So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

When my daughter was about 14 months, we went to the beach with my mother-in-law and some of her close friends to celebrate her birthday. The beach we went to had a hard, crashing surf. I looked at it and decided most of our day would be spent closer to the calm of the tide pools. When we did head down to the waves, I picked up my child and held her close. I anticipated the thunderous crashes of the waves would frighten her. I expected the shocking cold of the Maine Atlantic waters would be uncomfortable for her. We got close to the surf so she could closely watch the waves roll and roil their way toward us. She exploded in laughter and leaned her body toward the waves. She struggled against my arms. She wanted to be in the sand. I put her down and held both her hands. She laughed and ran right toward the ocean. My tiny beloved being ran right into the roaring, wild sea. She laughed as the waves lapped around her legs. I scooped her up and together we headed straight into the pounding surf. She squealed with delight as each wave hit us, as we jumped against the push of the ocean.

Every particle of my being wants to protect my child. I want to steer her from harm and provide her with a shield from the dangerous things in the world. I looked at the sea and saw it’s turbulence and unforgiving power. I looked at my daughter and saw how incredibly small and vulnerable she appeared. But, that’s not what she saw. My daughter saw something incredible, the greatness of waves crashing to shore. She felt her own bravery and joy. She was mighty and strong.

I often think about what sort of parent I want to be. The instinct to cling to my child and protect her from every harm is strong. But, I don’t want that to be my defining characteristic as a parent. I have to defy my biological instinct to be the kind of parent I want to be. I want my daughter to know her own strength. I want my daughter to take risks equipped with the intelligence and groundedness I see in her every day. I want my daughter to be inspired by what is out there in the world, not fearful of it. I always want her to feel the vastness of her spirit when she encounters great or even terrifying things.

This makes for a very beautiful story. But it is hard. How does a parent ever quiet her fear and worry for her kid? Sometimes I ask my fear to go away. It seems to come back almost immediately and with an even louder voice. Sometimes I ask my worry to simply speak a little quieter than the part of me that wants my child to express her independence. That works sometimes, but not often. Often, I just sit there and listen to my fear rattle on. And I say “yes, dear, I hear you” even though my worry can carry on for a very long time. It’s an earful. But my fear says other things to me, like the fact that she’s there because I love my child. My worry knows the strength and depth of my love. That’s why she begins her chatter. To remind me of what is deeply important to me.

For whatever reason, there is this idea that we can and should rise above our fears. That bravery is only a thing earned by those that have managed to silence their fears. I don’t buy this story for a second. Here’s a story I prefer: being brave means hearing your fears yet still moving forward with what you believe is the right thing. All the while those fears continue to buzz around in your head. It’s listening to your worries ramble on and saying, “OK, thanks for that, but I’m gonna do this other thing.”

I have experienced  beautiful moments with undercurrents of fear. I have had joyful times with tinges of worry at the edges. I am learning how to experience these complex, multifaceted moments without feeling the need to chase away the darker feelings. The day at the beach was full of joy, fear, awe, and surrender. I held onto my daughter while I let her go. I laughed with her while taking in occasional nervous sharp breaths. There were opposing forces to reckon with. There was much to welcome into my heart. Complexity is inherent in the most meaningful of moments and can only be embraced as the woven braid that it is.

You may also like: 

To the Mom With the Anxious Soul

The Painful Truth I’m Hiding as a Mom With Anxiety

Want more stories of love, family, and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here!

Ethan Somerman

Ethan Somerman is a blogger, parent, monster hugger, and firm believer that broken hearts are beautiful. You can follow her blog and sign up for her emails at www.HuggingMonsters.com. She teaches yoga, bakes a lot of popovers, and goes on many adventures with her daughter in Southern Maine.

These Are the Sick Years

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom kissing head of sick toddler

I’m still in the trenches of toddlerhood, and yet, I already know I will look back on my daughter’s preschool years with affection for what it is: sweet, fun, curious, and undeniably precious. What I won’t miss about this stage is that it’s germy. SO germy. The preschool years bring endless crud into our home. Crud that is heartbreaking when your beloved child’s body is working hard to fight it off, but that also works its way into other bodies. The adults in the home who have jobs and responsibilities, run the entire household and have just endured the emotional...

