I'm signing off the internet for the weekend. No, really. I mean it. Almost every week I'm guilty of signing off with my "Happy Friday" post, then posting some essay I finished at 1:00 am on Sunday morning because something about the word "weekend" makes me feel like there are no consequences for staying up late. This is just as untrue now as it was in college. Slow learner. But it is Mother's Day Weekend, and I am going to live it up, mom-style. (Mom-style means I will celebrate by making everybody all their meals and cleaning their living space, but I will do it happily and with a little extra spring in my step because there will be fresh flowers on my table and I'll be feeling all appreciated and validated and stuff. There WILL be flowers, right family? RIGHT?)
Madeline made some really adorable presents at preschool this week, with her little painted hand prints plastered all over them - they are hanging on the fridge now, warming my heart. But as sweet as this time is for me, it would be foolish (and pretty self-centered) of me not to acknowledge that this day is really, really difficult for a lot of people. For a lot of friends.
I have friends who have recently, or not recently, lost their mothers.
I have literally dozens friends who have lost their children through miscarriage or otherwise.
I have friends who struggle with infertility, who want to be literal, biological mothers so badly it makes them ache and howl inside.
I have friends who are fighting and waiting for their children they will bring home through adoption.
I have friends who are single parents. (Many of whom have young children and are without family close by to pull out all the stops for them this weekend.)
Now, none of that should mitigate our celebration of mothers and motherhood this weekend. Nothing should temper how joyful and thankful we are for the bond between ourselves and our mothers; ourselves and our and babies and families - it is the bond that makes this world turn. In the words of philosopher John Mayer, "Boys will be strong, boys soldier on, but boys would be gone without the warmth of a woman's good, good heart."
I'm just saying be aware. Be sensitive; open your eyes and love on every single person you can.
Here are a few of my favorite reflections on motherhood for you to peruse and enjoy this weekend. Happy Mother's Day, all!
At one point this winter I was feeling so tender and raw about it that at dinner with my family, I said, “If any of you are pregnant, I just need you to tell me now.” I said this to my almost 60-year-old parents and my single brother. They stared at me with confusion, but that point, nothing would have surprised me. My phone’s probably pregnant. That chair over there probably just got pregnant without even trying.
I became the person that people don’t want to tell. I hate that. A friend told me her happy, fantastic news, and just a second later she burst out crying, afraid for how this would make me feel. I hate that. I work really hard to arrange my face in such a way that approximates uncomplicated glee. And I am happy for them, of course. But sometimes just after the happiness is the desperation. Some days are easier than others. At one point I told Aaron that if I found out I wasn’t pregnant that month, I’d break something glass, just to feel it shatter. I was counting the days all the time, recounting, hoping.
"The Ten Worst Things To Say To Your Infertile BFF" from Fancy Little Things:
7. How is getting pregnant coming along? (I can only be one of two things: pregnant, or not pregnant. Since I haven’t mentioned it to you, dear BFF, assume the latter.)
I don’t much care if you breastfed your kid until they started kindergarten, or if you fed them formula from day one. I don’t really care if you turned your infant car-seat forward-facing prior to age 2, or if you homeschool, or if you send your kids to daycare while you go to work. Do you cosleep? Did you circumcise your son? I DON’T CARE. Do you babywear? Push your kid around in a stroller? Use a leash for your kid at Disneyland? Whatever. Good for you. When it comes to issues of motherhood, there is one issue I care about: some kids don’t have one. All of these petty wars about the choices of capable, loving mothers is just a lot of white noise to me, Quite honestly, I’m often astonished at the non-essential parenting issues I see moms getting their panties in a wad about. Particularly when there are so many kids in this world not being parented at all.
"Don't You Have 'Enough' Kids?" from We Are Grafted In:
"I do not walk around telling people that they should not move because the house they have is “enough” or that they should not get another TV because the two they already own are “enough” or that they should not buy the latest iPhone because they just bought the last version and that should be “enough.” Can you imagine how inappropriate it would be for me to say that to a friend? People judge us, believing it is was wrong and foolish that we went into debt to pay for an adoption of two children, but think nothing of going into debt themselves for a newer car, a bigger house, or even the latest computers, gadgets, and fashions."
"She Knows Better Than Most" from Marvelous in Our Eyes:
After the usual, "Thank yous and God blesses", she said, "...and God be with those children who haven't got Mommies and Daddies yet." This was completely unprompted by me and out of the blue...she knows more about this than most of us can even imagine!
REFLECTIONS ON SINGLE PARENTHOOD "Of Heartache and Shame" from Abby and Eva:
I recently read a post by another single mom here comparing single mothers to widows and it stirred a lot of emotions I usually suppress. You would think that after four years, I wouldn’t care much what people think about single moms or the stigma that is associated. I appear to be pretty tough and I’m a good mother...Actually, I care a lot.
REFLECTIONS ON HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO RAISE LITTLE PEOPLE "I Don't Want To Raise A Good Child" from Proverbs 31 Ministries:
Really, nothing makes the mother of a toddler feel more incapable than seeing her naked child splashing in the mall fountain. Except maybe that toddler refusing to get out and said mother having to also get into the fountain. I cried all the way home. Not because of what she'd done that day. But rather because of how she was everyday. So determined. So independent. So insistent. I would beg God to show me how to raise a good child.
"Don't Carpe Diem" from Glennon Melton:
I think parenting young children (and old ones, I've heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they've heard there's magic in the climb...They try because even though it hurts and it's hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.
And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers -- "ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU'LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN'T!" TRUST US!! IT'LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!" -- those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.
"The Dreaded Year" from dooce (**Warning** Very foul language alert):
Three-years-olds. They are awful, horrible people. I didn't say they were the WORST people but only because I'm sure there are murderers out there who listen to Nickelback. You've never lived with a three year old? It goes something like this:"Stop. Stop. Stop. STOP IT. STOP. STOP. No. NO. NOOOOOO. STOP. STOP. Put it down. Put it down. PUT IT DOWN. NOW. STOP. No. No. NO. NO. STOP. NOW. NOOOOWWWW. STOP IT. So help me god, put the fish back in its bowl."
My Mother's Day post from last year, "Wherein I Propose My Mathematical Theory."
So it’s not just that you have less time because you’re parenting multiple kids. It’s that you have less time to clean more things. AND there are more people moving their more things around – and you have to supervise them and clean it up, with your less time. It’s not addition – it’s multiplication.
Now go love on your mamas!