Last week, my column was about a license plate that I saw that read “LORDYHLP.” I wrote that I would never have that plate, because I prefer to hide my failure and vulnerability as a mom, and try to appear that I know what I’m doing.
It turns out the driver of the car is Linda Cherry of Charlotte. She’s been married nearly 40 years to husband Jimmy and is mother to four boys and one girl – Tripp, Trent, Trigg, Trevor and Traci, ages 30-37. Her son Trigg recognized his mother’s plate and emailed me.
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“She’s as put together of a woman as you’ll ever find,” he wrote. “She always had her stuff together. Her “Lordy helps” were reserved for when, on rare moments, she was at the very edge of flipping out on one of us (and I’m sure when that time came, we COMPLETELY deserved it.) It didn’t happen often and the other 99% of the time she was the lady most women are faking to be like. She always kept a clean house, a fridge full of groceries, clothes washed, and made every one of us feel loved, important, smart and needed.”
It was such a beautiful letter. And suddenly I wanted to know how to raise children who don’t grow up to think Mom’s a crazy person. Her son set us up for coffee – and walking into IHOP it was easy to spot this attractive, petite woman, with beautiful white hair, impeccably dressed for her bridge game.
I gave her every opportunity to cop to the struggle, fear, insecurity and anxiety we have as mothers. And while she acknowledged there seems to be more pressure for my generation of moms, it was always just very simple for her.
She loved babies and she loved having children. She sent her kids outside to play. She told them to run with good kids and talked about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. She had a strong faith and made sure they spent a lot of time together as a family. In fact, she said the most important thing you can give a child is time.
And she wasn’t talking about time planning birthday parties, registering for camp, driving to multiple sports practices and emailing about play dates. And certainly not time worrying if I’m doing it right. Or time trying to make it look like I am.
Because maybe I’m not doing it as well as somebody else, or as easy as the next mom. But the good news is there’s absolutely no pressure in making a child feel “loved, important, smart and needed.” In fact, if that’s all I do, I will actually feel like I’m doing a good job.
So thank you, Linda – for sharing your wisdom, your spirit and your license plate. One more question – how do you get your children to write letters?