Ode To the Middle-Aged Mama

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We meet her first when she sends a scathing letter to her son—what JK Rowling terms a “howler.” Ron Weasley’s embarrassment makes us roll our eyes at the overbearing mother who scolds her son for all the world to hear.

Whoa, mama. take a step back.

She sends her youngest son and his best friend Christmas sweaters—enormous seeming wastes of yarn that swathe her children in embarrassment, again. (Let’s not even talk about the Yule robes.) We silently (or not so silently) laugh at the middle-aged woman who would create such things and believe they’re beautiful.

Then, we discover–we don’t know Molly Weasley at all.

Favorite Books and Favorite Heroes

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Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

While discussing books that have meant something to me, I thought a post on one of my favorite heroines might be fun. Mrs. Weasley. The quintessential mother hen. The character we instantly stereotype—a caring but essentially nonessential woman. What many teenage boys think of their mothers, we suppose. But we agree with that teenage boy, Ron. She’s a good heart, wrapped in mom jeans and irrelevant conversation.

Shows what we know.

Many years after reading Harry Potter, and after a dozen or more movie viewings, I’ve learned why Harry and Hermione don’t, after all, end up together. I’ve come to understand what it is about the Weasleys that draws them both into the family orbit.

It all centers on Molly. It always did.

Molly’s sweaters and letters show us something, if we’re really looking. We see in them, and their creator, a fierce loyalty and love for family that doesn’t care about embarrassment or anything else on its quest for insuring her offspring are safe and good people. Her love and loyalty drive everything—and they know nothing on earth that will intimidate them.

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Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash

Harry is drawn to something he’s never known. Hermione Is drawn to what she intentionally gave up (in my vote for saddest scene in all eight movies). There’s something about fierce love and loyalty that cannot help but pull in whatever circles it. It’s a black hole of sorts, but in a positive way.

Love and Loyalty for the Win

“Mrs Weasley threw off her cloak as she ran, freeing her arms. Bellatrix spun on the spot, roaring with laughter at the sight of her new challenger.”

Bellatrix never imagined this middle-aged mama could bring her down. To be fair to Bellatrix, neither did anyone else. We deeply underestimated the lady. We simply never saw what drove her to knit. To bake. To open her home to anyone in need. To risk everything when those “bonus kids” she loved were in deep danger. To bolster her husband’s work in defying evil.

We didn’t see that it was a great work of its own in the fight against evil, those clacking knitting needles and that open guest policy. We didn’t realize that what she really knit together was a web so strong it held and protected so many of the “good guys” we lost count.

I’m pretty sure I whooped too loudly in the theater when she made her heroic stand to protect her daughter. I saw, in that moment, what I should have seen before it. Molly Weasley had been saying, “Not my loved one, bitch” to evil for a very, very long time. And her loved ones were many.

We simply hadn’t noticed.

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Our Story, Too

Isn’t this the story of many middle-aged mamas? Isn’t this why we love her? We feel sometimes so mundane, so overlooked and pointless. Then we see someone who feels as we do about it all—and she doesn’t hold back.

She won’t be irrelevant, and maybe, in that moment, we recognize that we refuse to be as well. We realize we never were.

Women, we are knitting those webs, aren’t we? We’re holding the forces of evil at bay, too, but often in an unnoticed way, and the glory goes to the Harrys and not to the Mollys. It always does.

Yet we keep on knitting

Maybe not literally. I can’t knit to save my life. Yarn skills evade me. But without us, women, where would the fight be?

  • What children would not have been raised who are now the good people we imagined and fought for?
  • What injustices would still be occurring if we hadn’t written that letter or volunteered those hours?
  • Who would still be in despair if we hadn’t opened our ears, our hearts, our homes?
  • What life wouldn’t have been redirected if we hadn’t spoken those words, even in a howler, if the need decreed it?
  • What need wouldn’t have been met without our constant watch at the city gates—bringing casseroles, knitting scarves, cleaning toilets, and yes, protesting on the street corners, telling the truth about sexual abuse, and loving the other?

We underestimated women have known this since Shifra and Puah, since Abigail and Ruth. Too often, we don’t believe in our own power, but God affirms it.

God credits them with the saving of lives, these middle-ages mamas of the Hebrew world. He writes boldly what others overlook. Fierce loyalty and love know no force they fear. They are the specialty of the middle-aged mama.

We’ve been saying, “not my loved one, bitch” to evil for a long time. And the older I get, the more loved ones I accumulate. They come in all colors and languages and creeds, nowadays. Maybe I can’t knit a stitch, but I can expand my reach to hold these new loved ones, too, in a fierce, protecting love. It’s our superpower, women.

God continues to affirm when we women use that superpower, that gift of grace, of love and loyalty to continue the quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) fight.

It all centers on the Molly Weasleys. It always has.

 

Who is one of your favorite heroes? I’d love to hear!

How to Help Your Kids Overcome Jealousy and Insecurity

P1050504(Sibling rivalry does not have to come to this.)

“Mommy, is she going to be better at everything than me?”

