Today is my fifth Mother’s Day. Many of these days have included some sort of special brunch out with my family. I adore my family and I love spending time with them, creating memories that will hopefully last a lifetime.
For some reason, this Mother’s Day has gone a bit more to the practical side and less of the idealized version. I have been extremely busy lately with work and volunteering. My request to my husband for this day was, “Can I just sleep in as late as I feel like sleeping?” Once I was awake, my husband planned to take the girls away for a few hours so that I might have some time to write.
As I got settled out on my patio to write, I realized the sheets my youngest, potty-training daughter had peed on last night needed to be switched into the dryer. So I changed the load of laundry into the dryer, but resisted the urge to start a new load. I sat down again and saw that the black widow I’ve been hunting over the last few days was showing itself and so I went to the garage to get the spider spray. I sprayed that dark spider until it had turned white from the gross chemical. For all you nature lovers, I have to let you know up front that I love and respect nature, but I will kill a spider anytime it is around my house without any remorse! My father almost died from a black widow bite and I have no desire for that to become a family tradition.
Back at the computer, I settle in to let my creativity pour out. The idea I have been pondering today is the experience of being a mother, in all of its diversity. My journey has been so different than I expected. If you ask me if I like being a mother, I will repsond immediately that I love it! My love for my children is something that can’t be explained. It’s like asking someone if they like their arm. Of course you like your arm, it’s part of you, you can’t imagine not having it. It’s not that I can’t remember life before children, but now that I have known them, I don’t ever want to imagine life without them. They are part of me. They are the physical embodiment of the love between my husband and I. Literally, because we love each other, they exist.
The part of motherhood I wasn’t expecting was how much of my selfishness has been washed away. Truly putting other’s before yourself is not a natural choice. However, I place my children’s needs ahead of mine without even thinking. I’m not talking about that weird kind of thing where you see children control the house in an unhealthy way. I’m talking about that instant reaction that completely bypasses any logical thought, where you come to your child’s aid before you even fully realize they need help. Or the knowing deep within that your child needs you, even though they never made a sound.
The other part of motherhood I didn’t expect was the disappearance of my lazy bone. I accomplish more on any given day now than I ever have before, and that’s saying a lot! I swear I’ve learned how to bend time! This holds true in every part of my life, not just the parts directly related to my children. I can’t explain it and I don’t even know if I like it. There is part of me that liked having the freedom to be lazy. Now lazy has to be planned (and often paid for in babysitting).
Another unexpected part of my journey has been the way my girls have changed how I see myself. My eldest daughter is VERY feminine and has been this way from the start. She’s like a little butterfly, flitting around and dancing from flower to flower. She has taken the time many times to express to me how beautiful she thinks I am. Sometimes it has been when I am dressed up for something, but more frequently it is when we are just hanging out together. She has taken her little hands and placed them on either of my cheeks and said, “You are so beautiful, mommy.” In these moments, I believe God is using her to speak to my heart. She has called me beautiful without any need for me to have the commercial trappings of “beauty.” She sees true beauty, God beauty, which is innate and rises from the internal.
The last way I’ve been surprised by motherhood are all the times I have laughed at experiences that would never have been funny to me before. Like one of the first times I flew with my eldest daughter and ended up in the middle seat with her on my lap. Just as we were about to take off, I realized that she had just peed through her diaper and onto my lap. I knew there was nothing I could do to fix it and instead of being grossed out by my pee saturated skirt, I just started laughing. I have many more stories, but I’m realizing they probably won’t even be funny to you, so I’ll spare the details. Just trust me when I say I’ve laughed a lot, but not at what was expected.
Today is my third Mother’s Day without my own mother. As people speak of sending cards and flowers to their mothers, I am reminded that she is not there to receive anything I’d want to send her. While there is sadness in this, I also realize I honor her daily in the way I care for my girls. I frequently hear echoes of my mother’s words in what I speak to my children. It makes me happy to know that even though they didn’t get the chance to know her, they will know how she loves them through my love. That is beautiful!