“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
I still remember the very first time I read The Velveteen Rabbit, a childhood favorite, to my first born daughter. I couldn’t get through it without crying at the powerful story line. What I didn’t know then, but do now is that it has a deep message for us moms.
Have you heard the funny one-liner: ‘I was a great mom before I had kids.’ And it’s true isn’t it? How about this one? ‘I was a creative and pulled together homeschool mom before I started homeschooling.’ Oh, the plans we have before we start. But soon after, we begin second guessing ourselves, don’t we. We begin to compare ourselves to the other homeschool moms (the ones who don’t even measure up to our ideals themselves) and see only our lack.
We think we need to do this or that to be a real mom, especially a real homeschool mom. But on those days…or weeks…or months…or seasons when we can’t seem to ever get to this or that, we call ourselves fakers. Unreal, imaginary, nonexistent, illusory, immaterial, intangible fake, false, imitation, counterfeit. Anything but real.
But what is REAL? Take a lesson from one who knows: “Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
You see moms, we don’t start out as real moms anyway. And no matter how many awesome lesson plans we create, no matter how many days in a row we stick to the curriculum guide, no matter how often we attend co-op, or library days, those things don’t make us real. Neither do perfect days of never being angry with the kids and always having a healthy meal for them, make us real.
Skin Horse tells us what it’s like to become real. “Most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.”
It happened slowly, so slowly you didn’t even realize it. It happened as your kids snuggled up with you and ran their fingers through your hair, getting it caught and ripping parts out. OUCH! It hurts sometimes. That’s ok, “when you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.” It happened as you cried your eyes out over your love for them, only wanting the very best for them and thanking God He gave them to you. It happened as you cried with them each time they experienced the struggles common to everyone but oh so hard for them to feel. It happened as your tired arms carried them and put them to bed after they fell asleep in your arms. Over and over again. Yeah, it happened as you neglected yourself a bit too often, caring for them instead of your own needs. But, when we’re real, “ these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
No, we don’t start out as real moms, but somewhere along the way we BECAME. And the best part is: “once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”