An Unremarkable Mum
Unremarkable. If you asked me to sum up the kind of mum I am that’s probably the word I would use. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a bad mum. My boys are growing into people I am fiercely proud of and nine out of ten days I feel like I do a pretty decent job at this mothering lark. (Except maybe for that one time I totally forgot to pick them up from school. It was an hour after pick-up when I finally remembered. Eli was oblivious. Kaeden thought I was dead. I definitely made substantial guilt-purchases in Asda for them that evening. Don’t judge me guys. It happens.)
I’m not a bad mum, I’m maybe even a good mum. But I feel like an unremarkable mum. I haven’t done anything that required super-human endurance, I don’t have a backstory of incredible adversity overcome, I haven’t even had to sacrifice much above the normal daily contributions every mum makes for her kids. In a sea of incredible, courageous, outstanding mums who I deeply admire I am … unremarkable.
Maybe you feel that way too, hands deep in dishes, knee-deep in laundry, serially exhausted. You just show up, answering the mother-call each day and do the best you can, crushing it some days and just about making it through others. Unremarkable.
Except maybe those unremarkable, hidden days of motherhood are some of the most remarkable days of your life. Just maybe in a world where visibility now equals value, we have accidentally misdefined the word ‘remarkable’.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about an exceptionally remarkable man. He was a stand out in his generation, carried wisdom beyond his years, rose to the top of his career and in the process elevated a whole community. He helped bring the poor out of poverty and provided justice to minorities. He gave a voice to the voiceless and ensured that everyone got a fair go. His name was Solomon and he was King of Israel, arguably the most successful king ancient Israel ever had. He was remarkable.
It wasn’t long into his reign as king that his remarkableness (not a word but it should be) shone through. God, yes God, the one who is above all, the creator of time, space and eternity, shows up at Solomon’s house in the middle of the night and what follows suit is a conversation that can only be described as remarkable.
That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
2 Chronicles 1:7-9 NIV
Sorry, WHAT?! God turns up with a blank cheque for Solomon, “Fill it in how you please, it’s already signed and I have the funds to make good on whatever figure you put in the box.” And Solomon chooses wisdom?! I might have chosen health or happiness, maybe financial security or a lifetime supply of Dairy Milk Mint Crisp (I’m addicted). But wisdom?
Solomon outstandingly, extraordinarily, remarkably asks for the one thing that he requires to do a good job with what God has placed into his hands. “If I can’t have anything else God, I want wisdom.”
(Insert standing ovation here.)
If that was my kid, I’d be over the edge with mama-pride, the kind that makes banners with ”THAT’S MY BOY” painted on them and throws parties in his honour, the kind that stops strangers on a bus to show them wallet-sized baby-pictures while waxing lyrical about his accomplishments.
I mean in the sheer bigness of a moment like that one, a moment when it would have been so easy to give in to self-centred ambition, he acts with such incredible integrity, such unadulterated humility! Remarkable.
I found myself asking how a boy becomes a man like that.
Then I stumbled on the answer. Later in his reign King Solomon writes a series of Proverbs, wise sayings to help share this supernatural allotment of wisdom inside him with the community around him. Tucked away in Proverbs 4 I found these words.
For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother. Then he taught me, and he said to me,“Take hold of my words with all your heart, keep my commands, and you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”
On the biggest day of his life, when faced with the most important decision he would ever make, a decision that would affect literally thousands of people, Solomon’s mind races back to a childhood conversation with his daddy. I picture him still chubby with childhood fat, the kind that makes you want to squeeze cheeks. He waddles into the room. His mum’s eyes light up at his arrival and his dad pulls him up close on his knee. David looks into his son’s big, curious eyes and just shares what he has; his knowledge, his experience, his heart. Unremarkable. No confetti canons or cheer squad. Just a parent and a kid having a chat. Who knew that a hidden conversation like that would shape the world?
As your little one clasps your hand and snuggles in close at the end of a busy day, while you stroke her hair and whisper love over her, as he chitters endlessly in the back seat of the car posing all kinds of questions from, “What happens to dogs when they die?” to “Why do you smell funny today?”, as you do the every day work of mothering, sharing who you are and what you know and discovering who they are and what they know, please, please, please don’t call it unremarkable.
There is vast beauty tucked up inside of your child, and in ordinary, everyday moments like that, you artfully unfold it and help them carry it into their world. You’re so skilled you don’t even blink while you do it. You’re so gifted that you can’t even see it’s a gift.Yes, it’s a gift to mother the way you do. It’s a remarkable gift. You are remarkable. And what you are doing is remarkable.
I’m going back to the laundry now. It won’t do itself. And later I’ll pick up my kids from school (if I remember - chuckle) and the world will slow down for ten brief minutes as we walk home in the crisp, autumn air talking about nothing… and everything. And it will be remarkable.