Dear Sympathetic Sir,
I guess we were quite a sight, huh? A wide-eyed seven year old talking at top volume, a giggly five year old in her shadow, a tiny toddler running ahead with excited screams, and then me bringing up the rear. I get it; I do. I probably even knew what you were gonna say before you did. After all, I’ve heard it hundreds of times before, and I smiled when you looked upon us and uttered, Three? Bless your heart!
A couple of years ago I might not have smiled back so sincerely. See, back then I even kinda took a remark like yours offensively. I’d think, I’ve got this, mister!! You don’t have to worry about me!!
I mean, I had made the decision to have each one of my children, and knowing full well the huge responsibility of parenthood, I found it unnecessary for me to be the object of other’s pity. Yeah, I was busy, even overwhelmed, but I took a “bless your heart” with about as much pleasure as I took a “you do know what causes that, right” when I was pregnant again. Seething rage. I knew what I was getting into, doggone it, and I didn’t need any well-meaning stranger or acquaintance feeling sorry for something I wholeheartedly enjoyed.
So how did I genuinely smile at your remark? Well, I reckon like anything, time changes a person. After spending a couple of years as a mom of three girls, close in age, and after watching their particular and challenging personalities emerge I had discovered a lot about myself. The most humbling, I suppose, was learning that I had no idea what I was doing much of the time. So even though I had prayerfully planned each pregnancy with my spouse, in the end I still didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea how hard it would really be! I had no clue how one sister could be so different from the other, or how instead of getting easier, it got harder.
To tell you the truth, most days I’m a mess! Yes, it’s wonderful. I love it, and I wouldn’t change a thing, or trade my life with anyone else’s for even a moment. But dang, it’s challenging. I’m on this learning curve, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get things totally figured out. So if you want to bless my heart, by golly, I’ll take it. I need all the blessings I can get.
Today’s society is all about strong women who don’t need anything from anyone. I am woman, hear me roar, and whatnot. But I’ll be honest; I’m not too proud to admit it. This mom thing is hard. I could definitely use your prayers, kind thoughts, blessings, and smiles. Heck, I’ll take a gallon of chocolate chip ice cream if you’re offering that.
So I guess what I want to say is this. Thank you. Thank you for taking the time to see the chaotic, but beautiful journey I’m on. Thank you for noticing my sacrifice, but also my gift. Thank you for understanding that mommas are amazing, but that we also need all the bless your hearts we can get. A mother’s heart is huge and her role enormous. So any favor you want to dole out my way is mightily appreciated.
Being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever loved, the most challenging endeavor I’ve ever enjoyed, despite the frustrations. Mothers should be proud of how skilled they are in the task God has given them, but never so smug that we can’t take praise. After all, bless your heart is just another way of saying, “wow, you’re doing great with that!”
Or that’s how I choose to take it.
A tired, but abundantly joyful mom
This article originally appeared at BrieGowen.com.