What sound do you love most? Mine is hearing my children call my name, “Mom.”
Now don’t get me wrong, it is often mixed with a teenaged eye roll, sigh or even in some case someone storming off. But even then, often instead of getting angry, I go back to whatever I was doing and smile. It’s the knowing smile, the realization that we are getting the job done.
I haven’t always had that confidence.
I do today, tomorrow it could be iffy, but I will bask in my confidence on Mother’s Day 2019--I’ve got this... I didn’t get one card or a gift, my day was filled with early mass, breakfast at my favorite restaurant where we passed our plates and had fork fights over the last bite. We then went to Target where I picked out of all things a water bottle—just because. I lived the dream, my children made me laugh till I cried. They both hugged me and loved me. They both wished me a Happy Mother’s Day, but at its core, it was an ordinary day. Today was the best day ever, it was perfection. It was just what I wanted.
Normal. Ordinary. Simple.
Raising teenagers is not for the faint of heart and I’m sure the Irish saying, “The days are long, but the years are short,” came from a tired Irish mom. The first time I heard the phrase it was from a very wise Irish mother of four adult children and too many grandchildren to count. She had seen it all and done it all. She held the wisdom of a battle tested mother.
Before you have children, you think you know what your life has in store for you. Let’s be honest, you have absolutely no idea. That wave of love that comes when you hold your child for the first time—it changes the orientation of your soul. We are taught that we are created in the image and likeness of the Divine. What we ultimately learn is that image of the Divine that we are searching to identify, that image is love.
Motherhood is an endless, unrelenting, enduring love.
A love that is so profound, so all-encompassing it can make you do things you can’t even imagine. Motherhood teaches you, that you have even more power, grit and determination than you thought possible. That you will face fears that you never imagined, and it is in that profound love you become your most vulnerable. There is shock and even in some cases grief that will occur when difficulties arrive at your doorstep. Two years ago today, Ian was eating dinner with my mother in Santa Barbara, while in a hospital in San Diego, I was watching Norah refuse to eat. She nearly died of anorexia; my eleven-year-old daughter nearly died. It was the most difficult Mother’s Day of my life. In the last two years, there were nights and some days, I cried on the floor of my shower. The fear and despair of watching your child in a place so terrifying is unimaginable. And in the same space you hold the heart of your other child and must face the guilt that you know you are failing him too; you aren’t there to share his struggles of being 13, let alone the struggles of Asperger’s. Then there were the two times, I sat with Ian on his bed and with tears cascading out of his enormous blue eyes he told me, “Mom I’m scared my best friend is going to die. Norah can’t die. Please, fix this.” It is in those moments you feel your most powerless. It is hard stuff. These are moments, that I will never be able to forget. But you tolerate them, you face them and in our case, I knew in my core, what we needed to do… There is no alternative. You plow through. And I prayed. Ceaselessly.
I have had so many people say to me, “Kathryn I don’t know how you and Jeff have done it…” You have gotten to such a good place. These folks are correct. The Beauties are good. They are healthy and we are facing more “normal” teenage life and some of our more serious struggles have settled. Ian has blossomed in High School with a great core group of friends. He had a part in his schools’ production of West Side Story—he by the way is a fantastic dancer. Norah is well on her way to a solid recovery, she landed herself in the state science fair, and has a girl tribe that is amazing—she is living a full life we couldn’t even have imagined.
But I must say, I often look at these folks as if they have two heads. “I don’t know how you have done it?” What the heck? What choice do you have? You roll up your sleeves and you do what you have been called to do. You parent. I’m not my children’s friend. I will never be their friend. I’m their MOTHER, and I have the stretch marks, grey hair, the sleepless nights and bags under my eyes to prove it. And each night in the darkness of the journey, just before we fall asleep, Jeff would reach over, kiss me and remind me of our mantra, “We lived to fight another day. We’ve got this.”
Which is why Mother’s Day is such an important day. Let today be the reminder that you aren’t alone. There are women all around the world doing the same impossible work you are doing. Wondering in their showers if they are good enough, if they are the right person to shepherd these humans that they have been given. Let me tell you…you are. How do I know, because I have faced that darkness, that fear and I have lived to fight another day and the one after that. Each day you get up, and you face your fear, that horrible voice that tries to tell you that you don’t have it… you get stronger. No one is perfect in this journey, we all stumble, but it is in the stumbles that you meet yourself. Be kind to yourself, give yourself permission to not be perfect and love yourself as deeply and as profoundly as you love your children.
My beautiful sisters, don’t fear the darkness because I promise you one day very soon, you will step out of that shower and your day will be filled with an ordinary and perfect day, a day filled with a sunshine so bright it just may blind you.
The days are long for a reason, we have much to do and you are doing the good, exhausting work of motherhood. You’ve got this… don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Namaste my sisters, the Divine in me bows and honors the Divine in you.
You are fearless. Happy Mother’s Day.