Friday, March 19, 2010

Mothers, I honor you.

As women, we share a unique relationship with one another. As mothers, the bond strengthens even more. I believe we understand one another better than our spouses understand us, we need each other. I’ll never forget when I first found out I was pregnant with Ava. Immediately, there was a noticeable difference in my relationship with other mother’s, an acceptance from a new group of women—the unspoken society of motherhood.

They saw me differently than before. For some women, it marked the day I finally grew up and with others, I discovered a unique compassion. I was invited in; a new-found respect took hold. (And I hadn’t even done anything yet!) This quiet allegiance to one another becomes idle potential for us, an unmarked treasure on our journey-- to stretch, grow and connect in ways no other species is capable—that is when we aren’t busy comparing our child’s latest accomplishment.

While I believe motherhood is the greatest gift we will encounter in life; (I can’t think of one woman I have met to say differently), we don’t always recognize or utilize this gift of camaraderie. Instead, we get tangled in a competitive web of judgment as we struggle with our own self doubt by measuring ourselves up next to every other mother. Our ability to open and connect with one another as women becomes our nemesis. Our culture doesn’t recognize lying down in complete humiliation-vulnerable and weak-as something valuable to share. We are to handle anything and everything in confidence and with a “mother’s intuition”.

Hindsight creates a faded perspective, a paled version of the journey. Every journey seeps a distinctive truth when perception and experience are shared during the travel. On this journey through motherhood, we ought to spend more time with one another on the course—honoring each other more often along the way,even if it means throwing ourselves under the bus every now and then.

I’ve been thinking about all the women I know and love. Those who have long been where I’m at in life, those who are here with me now, and those who have not yet crossed over to the new version of their life as a mom. This diverse group of women, who influence my perspective and personal experience, are a gift. I hope you know who you are.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Happy Birthday

33 years ago today, you brought me into this world. Your resilient strength is living proof of the powerful ability we have to change our own circumstance. I’m so proud of all you’ve overcome these past few months, you are an inspiration. It’s a full circle moment for me, I totally get it now. Thank you for all the sacrifice and selfless acts of love you have given over the past 33 years…I will be forever grateful and a piece of you will always go with me. This is for you mom.

December 2009
My first glimpse at mortality came late last year. I learned my mom had two heart attacks and suddenly, everything stood still. I’ve loss special people in my life before but this scare was something different. I understood differently than I had before… I needed my mom more than I had ever known.

Of course I’ve always loved my mom. Moms are permanent fixtures, they belong with their children and I had never imagined it any other way. Every family has one person with whom everyone stays connected, this is my mom. She is the glue holding my family together.

When I first received the phone call, I was in shock. I didn’t yet know how bad it was and my mind began wandering to places it’s never been before. This is what it means to grow up, I am an adult. Bad things happen and life goes on…you don’t always get a choice. I’M a mom now, I can’t need anyone else like this anymore, and I needed to be stronger than this—for Ava. Without trying to sound morbid, it was as if I was already trying to adjust to the idea. A self preservation mode began to ensue as I felt myself callus, avoiding the alternative.

When people talk about mom, they smile. I imagine they are hearing her laugh. I envisioned never hearing my mom’s laughter again, (you always know she’s there before you see her) this is the first thought to come to mind. Her contagious laugh has become a language of its own, one of the many reasons I love her. My mom is someone who can entirely transform the energy in a room by her presence and her laugh. (You will usually find her in the kitchen).

My mom, she has a million expressions and an equal amount of emotion to match each one. She is the most emotional, vulnerable human being I have ever met…it’s beautiful. You can see other people’s pain in her eyes, her depth of compassion is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Family has always been most important to mom. No amount of money or material possession stands a chance up next to the value she puts on family. Mom lives life larger than anyone I know—everything is blown perfectly and completely out of proportion. I watch how excited she gets over the simplest of moments and am overwhelmed with admiration. She teaches many lessons with the way she lives her life.

It once drove me crazy, how gullible she is—mom will believe anything you tell her and trusts everyone she meets. The older I get the more I learn; most people don’t possess this gift. People have become so cynical and skeptical, one of the reasons our world is so dark. Many of us are closed and self-focused, not mom (I often tease her for making a best friend out of every stranger she meets). With mom you get to see everything, all at once; her transparency draws you closer to her.

Too many of us go an entire lifetime, never scratching the surface of where mom lives life—in pure, authentic, earnest truth. Mom, thank you. The fear and doubt of raising Ava will diminish each time I see in her—if even so slightly—a reflection of you.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Everyday Familiar

When something is familiar it is, according to Webster, 1: belonging to or characterizing one’s deepest nature 2: closely acquainted: intimate. It’s no surprise to find the word intimate within the Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word familiar. Isn’t this why familiar is safe and comfortable?

Many familiarities in my life bring abundant joy. The warm cup of coffee in my hand on a Saturday morning, the smell of a wood burning fire roaring to life, the white noise of eager conversation traveling through our home on Christmas Day, and the vibrant warm colors of fall hanging below the clear blue sky on a crisp fall morning…these are just a few memories consistently awakening my senses in the comfort of familiar.

We are programmed to feel safe with what is familiar to us. One of the first lessons we are taught as parents is to create this consistent familiarity of routine for our children (people are making millions of dollars writing books about how and when your baby is to sleep, eat and play and my neurotic craving for predictability keeps these books flying off the shelf). However, I find much irony in this place of familiarity—with a fear of contentment existing as an intimate disguise for complacency (I know this exists, I’ve met these people). To find light in where I am, not in where I am headed. Maybe this is the journey, to find contentment without getting paralyzed by complacency.

Standing still hurts, literally. My familiar has always been to live in this constant state of motion and control rather than the quiet stillness of “going with the flow”-both physically and metaphorically speaking. (It is too obvious to talk about the cliché overuse of “finding balance” so I’m not even going to go there for now). Just focusing on the raw truth of my inability to comfortably sit still gives me great challenge.

I remember my pre-Ava days as if they are a distant memory; a vanishing former life. In the state of self absorbed ignorance, I would barely come up for air. I didn’t even know what I was missing. On the surface, it can look quite impressive. What appears to be a productive or ambitious life can quickly get buried and lost in the tornado of accomplishment- failing to notice the gifts to be discovered in the process. When we get like this, (I believe at any age we are in danger), and we aren’t present, we usually aren’t the first to notice. Amazing how one little girl is capable of completely changing the game for me.

Children won’t let us stay here too long, will they? I’m grateful for the constant reminder, the umbilical cord Ava has maintained in keeping me present and happy with ordinary every day. Ava will never remember much of the day by day of her childhood, yet, so many of the “little” things we do together are what leave infinite imprint on her life. I get to inspire and influence her familiar (no pressure). This may be the most significant mission I ever set out to accomplish.

Although Ava may look back with vague memory of specifics, at the end of her time I am hopeful she will experience heartfelt refuge in the comfort of the intimate familiars her life has created. This is the hope of every mother, isn’t it?