“Life is the fruit she longs to hand you, ripe on a plate. And while you live, relentlessly she understands you.”~Phyllis McGinley
I have four remarkable children. Becoming a mother to each of them has taught me more about how love changes you from the inside out than anything else in my life. In the twenty plus years of celebrating mother’s day with my children, I have often struggled with feeling unappreciated and invisible. Mother’s Day was a holiday that we couldn’t quite get right. Maybe it was the positivity quest this year that gave me a new angle on the day, but today I celebrated the holiday from the inside out and it was a success.
The truth is that being a mother has shaped me into the best version of myself. And while it is impossible not to inflict some harm on the way to raising children, the work of learning how to love each of them uniquely, yet evenly, has been the daily work of seeking balance for me.
I have gone through various phases of loving these children as they have grown, the all consuming codependent love that allows babies to survive, the over achieving driven mother trying to get everyone to every after school activity, the emotional barometer mother, checking my adolescent’s well being every day after school. I have loved them all fiercely and maybe in hindsight too much, when at the cost of my own boundaries, they suffered the backlash of a woman who needed as much back from her kids as she offered.
Recently my younger two have made some comments reflecting back the frustration and exhaustion that I have heaped onto my role of mother. I find I am not quite as competent and self assured mother to unruly teenagers as I was to unruly toddlers. They have seen me questioning my desire to be a mother. I am not thinking of them watching me at those moments and don’t realize until I hear them echo it back to me, the fear I instill in them, when in my jaded tones, I repent my motherhood role.
The truth is that all of the work in my life that means anything started with and circles back to family. I wanted them to know that all of the work I do in the name of love, I have learned in this messy laboratory of love that we call home. Being a mother is the most challenging, most rewarding, most authentic vehicle of love imaginable and what I wanted most for Mother’s day is for them to know that I wouldn’t have missed the ride for anything.
I think they got the message.