“It seems odd to celebrate one’s mom is just one day. Someone so important should be celebrated every day.” Anonymous, because he’d prefer it that way.
I have seven gorgeous children who are the light of my life. Six are adults, and one is just 7 years old. They are truly amazing, though I admit to a bit of bias. To say that they are accomplished is an understatement, and that includes the 7 year old. While their accomplishments are good for bragging rights, they are their accomplishments, not mine, and their accomplishments are not what makes them so special. As I have always said, I wouldn’t care what they did as long as they are happy doing it.
What makes them so amazing is their personalities, and their character. They are kind and generous. They are loving and they are funny as can be. They can laugh at themselves, and no one can get me laughing faster, or harder, than my children, with my sisters coming in at a close second. They help me laugh at myself, and we have those family stories that are hilarious to us every time. We have a secret language of movie quotes that we all understand, and can use to convey a variety of thoughts and emotions. “Keep the change you filthy animal,” means “I love you,” or “You owe me nothing, it’s a gift.” We’re all a little nutty, in a good way, of course. We we are all together, the room vibrates with love, hot conversation, and tons and tons of laughter. Individually, we are all quiet people, and true introverts, but together we are a gaggle of kindred spirits knowing we are fully home.
However, their greatest gifts lie in their ability to forgive, and to move forward, and to recalculate life, and the people in it, as needed. This is what means the most to me, because I have required forgiveness more than most mothers. I have required forgiveness again, and again, and again, and each time it’s been freely given. They’ve forgiven the years of drinking, and my inability to be there for them properly. They have forgiven the times I was physically absent due to rehab stays, or jail stays, or prison. They have forgiven lavishly, with no lingering resentments, and they have moved forward in their view of me as I have recovered. In many ways, we have been growing up together and they have been as patient with me as I have been with them. They love me unconditionally, as I have loved them.
Yet, for many years, because of all of the guilt and shame I dragged around because of my perceived poor performance as a mother, I lagged behind them both in my forgiveness of myself, and my ability to recalculate who I am today, as opposed to who I was 10 years ago. I have been forced to stop and look at myself through their eyes, and actually feel their words, not just hear them. They did not become who they are today in some miraculous vacuum. They remind me of this often, and of course, their father has played a role, the older kids having seen the worst, and the youngest having been spared most of that. Because of my children, and God’s grace, which underpins all of this, I have been able to forgive myself, and I am getting up to speed in the recalculating of my view of me. I thank God every day for these precious people that He trusted me to care for and love, flawed as I am.
My own mother died over 24 years ago, and I miss her terribly. Although we had bumps in our relationship, by the time she died, we had reached a place of deep friendship. She was always the first person I wanted to call when anything happened in my life, good or bad. Now, I am blessed to have three women in my life who are both friends, and mothers to me. One woman spoils me silly, and is a grandmother to my 7 year old, though there are no blood ties. Another is chock full of common sense, and tells it like it is. She loves to cook, too, like I do, so we share recipes and new food finds. The third woman is the one to whom I can cry my eyes out, and I discover a bit more of myself every time I talk to her. There is reciprocity in all of these relationships, which is what makes them so special.
But, the best mother that I have now is myself. In the recalculating I have had to do—the seeing myself as all of these other very special people see me—I have come to realize that I can, and should, give every wonderful gift to myself that I give to others, and that others so richly give to me. Knowing that God has fully forgiven me, as have all of the people who matter the most to me, I realized that it is more than a little arrogant not to forgive myself, and treat myself with the love and kindness that I deserve. What a tremendous gift that has been, and it’s one that will remain. I am blessed beyond words, and I wish you all the happiest of Mother’s Day’s. Mothers come in may forms–our own mothers, our children, our friends, our sisters, ourselves. Even if you have no children, you can celebrate and honor the mother within you today.
That quote up top came from my 20 year old son… I am sure I’ll stop crying anytime now 😉 Happy Mother’s Day!