Mother’s Day: A Reconciliation

For many years, I hated Mother’s Day.  This wasn’t prior to having a child where I didn’t fully comprehend the love and appreciation Mothers need (all year, actually).  Indeed, I loved celebrating my mother, my grandmother, and strong, wonderful moms around me.  My loathing of the holiday began after having my son and becoming a mother myself.

SAMSUNG CSC

I clearly remember that first Mother’s Day, my infant baby boy in my arms, where my mind just exploded: HOLY [aallllll the colorful metaphors] I. Am. A. Mother.  This kid is going to look up to me and expect me to guide him through life and I don’t even have my life figured out!  Suddenly the holiday seemed audacious – celebrating me for something I had no clue how to do.  Since then, every May when the carnations began popping up in pastel colors, and cartoony cards of teddy bears hugging, and coupons for chocolate, charm bracelets, and cleaning supplies began to fill up my mailbox reminding us to “not forget mom,” I’d begin to lose myself in a next-level spiral of self-loathing and guilt.  I even went as far as to convince my husband that we shouldn’t celebrate it (and then I was bummed because being appreciated is always nice. Shame spirals make you do crazy things like that.)

Even the simplest expressions of gratitude or the kind phrase “You are a good mom,” was met with fierce internal hostility. Why am I being appreciated? Sure, I might be, in this present moment that you are witnessing, a “good mom” but what about all the times I haven’t been so great?  Sometimes I explode, I yell, I roll my eyes. Sometimes I have double standards and change my mind on the fly and no one knows what the hey is going on.  Sometimes I cry myself to sleep because I’m frustrated there are no clear-cut answers and the things that are clear-cut I just don’t want to do. Sometimes I feel guilty: guilty I’m not doing more, guilty that I’m not doing less, guilty that there are days where all I want is to be alone long enough to finish a cup of coffee in peace, guilty that I’m not able to make it to every single, tiny school event and “be there” for him.

And then sometimes, it just takes a few years of hating Mother’s Day to realize that what I really hated was the image of the mother I thought I was supposed to be. And that idealization, and idolization, was something I needed to let go of.  It wasn’t a “toss my hands in the air and let all the loose strings fly” letting go. No. It’s been more of an inch by inch process over the past few years.  An inch of societal or familial expectation released. An inch or two of expecting that always doing x will always equal receiving y.  Quite a few inches of putting others before my own health and wellbeing paired with always having to be so damn polite what I’m feeling. Then there is that thread that is constantly loosed, burning my fingers with its quickening pace of release: my personal attachment to perfection.

IMG_1633

It isn’t possible to be perfect. It isn’t possible to be in control of everything all the time.  What is possible is for me to be me. And to be the most excellent me at that. That includes all the bumps and bruises and moments of my flawed humanity.  It has to, really. Despite his shock at this revelation, my (our) son isn’t perfect.  He looks to his mom, dad, and people in his life to see how we compose and create ourselves.  He needs to see that we live in a flawed world and that is not only okay but that is what makes our world truly wonderful and unique.

A few weeks ago HS asked me if I’d like to do anything for Mother’s Day this year. I smiled.  I’m not going to say my Mother’s Day curse is broken because breaking curses takes daily work.  This year, though, I feel different.  I feel proud of the work we have been investing into parenting.  This Mother’s Day, I don’t feel like I’m a fraud or failure of a mother.  I feel like I’m a human one – and every day she is learning and growing and she incredibly beautiful part of me.  She is worth celebrating.

So, to all my mammas and mamma-figures out there. You are going to royally screw things up from time to time.  You are going to have weeks where you’ve looped in the same little mistakes over and over again. That is okay. Breathe and remember your humanity. Remember that your little humans need to see you be a human.  They need to see your grace and resiliency. They need to see your determination and commitment to becoming the best version of yourself and that doing so takes a lot of work. They need to see you. 

IMG_6311

Stickers Everywhere

PCM2019

 

The other evening, I was in the shower humming “I want to be where the people are” from the Little Mermaid because that is the only song I know every single word of, chorus and stanzas.  I finished rinsing off, stepped out on to our purple bath mat creating two darker purple foot imprints.  “Do I want lotion today?”  It’s a battle.  Sometimes I’m cold and I just don’t want to put it on.  I know I need it but there is that insanely unpleasant and awkward moment when you are standing in the bathroom, lotioned-up and goose-bumpy just waiting until it’s absorbed.

“Okay, Be an adult.” I slid our huge, family-sized bottle of Alba Botanicals lotion (the blue one) to the edge of the counter and started at my feet.   As I went, rotating the bottle a bit I laughed as I saw a red and blue Spiderman sticker plastered to the side.

