Happy Mothering Day!
As I woke up today, I thought of all the mothers out there who are waking up just like me. I thought that some of us are excited for the day and others dread it. So much expectation and comparison on a day designed to celebrate the institution of motherhood. I prayed that each mother, in her own way and time, be given at least one moment today to appreciate her own efforts, even if there is no one else to do so.
I do not know a harder job than being a mom. Seriously. I have had some hard fucking jobs and not one of them could even hold a candle to being a mom. Hands down the hardest, life long thing I have ever done.
I have been a mom for so long now, that it is hard to remember my life before kids. Before all the stuff that happened that changed me literally from the inside out.
What I want to honor today is that there is not one mother out there that hasn’t had a rough go, a hard patch that sometimes lasted way longer than any good patch. Motherhood is really signing up to have your heart broken over and over again by those tiny beings who literally feed off your attention and love as the main ingredient to their survival. Then by your adult children who so often do not see you as often as you would like or need.
When I think of motherhood, I think of the all the sacrifice so willingly given and so little received back and I can think of nothing else in life where that arrangement would ever be ok. We give, they take and that is the dynamic from the moment we find out we are pregnant.
But even with all the hardship, and there is a lot of it, I don’t really know any mother that wouldn’t say that the sleepless nights, the heart rendering loss, the tears, there are a lot of them, I do not know one mother that wouldn’t say that she would do it all over again, in a minute, for her child.
Think about that for a moment. Who else on earth can you say this about? And who else, will or could ever say it about you?
We give because we can. Sometimes our giving is hard won and long fought because we had mothers that weren’t taught very well. We all make mistakes, repeatedly. None of us ever get it right. And every mother I know, lies her head down at night and the last thing she thinks about is whether or not her children, regardless of their age, are ok, are happy, are safe. Every single fucking night.
I have been in the trenches with my children the past few years. Hard roads to walk for us. I have had to find the courage to send one child away, all in an effort to save him from himself. It was and I think might always be the hardest things I have ever done. To send him to the wilds of Alaska, not knowing if he would change, die, or run. Not knowing if the people there would help him, hurt him or leave him for dead. Why would anyone ever do such a thing? Because really I had exhausted all other options. He was either going to find himself there amongst the trees, ocean and wild. Or he was going to be lost forever. And I was desperate enough that I no longer had the luxury of caring which…it became time to live a life worth living or…
That child comes home in less than a month. Home for the last year of his childhood. I feel so ill equipped to house, and raise this man child. But he is coming regardless and I have some hope with all my fear. He is changed. No longer the selfishly consumed adolescent who cares only for himself. He has done a lot of work. As have I. We are different, and I pray that we are different enough that our home can be a happy place, one where love reigns and unhappiness and drama is curbed.
I pray this every day for both my children. Life comes with hard terms sometimes. No one is immune. My daughter wrestles with her own demons that have really only just begun. Being female in this world is often a liability. Being a teenaged girl really results in her having a target on her back. I hate this more than anything in the world. The loss of innocence of children so much more egregious in girls. So much more damaging. And this is not just my daughter, this is all daughters everywhere. The maturation process brutal every time.
But I am here. I am as ready as I can ever be. I am present and available. I have removed things from my path that would distract me from doing everything I can to make this homecoming a successful one for all of us. I love them both with such ferocity and depth that sometimes it feels like I don’t exist at all. And even as I write that, I know that I am on the cusp of a new life. One of the empty nester. One where my children will spread their wings and fly off to a life completely their own. It is a lifelong process with many stops and starts, but it has begun. My children again need things from me that I am not sure that I possess: freedom, autonomy, grace, independence, support from a distance. I know how to mother daily. I am not sure that I know anything at all about mothering weekly, or monthly, or heaven forbid, yearly.
But I know, because I have walked this far down the motherhood path, that I can and will find the strength, the stamina, the grace under fire, the willingness because I have found it at every hard turn, every hard mothering fork in the road. It has never failed me. Not one time. The intuition of motherhood. The long standing wisdom of other mothers, the lineage of mothers from which I sprung. I am blessed. And I will always find what it is I need in the other mothers walking the path. There is someone who has trudged my course recently or will trudge and need my support. This is how we walk, never alone, always within reaching distance of other mothers who walk this shared, yet solitary path of living and giving and heart breaking loving these no longer so tiny beings that our bodies brought forth into a world of their own. A world that we share first very intimately, then with each passing year our involvement, our pass to the intimate lives of our children passes. And we are given more time to think and find our way back to the women we were before we became mothers. A great rebalancing of our lives. Never stopping the mothering but allowing it to consume us differently.
To mothers everywhere, may you feel the love of your children today and if they are so consumed with addiction or self involvement, may you take a moment to love yourself. To give to yourself because the only way we can ever have anything to give to our children, is if we remember always that we must take care of ourselves first. We are the example, we are the person they look to for love, all love. They watch us and then follow in our footsteps even when those footsteps are full of missteps and riddled with abuse and neglect. So today, to the best of our abilities, let us walk a path with self love. To be the best example we can of all that a mother can be…even as we fuck it up and mire it with need, and loss and codependency. Remembering always, that we never walk the mother path alone.