I hugged my dripping wet tiny seven-year-old. At the end of our girls’ first swimming lessons, what I had dreaded the whole six week session happened.

The younger got promoted to the next level and her big sister didn’t.

Bigger and more athletic than her older sister, she simply had better motor skills, a higher attention span, and more courage at that young age. Big Sister struggled with a mix of hurt and jealousy.

“Am I always going to be not as good?”

I struggled, too.

I mean, given their genetics, none of our children were ever going to be athletically coordinated, let alone gifted. As the larger and stronger child, though, her little sister did have an edge. What to say to this little wet waif, certain that she would always be at the end of every performance test?

I’m checking in at A Fine Parent today with this article on children, jealousy, and how to find abundant praise for everyone, no child left behind!

Read the whole post here.

please, rain on my parade

 

This week, a replay from a post a few years ago.
Mother’s Day. Love it. Hate it. I’ve done both. But one thing remains–we are all in it together.
070c8-img_3386My radio station is at it again. Every time I’m in the car, I hear one more story lately of a “supermom.” It’s their lead-up to Mother’s Day. People (and by people I mean usually offspring of the supermom) nominate a woman as a supermom, and the radio host reads her story. It’s all very touching and mostly true, I’m sure. I do get the idea. We want to honor our moms, and that’s great.

And the Winner Is . . .

Last year, the station outdid the simple story and hosted a parade honoring the one woman chosen as the superest of supermoms. Yes, a PARADE down her street and in her town. Listening to that, I wondered, is there anything I would be more uncomfortable with than a parade honoring me? Well, I haven’t yet had my first colonoscopy. Maybe that. But that, at least, comes with some measure of privacy a parade does not.
I cannot thank my kids enough for not putting my name in for that one. I know the extraverted among us might find that fun, but I would prefer a nice weekend in a cabin by the water as my prize, thank you. Not that there is much danger of my ever winning the title. I am imagining how this would go down:
Parade Host: Is there anyone here present who knows any lawful reason why Jill Richardson should not be considered for the title of Supermom? If so, speak now, or forever hold your peace.
Child #1—There was that forcing us to eat mushy spaghetti incident.
Chid #2—And forgetting to pick me up from school for two hours.
Child #3—Missing my first grade Mother’s Day program comes to mind.
The first runner up would be riding in that convertible in no time, waving at her people.
612a6-img_5361Point being, instead of feeling honored when we hear these contests, a lot of us just feel more unworthy. More pressure to measure up. More belief that everyone else is doing it better. Less assurance that we will ever succeed at this mom thing.
“Supermom” sends the message that parenting is a competition. It’s not enough to be a mom; you’ve got to put forth the the effort to get to that gold medal stand.
Can I please interject with a question—Why? Why the race to be better than other women? Why the need to prove we’ve got this under control? Why the certainty that if our kids don’t sport organic cotton playclothes with matching fedoras we’ll be motherhood epic fails? Why do we define our worth by whether or not anyone ever nominates us for supermom?
This just in: A supermom is not a woman who has perfect children. Her worth is not determined by how many awards her kid wins, what college her son gets into, how many activities her daughter participates in, the cleanliness or size of her house, or whether she volunteers for the homeless shelter, charity fashion show, and blood drive.

You are a Supermom

A supermom is a woman who shows up, every day, whether she feels like it or not, and loves and teaches her kids for another day. A supermom shows her children that greatness lies in being there for the long haul and loving hardest when the will is the weakest. Supermoms make mistakes, big ones, and ask for forgiveness. Sometimes, it gets downright messy, but you keep crawling through the mud anyway, because that’s what you do.
Supermoms show up. Every day.
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  • Supermoms aren’t sure if they can love any more for one minute at the end of the day, but then they love anyway.
  • Supermoms don’t know if they’re doing anything right, but they keep doing what needs to be done.
  • Supermoms wipe up the vomit and wipe away the tears and wipe off the insecurity, whether they’re wearing yoga pants or a power suit, whether it’s convenient or not.
  • Supermoms find one more spot on the shelf for a handmade creation, count the days until those creations stop showing up, then feel guilty for rushing childhood.
  • Supermoms know that tears and smiles, laughter and sobs, are interlocked in ways we can’t understand but instinctively know are two sides of the same thing.
  • Supermoms feel like throwing it in and hitting the beach in Antigua, but then they hit the homework help and the stovetop and the after-work-school witching hour. One more time.

Let’s Voyage

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There is no medal stand for mamas.

Supermoms don’t need or get parades, because they understand that this is not a competition. More like a long voyage into uncharted territory where we know it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep afloat until we get there together. Women who start taking shots at other women will soon find they’ve put cannon holes through the sides of their own ship. Women who join hands and have one another’s backs in this, their toughest adventure yet, get through the only way we can–together.

You don’t need to be a supermom. You just need to show up. One more day, one more load of laundry, one more argument mediated. One more moment to hold a hand that’s growing too fast and teach it kindness, and multiplication. That’s what you do. And you can do it. Happy Mother’s Day.