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Jenny Simmons: Lots of Ways to be a Momma

3/7/2014



You rolled over, snuggled deep into my arms and told me, “Mom, I can’t wait to be a mom because I’m going to puff up my cheeks and let my kids poke the air out, just like you do.”

You said the hardest part is you just don’t know whether you want a boy and a girl or two girls or two boys or what.

You have always said that when you grow up all you want to be is a mommy and a grandma.

(And a songwriter- but we’ll talk about that gut-wrenching-non-paying job later; motherhood and songwriting have much in common).

And you are going to be the best momma in the world. I can’t wait to watch you love and nurture and lead. And I want to tell you a million times over what an amazing mom you will be.

But more than that, what I really want to tell you is this-
there are lots of ways to be a momma.

You walk around with animals and pillows stuffed inside your tiny 4-year-old dresses and pretend you are growing a baby. Then you have the baby right there on your bed! You always have your babies a lot more gracefully than I had mine. You nurse your babies at your chest and ask me when you can have your own bra, because of course, your babies need to eat and you are worried you won’t be able to provide. You come to me, when I’ve had one too many cupcakes, rub my belly and ask me when you are getting a baby sister. You know that babies are formed deep within a girl’s body. It seems you’ve always known.

But what you don’t know is this-
there are lots of ways to be a momma.

When I was 4-years-old I dreamed about starting my own Snoopy Sno Cone empire on the corner of the street where the nuns passed by on their way to the convent. I was convinced that nuns couldn’t turn me down and I would have a monopoly on the market.   I dreamed of writing newspapers, creating art and making money so I could buy more Scotch tape and Lisa Frank stickers to fuel my construction-paper-bound books.
I pined for money; you pine for motherhood.

You dream of birth and babies.
And you only dream of what you know-
But momma’s get their babies ready for what they don’t know.
So I need to tell you-
there are lots of ways to be a momma.

Your babies may come from your body. But baby they may not. 

Your babies may be like your best friend. Brave, bold, beautiful, black. Not from her momma’s belly, but another momma’s belly. A mom who couldn’t care for her, a mom who left her on a doorstep to be found by another.

Your babies may sit in your Sunday school room, clinging to your legs and listening to your stories about Jesus. And you may teach them and lead them to grace and hope.

Your babies may glare at you over the crook of a book in a school library, acting as though they don’t care about you, the middle aged volunteer.  And you may practice tough love and enduring empathy.

Your babies may smell bad and look unruly as they stagger into the shelter or the rehab house looking for food or freedom. You may care for them as they come off their drugs or thaw out their frozen feet.

Your babies might be adult babies. Never able to care for themselves, never able to mature past the mind of a child. And you may dress them and feed them and love them well.

Your babies may be your neighbor’s babies. Your cousin’s babies. Your friend’s babies. And you may read to them, pray with them, inspire them, challenge them as they grow up, a constant force of light in their life.

Your babies may be the grown-ups next door. And as they check on you, their elderly neighbor, you may ask them about their jobs, listen as they figure out their careers and marriages, guide with the wisdom of your years.

One momma once said, “Surely the poorest of the poor and the lowest of the low can have the love and devotion of us few.” She reminded people that we can do no great things, only small things with great love. Some say she was the most devoted, loving mother in the world and she never had a single baby grow within her body! But talk to those she lived alongside of and they will tell you, Mother Teresa was their mother.

By definition a mother is a woman who raises or brings up a child. And many women have raised me up. They have raised up my spirit, mind, imagination, soul, courage, bravery, tenderness, compassion, faith and beauty. Many women have been mothers to me.

And I want you to be able to have your own babies with all my heart. I want to see your belly grow, your baby kick and tickle the inside of your rib cage, her hiccups keeping you up at night. I will always want your dreams to come true. And you dream of being a momma, so I pray you have all the babies you could ever want grow inside of your belly. But if not-

What I really want to tell you is this-
No matter how they arrive at your door and in your heart
You are going to be a beautiful momma
because baby
There are lots of ways to be a momma.



Used with permission -- Jenny Simmons

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