Keep Reading

I’m Giving My Kids the Summer Fun I Never Had

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two boys playing in the waves on the beach, color photo

I love that my kids hate school. Stay with me here . . . Yes, I absolutely love that year after year, my boys cannot wait to ditch school for summer break, that they endlessly bemoan the academic year and cannot wait for June.  I love it because it is normal. I love it because it means they enjoy being at home and implies that I make summers fun for them, or, rather, allow summers to be fun for them. I love it because I always dreaded summers when I was growing up. Dreaded them with knots in my stomach...

Keep Reading

Mothering One Day at a Time

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding daughter in matching shirts, color photo

As I sat with my growing belly, full of anticipation for the arrival of my firstborn, the possibilities were endless for this little girl. Maybe she would lean toward the arts and be a dancer, writer, or musician. Or maybe she would take after her great-granddad and become a scientist. And maybe one day she would be a mother too. Dreaming about the future was fun and exciting. But then she surprised us with an at-birth Down syndrome diagnosis. Special needs were never included in my dreaming sessions.    All of the sudden, my hopes and dreams for this new...

Keep Reading

Fall into the Arms of Jesus, Little One

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Child walking

I have three younger brothers, so I know how crazy and wild boys can be. Lots of falls, cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, and even a couple of head stitches. My husband has two younger brothers. He’d always tell how they used to jump from the banister down two floors onto the glass coffee table. Why anyone would do that, I have no idea. Pure madness and chaos.  Right now, I have a little baby boy who’s only seven months, but I know he will probably be just as wild as his uncles and dad. But that doesn’t mean I’m...

Keep Reading

I Know It’s Just Summer Camp but I Miss You Already

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Kids by campfire

You would’ve thought I was sending you off to college. The way I triple-checked to make sure you had everything you needed and reminded you about the little things like brushing your teeth and drinking plenty of water about a thousand times. You would’ve thought I was sending you to live on your own. The way I hugged you tight and had to fight back some tears. The way you paused before leaving just to smile at me. The way I kept thinking about that boyish grin all the way home. The way I kept thinking about how you’re looking...

Keep Reading

I Want My Boys To Become Men of Character

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boys with arms around each other by water

I’m a single mama of two young boys. As a woman raising young boys, I’ve thought a lot about how I want them to act—as kids and adults. We joke around that I’m not raising farm animals, and we don’t live in a frat house. I’m trying to plant seeds now so they grow into men with positive character traits. They burp, fart, spray toothpaste on the sink and somehow miss the toilet often, but I’m trying to teach them life lessons about what it means to be great men and gentlemen.  Interactions with other men provide opportunities for us...

Keep Reading

Until There Was a Boy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother looking at son and smiling, color photo

I never believed in love at first sight . . . until there was a boy.  A boy who made my heart whole the first time he looked at me.  A boy who held my hand and touched my soul at the same time.  A boy who challenged me and helped me grow. A boy who showed me that, even on the worst days, the world is still a beautiful place.  RELATED: I Met a Boy and He Changed Everything A boy who reminded me how to laugh until tears ran down my cheeks. A boy who tested my patience...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Heart Remembers These Sweet Moments Forever

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and baby laughing

Motherhood gives you all the feelings. It’s hard not to be utterly thankful for and grieve the little things of your last baby, trying to take in all of the firsts and lasts. Every bin of clothes and baby gear packed up produces a tiny crack in a mother’s heart, breaking just a little bit more each time she says goodbye. It’s not that she needs those baby clothes, but it’s the memories each outfit held that are difficult for her to let go of. She does not want to forget those beautiful moments. When she looks at that bin...

Keep Reading

I Want You To Miss Your Childhood One Day Too

In: Kids, Living
Kids jumping off dock into lake

What I miss the most about childhood is owning my whole heart. Before I gave pieces of it away to others who weren’t always careful with it. And some, who never gave the pieces back. I miss my knowing. My absolute faith that my mother’s arms could fix just about everything and what her arms couldn’t, her cookies could. When my biggest grievance was not getting my way. I miss feeling whole, unblemished. Before words cut me. Before people had taken up space in my mind, created permanent movies that were ugly and still play on repeat at times. Before...

Keep Reading

No One Told Me It Was the Last Time You’d Be This Little

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young son playing in ocean

No one told me it would be the last time I rocked you to sleep. A cry in the night, the haze of a dimly lit room, our rocking chair worn brown. We were the only ones in a little world. No one told me it would be the last time I carried you on my hip. The way my body shifted—you changed my center of gravity. Your little arm hooked in mine, a gentle sway I never noticed I was doing. No one told me it would be the last time I pushed you on the bucket swing. Your...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime