millennial who wore bright purple eyeshadow and thought everything should be decked in zebra print, I can still look back on those years, bypassing my fashion faux pas, to remember Mom. She wasn't Ma-ma anymore. She was Mom. She was the lady who so patiently tolerated me as hormones waged wars in the household and boys broke my heart and left me angry at everyone, including her.
At fourteen years old, I told my mom I hated her. That's still, years and years later, one of my biggest regrets. Yet, this mistake allowed me to realize just how much Kelly loved me. She stayed when I hurled the ugliest words, the ugliest attitudes, her way. So, dear Mom, you might just hear some fierce, hurtful words as your child navigates the teen years, but keep loving them. This doesn't mean you condone bad behaviors, but keep showing up for them on hard days and remind yourself that deep, deep down, they love you.
Without a doubt, when harsh words like these fill the room with heartbreaking tension, it's hard to imagine that love still thrives. But may I offer you a gentle thought? They wouldn't show up to the conversation with such passion, with such force, with such wild, angry words, if you didn't play an integral role in their life. You matter enough that they come to you with their worst because they trust your love will abide even in the face of their biggest mistakes.
"I hate you," might just be your teen's way of saying, "I'm hurt. And you're the only one I trust while I let it all out."
Your teen needs you, Mom.
When I was twenty-four, my husband and I had only been married for one year. His new job as a pilot had toted him away from home for months on end, leaving me to man and woman the house 24/7. I was bitter, tired, crushed that I was robbed of newlywed bliss. Though my husband couldn't always answer my phone calls, flying thousands of feet in the air limiting cell reception, Momma was always on the other end of the phone, ready to take my calls.
She was always there to let me vent, but she also cared enough about me to call me out when I was in the wrong: "You can't blame Josh for this. He's doing what's best for both of you. Just hang on." Kelly loved me with an honest, purifying love in these times. And if it wasn't for her, I'm not sure how whole I would have remained on the other side of that desperate season of loneliness.
It was then that I bought her a refrigerator magnet that reads, "Mom, you were right about everything." Sure, I didn't always want to hear what she was saying. The truth, when said in love, cuts the deepest because it calls the soul to repentance. (Hence Jesus' sacrifice of raw, refining love wooing us to turn our lives around.) But in this early phase of adult years, I recognized Mom as a woman who had experienced similar things, a military wife who knew loneliness, so perhaps she knew what she was talking about. And I owed her love and respect for her willingness to share life advice.
Your adult children, the ones who have no clue what they're doing, recognize your wisdom, Momma. Even if they don't buy you a refrigerator magnet.
"I like you, Mom. You're my best friend." This is how I picture this woman after years and years of navigating life. She's known what she was doing the whole time, even if she didn't feel like it. She did a great job too. And you've done a great job, Mom.
I've loved my mom my whole life, but now she's my best friend. And I like her too. It's not a love birthed by mere allegiance of biological sequence. It's no longer a love that hinges on her supplying life's necessities or dropping me off at the movies. It's simply because she's been the most loyal person to me, even at my worst, so now, I want to be her friend. I genuinely, with all my heart, like this lady.
You might not get a phone call every day, Mom. You might not hear "I like you." In fact, your fully grown, adult children might not be on God's path for them. There could be some strained tension, the kind that only comes when your child is old enough to make big decisions that can break your heart. But let me remind you of one thing: you've stayed. Even at their worst. You've been Mom and continue to be Mom, just like the prodigal son's father.
And just as the prodigal son came limping home, your child knows that truth and love and light are always found at home, in Mom's arms. Your adult child still loves you, Mom. You're still the best friend they will ever have. With patience and prayer, remember: you've done a fantastic job. You will forever be your baby's best friend.
My husband and I have been told, over and over again, that we will never be fully prepared to have kids. There's no manual, no one-size-fits-all, prepackaged Baby Survival Kit. And what a hard but humbling truth! Moms, you do the best you can with your limited knowledge, growing as your child grows, learning as they learn, and all the while, you continue to let God's love lead you. That's what makes you golden. That's what makes you Wonder Woman. You lead with love and no matter what your child says or does, they'll forever adore you for being Mom.
You're a rockstar today! I admire you, I cheer you on, and I hope, one day, that I can embody the selfless love that each of you showers on your children.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/evgenyatamanenko
Peyton Garland is an author and Tennessee far mama sharing her heart on OCD, church trauma, and failed mom moments. Follow her on Instagram @peytonmgarland and check out her latest book, Tired, Hungry, & Kinda Faithful, to discover Jesus' hope in life's simplest moments.
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You can read Rhonda's full article here!