I love the stickers.  And the stickers are everywhere.  Unlike finding rocks, broken crayons, or the potentially-hazardous lego, I love finding the stickers.  I get to work and half-way through the day find I have Paw Patrol’s Marshall on my blouse. I wear that sticker with pride.  Mickey Mouse on my purse, butterfly my coffee mug, once found a book that was freshly unpacked from its Amazon packaging completely covered in Snoopy stickers- at first frustrating, then funny.

He is making things beautiful.  He is bestowing an honorary badge on all the things he knows I love.  Hubs and I are sometimes awarded “Good dinner.  Here is a sticker.”  Once W. snuck a whole pack of stickers his grandparents gave him for Christmas to school. Apparently, he was giving them to his teachers, telling them they did a great job.  (God, this kid kills me.)

Yes, I love the stickers.  The little surprises of beauty and creativity waiting to be found, like Spiderman on the lotion bottle.  I smiled and slathered.

And then it hurt.

I won’t find stickers forever.  This is boyhood and I’m his mamma. I stood, lotioned-up and goose-bumpy, trying not to blink.  Because that is what everyone says – blink, and they’re grown.  And I really love the stickers.

 

* * * * * *

 

The photo was taken at Portsmouth Children’s Museum. While I realize it has nothing to do with stickers, it does indeed capture my feeling of the fleeting moments of childhood and motherhood.  May we cherish moments like these and carry them in the pockets of our hearts for eternity.

Dust To Dust

 

They say we are made of stardust.  Carbon shells ferrying souls, thoughts, and beating hearts.  We are constructed of molecules billions of years old.  Over time we have replicated and evolved but our organic origins are of the heavens.

Here we sit, conversing, under a twilight sky.  The warm summer breeze pricks up the hair on our arms and necks as distant rock-n-roll classics drown into the brick walls, their echoes filling our silences.   We talk under the gaze of the stars, conveying with finite words thoughts and feelings as infinite as time itself.  Our minds expand towards enlightened richness and beauty.  We are seeking grace.  We are seeking truth.  We are seeking.

Sometimes I wonder, as we muse under the great big sky, little dots on planet earth, if the stars are looking at us.  What do they think of us? Do they smile and laugh?  Do they shake their heads and sigh? What do they say as they watch us find ourselves, in discovering lost truths and ancient ruminations? They know better than to interfere.  They see how we struggle and know we will be stronger for it.

“They must remember from our dust they are made,” the ancient ones say.  “There is no beginning.  There is no end. From dust to dust: there just is.”

Perhaps we heard them that night.  A blessing granted light years away, illuminating our search in this dark world. As we seek for truth perhaps we are simply searching to remember. We must remember:  We are made of the stars. We must remember that there just is now and all we have to do is believe our in own light.

All we have to do is shine.

Dust To Dust

Winter: Practicing Joy

The year started in a whirlwind, as it always does, catching me in that weird state of being: thinking I’m prepared for it but, in actuality, not.  Getting back into a routine is grueling.  It isn’t the minutiae, the getting up early, the packing the lunches, the drop off, the pick up, nor is it the dinner-reading-snuggles-laundry-hey how are ya love you- and bed, and all in between.  That is all lovely and good.  It is the routine itself I am resistant to: I like whim, have learned how to trust my intuition, and now understand the importance of following my natural routines; eating when I’m hungry, sleeping when I’m tired.   The world we live in doesn’t really honor that.

 

(I take that back. The world does honor that. We – humankind, the peoples – we don’t honor that.  We have created this time-ordered, tick-tock schedule and try to squeeze the world into our neatly constructed boxes.  And sometimes people like me feel like they are oozing over the edge, spilling onto the cosmic counter top.  We’re perfectly happy to be there, all messy and deconstructed.)

 

The upside is: my guys thrive on schedule so at least we are two out of three.  I try to make up for it and unwind on the weekends, bundling up and putting on rain boots for beach walks.  Or playing board games and drinking coffee all day long.  Or channeling my inner cat and lying in savasana on the sunlight streaked floor.  These rhythms restore me.  By Wednesday evening when I begin to feel wonky, wound tightly, and foggy, knowing I have free-ranged hours ahead keeps me sane.  I need the wonder and the unexpected.

 

Sometimes, however, the unexpected is sooooo less than pleasant.

