Motherhood and all that

Maternity Stock Photography

When I thought about writing something for Mother’s Day, my focus was scattered and unsure. It is like trying to write on the topic of love for Valentine’s Day. I mean it’s just so broad and all-encompassing and elicits too many ideas. Sure, I could write about my own motherhood experience (where do I start? where do I end?) and how proud I am of my nearly grown children. And what it has been like to raise three daughters, through their growing up years, having three sets of eyes watching me, learning what it means to be female and a grownup; the ways I succeeded and the ways I may have fallen short. I might like to take credit for who they are becoming, but I also know that some of this-maybe even a lot of it- really has very little to do with me.

Or I could write about the loss of my own mother after my parents’ volatile divorce when I was four, and the need for truth that this mystery evoked in me. Etched in my mind in outlines and colors, reddish hair, white skin. What would I call her? My mother or my imagination? But that story is already part of my memoir, so I will just say this about it: It has kept me off my suburban high horse, and left me knowing that where we lucky mothers paint our homes and pay our bills and hold our children close, we could possibly, easily, slip into pretending that this is how it is for all mothers, everywhere. But other mothers have other stories, sometimes tragically different from our own.

I really did not want to go on and on about any of this, so I thought I would share a link to Brain, Child magazine which has several excellent Mother’s Day posts.  I was particularly struck by Janelle Hanchette’s story, “This Mother’s Day, Celebrate Somebody Else”. After reading it, I wandered onto her blog and found another Mother’s Day post titled,I’ve Summarized Every Mother’s Day Post (in two sentences or less) So You Don’t Have to Read Them..”

So there you have it. Her language is very colorful, and certainly blunt and humorous but she has come to happiness in motherhood after some tragic years of alcoholism. Why wouldn’t she be colorful? Her suffering, and failure as a mother, eventually churns into strength and love and wisdom and surely has made her more interesting. What I found most valuable about her story is what I most want my daughters to grasp:  That if bad things ever happen to them, they will very likely come out better at the other end. Of course I wish them joyful, peaceful, and meaningful lives, preferably free from pain and loss and hardship. I want them to be happy. But what is happiness? This is what I think it is: knowing that you have an invisible strength even before you think you need it, and believing that growth and wisdom and all kinds of interesting things come from all the challenges that mothers don’t want their children to face.



1 thought on “Motherhood and all that

  1. I’m not sure you ever finish learning what it means to be a mother. As you get older you see your own mother with different eyes; as your own children get older and more independent your role changes too. But I still hear every dog whimper, every stray cat cry, try and rescue every baby bird. It never leaves you.

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