Mothers

(A tribute to those who shape little lives)

Photo courtesy of Daniel Meckes

Mother-noun \ muhth-er \ one who loves without an asterisk, generally found to be overworked and exhausted; a miracle worker who wears many hats & can make chicken soup out of chicken feathers.

 

Motherhood-noun\ muhth-er-hood \ a lifelong endeavor that starts with prenatal vitamins & never ends; the hardest and most important work conceivable (pardon the pun).

I’d like to begin by acknowledging that there are some who are estranged from their mothers & others who have never known the love of a mother (or father) at all.

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Yet this is where it gets really inspiring. Because some of the most amazing parents I know have overcome negative or abusive role models to beat the odds & become the mothers (or fathers) they never had.

 

 

They are the mothers they always wanted.

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Sometimes life calls on us to give what we were never given.

Sometimes other people’s wrong choices lead us to the right places.

The best thing about these not-merely-impressive-but-heroic souls is that they don’t even see the miracle of it all, because they can't imagine being any other way. They saw a bigger story for their lives than what was withheld from them.

 

 

Adversity can bring out the best in people, and that’s certainly true of them (you).

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Since I have enormous respect for mothers of one child (and in my book single mothers are candidates for sainthood), you can imagine the high regard I hold for my own mother who birthed five rug rats in a span of 10 years. How fortunate I am to have been surrounded my whole life by such a generous soul.

 

 

Yet we all know that good parenting isn’t about being storybook perfect.  It’s an over-idealization that a mother’s effect on her children is always good. Impossible, even for the most well-intentioned mothers.

 

 

Their sway over their children’s lives is so all-encompassing that any shortcoming or limitation is bound to influence their progeny in some manner.

 

 

But this is not a story of regrets; it’s a story of sidling into grace.

 

 

Author Byron Katie put it this way to comic effect, “Parents are responsible for all their kids’ problems. And kids are responsible for the solutions.”

 

 

It just may be that God had this in mind all along in this sometimes messy,  but ultimately redeeming journey we call life.

 

 

To be alive. To be human. To be imperfect.

 

 

For mothers to forgive themselves for their frailties. For children to love their mothers for their vulnerabilities, not despite them.

 

 

To transmute our childhood wounds into wisdom, kindness, understanding  & love.

 

 

Finding the solutions to our problems has made us who we are today. And the same will go for your kids.

 

 

Yet this notion of “imperfect” parenting with both strengths & struggles doesn’t detract one iota from your greatness.  Just the opposite.  You are forces of nature  (persons possessing unnatural power or God-like power) carrying out the most challenging, most important job in the world.

 

 

So, dear über women, my wish for you is this: That you nurture yourselves as much as you nurture those around you – that you give to yourselves as you give of yourselves. Since over-giving tends to produce over-taking, your self-care indirectly benefits your children (& all the rest of us too). Think of doing it for the greater good.

 

 

Find a way to indulge all of your loves & layers outside of motherhood. (After all, moms are people too, not just functionaries in a role.)

 

 

Leave the laundry behind now & again. Take a day of domestic insurrection here & there. Order take-out. Hire a cleaning service.

 

 

And most of all: Revel in who you are & lavish radical kindness on yourself.

 

And know this way down deep: Every day adds up to a legacy, not necessarily in the grandiose, but within each little life you shape.

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