Today is Mother’s Day.
This day, perhaps more than any other day of the year carries such varied emotions. For some, it’s joyful, a celebration of the best part of their lives. For others, a reminder of abject failure. Failure in their body, in their lifestyle, in their hearts, in their actions, a woman has so many options when it comes to failing at motherhood. Optimists say motherhood is what you make of it. Realists say motherhood is the hardest job you’ll ever love. Pessimists say it is an impossible expectation placed on women.
Here’s the good news.
We’re all right.
Motherhood is all of those things.
This week I remembered one of my significant failings as it pertains to motherhood.
Yesterday I read a somewhat cryptic post from a college friend and sent her a private message to see if she was ok. She’s a single mom with four adopted children. Her oldest who is the same age as mine recently got married and will make her a grandmother later this year. Her second to the oldest, a girl just sixteen, gave her a near heart attack last week when she snuck out of a hotel in Orlando to meet a cute boy she just met. They hung out making paper airplanes. Besides the heart attack, she almost got expelled and learned some valuable life lessons. Thankfully she survived the learning process. Both of them did.
I was laughingly addressing my younger friend as grandma when I was assailed by a memory. An old memory, rusty, sharp edges, and a bit vague on the details. A very long time ago this friend asked me to write a letter of recommendation for her in an adoption process. For reasons I’ve only recently begun to understand, I couldn’t do this for her. In the end, I also couldn’t tell her no. I wrote from my own fear, loss, and confusion. The adoption did not go through. My heartbroken friend called me, devastated by my knife in her back.
Now, my recollection of the events is hazy at best. It is entirely because of her that we still speak. Her forgiveness was key. It’s only been this past year as I’ve found my birth parents, contacted the children that grew up with them and began meditating that I’ve started to untangle my difficult upbringing. I begin to understand the scared little girl that has run the show for so many years. I’m only now beginning to disarm her.
Today I’m thankful for all the mothers I’ve known and haven’t known. I’m grateful for friends who have shown me motherhood that looks very different from mine. I’m thankful for women who share their struggles and speak their stories. It’s through sharing that we learn we are not alone in our struggles or our situation. Through sharing, we connect and are stronger. We are less likely to be felled by ridiculous, shaming absolutes. We are free to mother in our own style and show how powerful every mother is.