 

I think a litmus test for one’s happiness is how joy can be found even in these less than wonderful surprises. I’m not happy all the time.  That is okay.  I work at it.  Constantly. And I find that in the moments waking up early to the sounds of a stomach virus taking hold of our house is a perfect time for me reflect on my joy practice.  I find joy in the inconvenient condemnation to bedrest.  I find it in the giving back scratches to W. while he is curled up in a little ball and I read the “Which Star Wars Lego Character Are You Quiz” five hundred million times in a row.  Or more recently, a particular favorite day, I found joy when Hubs and I were home, recovering from aforementioned stomach virus.  W. was healthy enough for school, leaving the two of us alone together for a whole day. Unheard of!  We laughed (but not too hard) because with a six hours to ourselves at home and we laid on the couch, drank ginger tea, and vowed to take a real day off in the future where we could enjoy ourselves properly.

 

Life is messy, doesn’t belong in a little box, and will always presenting the unexpected.  What matters the most isn’t the scenario as much as what we do in that scenario.   Whether I’m finding ways to align the world’s clockwork with my internal one or spending a day holding Hubs’ hand and sharing a sleeve of saltines, I’m kinda okay with that and in these small moments I smile.

Winter Trees 1

Let Us Be Grateful

Let us be grateful for the great things.  The great loves, the sun rises, the sun sets, gravity,  new life, old memories, our universe.
Let us be grateful for the little things.  The worn pages, the rain drops, unexpected bursts of color, a smile hiding in the corner of a mouth, perfect foam on a cappuccino, warm breezes.
Let us be grateful for the hard things.  The failures, the mistakes, the bumps and bruises and deep cuts, the mud and dirt in our nails, those lost, the darkness.
Let us be grateful for the wonderful things.  The rise, the grace, gritted teeth and determination, fortitude, the light, the now.
Let us be grateful, eternally.
20111012-115800-756e36d1-f63b-49c0-b4f8-d84c78c37572

Lost

 

GreatDismalSwamp2

 

Sometimes I feel a little lost.   And right before the fear settles into my chest and spawns little terrors into my soul, I remember.  I remember that being a little lost means that I am simply aware.  Aware that I know nothing.  Aware that I must continue searching, seeking, filling my curiosity with more and more questions.  Aware that I must first be lost before I can be found.

 

GreatDismalSwamp1

Breathing

I can’t recall the day I stopped writing.  It is oxygen for my soul so the decision not to inhale for a little while wasn’t a conscious one.  Like many passions, it was pushed aside slowly, ever so slowly, into non-existence.  Little gasps of air injected a surge of vitality into my being as I occasionally scribbled something on post it note or on one of many scraps of paper.  These odds and ends have collected themselves into a large, ziploc bag – it’s quite embarrassing actually. These poor half-dead creations in a bag, just waiting to be picked up and nurtured

 

If I close my eyes, still my mind, and attempt to summon the reason why I lost my voice, I hear an echo vibrating into the present moment.   The truth is, I had to find out who I was first.  Every bit I wrote down felt farcical.  I loathe hypocrisy and the idea of becoming a hypocrite myself, well, I’d rather not write, not breathe, than become a walking untruth. I wrote about slowing down, finding joy in little things, beauty in the world, being free and an all-loving person.  While I did attempt all those things, I didn’t live those things.  In fact, I was drowning.  In real life, I had been caught up by many things, images and notions that were not me.  I felt it acutely.  Like walking around in trendy shoes that pinched and an itchy sweater only worn because it was gift,  I was burdened by the image of who I thought I was supposed to be, who I thought others thought I was supposed to be.  I was afraid to be real, to state my opinion, to differ from these expectations.  This fear directly conflicted with my innate curiosity that always pushed me to express myself, to be creative, to discover the world uniquely and on my own terms. So, what did I do?

I continued to blindly stumble along, of course. Sometimes humans can be really, really obtuse.  I mean, how many hints does a person need?  (No, really, universe.  Just one more lightening bolt and then I’ll change my life.)  Well, those lightening bolts often manifest themselves as health complications.  So my process of healing began. (Which I will elaborate upon in the future.)  The short and sweet of it is, I began a process of healing.

And in healing my body discovered that I also have to heal my mind. 

And in healing my mind am discovering that I also had to heal my spirit. 

So, I’ve been learning and practicing this healing by reading a lot, thinking a lot, and talking a lot with my trusted few.  I’ve had to slay a few demons and am still discovering inhibiting expectations to toss into the wind.  Most of all, I am learning to give myself freedom, love, and encouragement just to be me.

And who is that person?  Who am I to say? I hope to never have a concrete answer, to always be seeking, wandering, and writing.

 

It feels good to breath again.