It's no coincidence that me pondering motherhood so deeply comes at the end of a two-year period of graduation ceremonies for my 2 older daughters.
I used to think a person couldn't understand motherhood and/or appreciate her own mother until she became a mother herself. Now, I'm pretty sure that a woman can't really appreciate motherhood until she has to start letting go of those same beings she carried inside of her for 9 months, heard their first cries, brought them home all swaddled and wondered what the heck she was going to do with them now :)
Immersing ourselves so completely into babyhood, toddlerhood, elementary, jr. high, high school, and all that comes in between ain't nothin' compared to realizing they really do walk away.
They really do.
Even after those tiresome, never ending, adolescent years...just trying to get them through every day, figuring out that perfect dance of being their mother, their friend, their confidant, and when appropriate, all the way back to Mommy again, the realization that they are not really ours is one that slaps you in the face.
What?? After all that work I did??? ;)
I also realize now that there is no perfect mother...sorry folks, even those who seem to have it all together, seem to have the most well-adjusted kids, and especially those who post to Facebook daily about how special and accomplished their children are (sorry, just had to throw that in), have had and will have even more times where they are at a loss as to what to do next with these creatures we've been blessed with.
Nothing worth having is easy...Nothing.
I'm thankful for the challenges my daughters have weathered...and I'm thankful for the challenges I've weathered...and I'm even more thankful for the mother I have who taught me through her own challenges how to do just that.
She is stunned every time I tell her this.
Times were really tough for her at one point in our lives, and like most mothers she feels as if she somehow needs to make-up for that. What she doesn't realize is that those times in particular provided the very best lesson of all...hang on and just keep going. Keep your head up, accept your mistakes and move forward. Move forward with as much grace as possible, with your shoulders back and your sassy shoes on when things are really really tough :)
My mama taught me to be myself. I am who I am.
As we critiqued prom dresses posted on FB last night, my firstborn said to me, "Mama, you know sometimes you are really blunt...and even rude." I said, "If I'm blunt and rude sometimes, and you're bluntly and rudely telling me I'm blunt and rude, what does that make you??"
She replied just as quickly, "just like you."
While I do agree that I have to watch my mouth at times (I generally call a spade a spade when I see one...you know, if it looks like a duck, it probably is a duck, and all those other euphemisms), I don't think we do our children any favors if we teach them to look at the world through rose-colored glasses. Last time I checked, reality is anything but rose-colored. When our children begin to step into the real world, and we're not there to protect them or fix every little misstep, chances of them falling much harder are very high. If our children expect challenges, expect life to be tough, etc, they will appreciate so much more when things are smooth...and they will love deeper, be more committed and persevere in the things that matter most.
My mama taught me that.
My middle daughter asked me sincerely the other day, "Mama, is this really the best time of my life?" I held back a full belly laugh and told her, "Absolutely not." These kinds of misconceptions to me are sortof like the Cinderella myth our daughters grow up with. While high school years and the early college years are a lot of fun, they are not...let me say that again...NOT the best time of your life. The day that you begin to realize who you really are and your possible place in this world, the day you become comfortable with yourself and refuse to be around others who don't accept you for who you are, the day you look in the mirror and say, "Ya know...I may not fit society's definition of perfect...but I think I'm all right," then the best time of your life begins.
My mama taught me that too.
Some of the best lessons life has to offer are learned the hard way...through experience. Just bc my mama taught me these things does not mean I always do the right thing...none of us do. Life is about constantly balancing the demands around us, and especially for women, those demands can swallow us up in a hurry. Part of a balanced life is knowing when to say, "Hey, I need some alone time," and then to take that time.
Guess who taught me that?
I still have my mama. I actually cannot even have a discussion about not having her. Will I be ok? Somehow, I will...the grit I'm made of came straight from her. It will push me forward even when I don't think I can go on anymore.
If I can do that for my daughters, then I'll be half the woman/mother that mine has been to me.
I love you, Mama.
Happy Mother's Day 2012