Motherhood, a Love Letter
I am a big fan of love letters. Not just for romance but to anyone you have affection for. To anyone who needs to hear that they are of value, that they are cherished. We all need to hear that. I think there need not be a special day to share words of admiration, words of kindness. But, days like today serve as great reminders to let this love that you carry around spill from your lips.
Being that today is Mother’s Day, my love for my mother is ripe in my heart.
As anyone who has ever met her would attest to, my mother is warm and steady and solid. How to say this to do her justice without sounding cliché or trite… When I think of my mother I think of her great heart. Great as in vast, vast enough to open its gates to any and everyone. Great as in strong, strong enough to weather, with grace, all the pain that has crashed over her in her life. Great as in soft, soft enough to notice and absorb the joy that this life has to offer. - I think that’s the greatest lesson I have carried on from her. Eyes trained to spot the miraculous. Eyes toned to catch glimpse of the hidden beauty. - Her heart.. cautious, yet boundless.
She became a mother young. Not too far beyond childhood herself. I made her a mother more than three decades ago. Now a decade longer than she had existed before motherhood.
My daughter made me a mother almost four years ago. And wow, I had underestimated it all. There is truly no reference point until you are there. Chest deep in it all. One moment you are the you that you have always been, and the next this force comes roaring through you, washing away everything that is not deeply rooted to your core. And dislodging even those things so that they quake as questionably as a weary tree destined to fall. You are but a week in and you can not identify who you were before. With time, all those pieces of yourself that were washed away in the wake of becoming a mother, they are slowly replaced with newfound parts of yourself. And those parts that hung on delicately and remain, reroot deeper into who you are. But all of this, all of you, is grown in this field of motherhood. The sometimes subtle, sometimes deafening backdrop of motherhood.
I’m not even four years in and the magnitude of motherhood blazes bright across my entire life, across its space and its time. And I know enough that I know I can’t possibly grasp the weight of carrying this identity for over three decades. My heart is not there yet. I know it has a lot of growing pains to live through yet.
My mother with her great heart.. I have broken that heart, I have let her down, I have pushed her away. But I was always tethered tight to her. And she never stopped showing up for me in the way she knew best. Perhaps that is how it has to be.. Time is a remarkable thing. With time, and age, I came back to her. I hope that I have grown into a woman that she respects, and who she trusts.
Sometimes I get flashes of the realization that the mother I remember at ten years old was her at the age that I am now. I can see it in my hands that look like her hands. The first hands that brought me comfort, safety, tenderness.
Sometimes I look at my little daughter and get flashes of her as the bold, courageous woman I know she will one day be. Perhaps the mother she herself will one day be.
I remind myself often that the great work of motherhood is to show up and love my child the way that she needs to be loved. There is no single way to mother best, but there is one way to mother your unique child best. And I hope against all hope that when my girl one day loses her way and drifts from me, that I can meet her where she is to offer her guidance and help her back. And if I can not, I hope that I have tethered her so that she may find her own way back. Back to herself. Back to her mother's love.
To all of you grieving today because your mother is no longer here for you to love - I see you. To all of you heartbroken because you desperately long for motherhood but do not have it - I see you. To all of you mourning loss of your children or loss of hope - I see you. For all of you in pain because your mother failed you or harmed you - I see you. I am holding you dearly in my heart.
And to the Mums - Happy Mother’s Day to all of you loving your babies, and grand-babies. Happy Mother’s Day to the woman my daughter calls Meo. Happy Mother’s Day to my wife, for loving our daughter the way that she needs to be loved, right along side of me.
And Happy Mother’s Day to my first love. My mother. I love you.