This morning, donning the blue and beige of a Culvers uniform, Eliot came to me on his way out the door with a side arm hug and whispered "Happy Mother's Day." It was nice that he remembered. It got me thinking about this day we have marked on our calendars… wether we like it or not. Much like a collage of other days with an annual reminder, it can be reduced in it's value because it seems "required"… and yet the value of contemplating mothers bears some thought.
I say this not because I am a mother and am looking for my handout of pats on the back… but because motherhood has the width and depth of an ocean deep.
It holds within it every loving act bestowed on a child, whether they were woven together beneath your own beating heart or someone else's. It holds every sleepless night, every held breathe, every bewildered decision that was made due only to that deep sense burrowed deep within a mother's soul. It holds the memories of unforgettable birthdays celebrating their life, the hugs full of happiness and the hugs to just to keep them from falling apart, the discipline that brought wisdom and the life lessons that brought valuable insight. It carries the waves of immeasurable self-sacrifice, tenderness poured out over injustice, the gentleness of bandages applied to scrapes, the hours of planning surprises and granting unimagined wishes, the moments of joining them in their imaginations, cheering the loudest because although they were all great, you favor that one special one, coaxing their creativity, delighting with them in what brings light to their eyes, getting out of bed for late night talks, liking their friends, feeding their friends and then feeding them some more. In it's swells are those moments of pouring yourself out without thought and from recesses that you didn't know you had…not because you have to, but because, like breathing, it's how you live.
Delved deep in those waters of motherhood also reside the countless questions that seem to have no answers, questions that wrestle with you deep in the night. The vulnerability blankets you as uncertainty can grow like an ugly algae on the heart of a mother who's heart is anchored with the deepest of loves and only knows the best intentions. As a young mother, I was blessed with a tapestry of older mothers who came alongside me and spoke words that became tattooed to my soul. "You're not alone in this. It's not about never making mistakes… it's about loving them as well as you know how and imploring God to mend any unintended brokenness your failures leave behind." Mothering my sons will forever be the best and hardest thing I have ever done. I'm so grateful for the grace they've shown me as I've learned how to be the mom they needed and am overwhelmingly thankful that God is more than able to make right any mistakes I have made along the way.
Beyond my own personal journey, I have come to know that within this deep, beautiful ocean of motherhood lies the wreckage of heartache and sorrows as well. Young mother's lives that ended far too young left motherless children bearing hollow caverns that have no name but ache all the same. The loss of a mother who lived a full life leaves grown children forced to breath the unfamiliar air no longer shared with the one whose belly they grew inside of. Countless mothers who were wounded by their own mothers are left gasping for air as they fight to be more than what they were told they were. Mother's who have stood over a tear stained box bearing a part of them… there are no words for such loss. In my opinion, those who've bore that grief are the strongest among us.
Motherhood is a deep ocean with swells of beauty and life, but within it's belly lie countless wreckage, some visible and some hidden beneath the ocean floor. I write this as a thank you to those mothers I have learned from - the moms who looked like they have it all together and the ones clearly just trying to keep it all together. I am the mom I am for having sat at your knee, eaten at your table, watched you love your children and listened to you bravely tell your story. Motherhood is not a journey we take alone. We need each other. Our children, our stories and our experiences are as vastly different as the seashells scattered along the beach. Some are lovely and beautiful, some are cracked and missing parts and some barely resemble their original form. These stages of life, the infant we can't take our eyes off of, the toddler who burrows in your neck, the teen discovering who they really are, the young adults beginning to stand on their own and the adults left standing on their own…we need to walk alongside each other. Sometimes we need to hold each other up. Sometimes we need help and sometimes we need someone to hold our grown up face in their hands and stare us in the eyeballs and say "You're not alone in this…"