I never imagined myself as a soccer mom. But there I was on the sidelines of my son Jack’s final game of the season, riveted by the proceedings before me.
One of Jack’s teammates had just kicked the soccer ball toward him—Was it a pass? Hard to say at five years old. Jack took possession of the ball and drove it to the goal. From the sidelines I roared, “GO SHARKS!”
The strength of my own voice surprised me. I am not a sports person, nor did I ever think I’d become engrossed by this game. Yet, when Jack said he wanted to try soccer, I accepted my fate. In the middle years, motherhood often means being a spectator to who your child’s becoming.
With one swift kick, Jack scored. Cheers erupted from our side. I jumped from my seat in excitement. A grin spread across my lips. I cheered again, “GO JACK!”
This is motherhood: a role that challenges us, changes us, and gifts us with unexpected joy. We often hear about motherhood’s hardships, however, being a mom also gives us a front row seat to the most miraculous, beautiful, and happy moments of our kids’ lives.
So, in honor of Mother’s Day—but appropriate for any day—we’re highlighting the joys of motherhood we can’t help but celebrate, and giving you prompts to reflect on the delights of your mothering journey. Give yourself permission to pause in the midst of your busy day. Open up your journal, laptop or phone, and capture your thoughts, memories, and revelations about some of motherhood’s most joyful moments.
Holding your baby for the first time
My second son was born during a scheduled C-section, and the first time I held him skin-to-skin, I was resting in a maternity suite. I remember nuzzling his crown and inhaling his sweet, intoxicating scent. Heat radiated from his tiny body and I felt its heft in my arms. My husband and I had waited years for our second child and now he had finally arrived. A deep sense of peace and awe washed over me.
Do you remember the first time you held your baby in your arms? Take a moment to look at pictures from the day you met them. How did it feel in your body? In your heart?
Marveling at milestones
Witnessing our children’s milestones is a bittersweet kind of magic. One day they’re crawling across the carpet towards you, and not long after, you’re chasing them at the playground. Whenever our littles master a new skill, they make us beam with pride. At each stage of childhood, there’s a new developmental leap to marvel at, and though that means new hurdles to overcome, there’s also new opportunities for connection and fun. Such transitions can also provide us with a fresh start and more time for ourselves.
Can you recall a developmental milestone that brought you great joy? When your child met it, how did your rhythms and relationship change for the better?
Hearing your little one call you “Mama”
My oldest is now 6 years old, but I can still picture the excitement in his eyes when he called me “Mama” for the first time. After a year of being mothered by me, my baby boy knew my name! I gathered my son up in my arms and cried, “That’s right, baby! I’m your mama!” There’s something miraculous about becoming “Mama” to our kids. It’s a weighty name, yes, but also one that signifies nurture, fun and lasting love.
Now my youngest calls me “Mama” and I am “Mom” to my oldest. Although they often call out to me in need—of hugs, snacks or assistance—on good days, I remember it’s a privilege to be called. In the tone of their small voices, I hear my name and know it means I’m their safe place to land.
What do your children call you? Does their call for you make you cringe or smile? For most of us, I imagine, it’s a little bit of both.
Benefiting from their newfound independence
On a particularly hard parenting day, I asked a friend, “How long until kids are really independent?” Her daughter was two years ahead of my son and seemed so mature; a far cry from my then-threenager.
“When they can wipe their own butt,” she chuckled. “Maybe around five?”
The comment made me laugh as well, and I never forgot it. Years later, I know my friend was right. While some childhood changes are difficult to move on from, there are other transitions that bring utter delight (I’m looking at you, post-potty training days!). Seeing my boys become more independent is sort of like previewing a movie I can’t wait to watch.
Think back on the times your children have gained more independence, such as when they began feeding themselves or when they could visit a friend’s house for a drop off playdate. How did that make raising them easier or more joyful? How did your relationship change for the better?
Sharing your passions with each other
There’s a piece of parenting advice I learned from Shauna Niequist in her latest book, I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet. She wrote, “Be enchanted by whatever’s currently enchanting your child.”
Be enchanted by whatever’s currently enchanting your child.
Thanks to my children, I’ve gained an appreciation for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, discovered the joy of LEGOs, and learned to love graphic novels. Whatever my sons are passionate about, I want to know about it, because knowing what they love helps me love them better. Likewise, sharing my passions with my boys brings me joy and expands their world. I’ve shared the Lutheran faith that anchors my outlook, a love of music and a passion for creativity with them. Then there are the passions we share, like experiencing nature and storytelling.
What do your kids love that you might not have otherwise discovered? How can you learn about and become enchanted by their hobbies and interests? Are there passions you love that you could invite your child to discover?
Enjoying family celebrations
One of the dreams I had for myself before I got married included passing down and starting my own family traditions. The family I grew up in had many, including opening one early present every Christmas Eve and every summer, visiting my grandparents in the south.
Once I had kids I realized the vast amount of work that went into cooking up holiday magic and birthday parties. Though party planning and hosting isn’t my greatest gift, I’ve learned that investing in family celebrations cultivates deep joy and lasting memories.
What traditions and holidays does your family mark? How do you make them special?
Forging new friendships
Making friends as an adult can be challenging. When we first become moms, we might feel isolated and lonely. Yet, as our kids grow, there are ample opportunities to connect with other moms. The neighborhood playground hang, school pickup, extracurriculars including sports teams and more formal moms’ groups are all spaces to cultivate community.
Friendships with other moms sweeten the sour parts of motherhood, and offer support, advice and room to vent about the highs and lows of raising kids. Is there anything more joyful than seeing a mom-friend at the playground or meeting her for coffee? Bonus points if your kids get along. As your kids see you nurture friendships, they learn to create their own. Seeing our kids make their own friends and find their people is another gift to celebrate.
Who are you happy to know now that you wouldn’t have otherwise known without motherhood? How will you continue to nourish those friendships?
Growing and changing—together
I’m learning that, as my kids age, there’s so much more to enjoy and discover. As moms, we might think that our growth takes a backseat to theirs, but at every milestone met, I believe we grow and change as much as our kids. As I root for Jack from the soccer sidelines, I’m rooting for my own becoming, too.
Just this year I surprised myself and joined the choir at my church. When I’m at choir practice or on stage leading worship, I’m more than a mom. What’s more, my kids get to see me in a role separate from “Mom” and from my work as a writer, simply relishing the joy of music.
What do your kids see you enjoying? And how has motherhood made you grow as a person?
Here’s to celebrating your becoming, too.