Happy Mother’s Day! Ann Jarvis, in 1868, worked to establish a Mother’s Friendship Day in support of families being reunited following the Civil War. Her daughter would continue in her mother’s footsteps and Mother’s Day was born. (Sonora Dodd would follow to establish Father’s Day, as a nod to her father, a Civil War veteran and single father of 6 children). But let’s be honest – 1 day! One day is all we get, and if some of your Mother’s Days have been like mine, our spouses and kids sometimes take Mother’s Day to mean a special day to honor you while you do what you do every single day. But hey, they gave us a card they bought at 11 pm the night before and even though they forgot to sign it before they sealed the envelope it’s the thought that counts, right? Ugh! Ladies, if I ever do write a book, I promise to include an entire chapter on “The Right Way to Celebrate the Women You Love”.
I joke, but I do appreciate the effort. I really do. I know it all could have gone much differently.
I was quite sure, totally certain, I never wanted to be a Mama. My Fave and I miscarried 5 months after we were married; until I lost a baby, I had not desire to have one. None. Zero. But there’s something that happens when you’re doing with life with someone who loves all you; sometimes your “No. Never.” sounds more like “Sure. Maybe.” In my case it sounded like, “Yes and I want it immediately.” In July 2002, my third pregnancy, yielded a heartbeat that is still beating more than 16 years later. JTM made me what I never thought I wanted to be in March 2003. My pregnancy was high risk and scary but my labor was just 6 hours – I think it was God’s way of saying “I love you.”
CJM followed in November 2004; super easy pregnancy but because C, who to this day, never wants to do anything just like J does he was a monster baby who had to be taken via scheduled c-section 2 weeks early; my 4’10” stature and J’s quick delivery meant labor would likely be something one or the both of us wouldn’t survive.
I love my boys. Love them! But being a Mama is not for the weak and add in mental illness that sometimes takes as much attention to manage as motherhood and holy goodness – I have no idea how our boys have made it to 14 and 16! I went light on meds with J (bipolar is managed really well by a med that comes with a high risk of spina bifida). With C I didn’t even bother to be on meds. Trying to manage pills that have to be taken at certain times of the day and have a variety of side effects doesn’t really work when a tiny human is running your entire life. So when the 2nd tiny human came along, I quit trying to manage meds. It sort of felt like it was them or me; I’m a Mama so I picked them. I got back on meds just after C’s 1st birthday when a call to My Fave found me saying, “I need you to come home – I’m filling the bathtub for the boys’ bath and am afraid to put them in because I am not sure they’ll make it out.” and it became clear that life without meds wasn’t going to work out so well for me. As horrid as it is when a Mama kills her babies because she is certain it is better than having to be raised by a monster, I get it. I don’t excuse it, but I get it. I swear to this day, it was Jesus that forced me to make that phone call because I was certainly not capable on my own.
My Fave has been a unwavering rock and lighthouse on the super stormy sea that Mamahood has been for me. There is a special place in heaven for the spouses of Warriors. All the days that I cried ugly about being selfish for bringing kids into my world of crazy. The countless times I talked about how horrible I was for even taking a risk of them getting the genes that caused my chaos. The grace he’s given me for the many, many times that I could barely keep myself alive which meant he had to be both Mama & Daddy. Every marriage has its challenges, the difficulties of which are self-measured; I can only say that I look back at our life since we met nearly 20 years ago and often wonder “What sort of a glutton for punishment must he be to have stayed when anyone else would have run and done it fast?” He showed me how to love someone when they are anything but lovable and did it because he believes I am worth – crazy and all.
My own Mama and I have taken quite the journey to get to this day, too. I’m going to guess that when I entered the world 46 years and 357 days ago she didn’t quite picture our life together being what it’s been. We got it wrong a lot; sometimes it was her doing but I own a bunch of it, too. It took time and hard work and honesty and understanding and grace and stretches of total hell for us to get here.
I think we both had to go through the journey so we could each be prepared for what it was going to be like when I became a Mama and she became a Grandma (Gaags or G-ma as she’s now affectionately known). She’s stepped in to be the Mama when I couldn’t be. She’s stepped in and been Mama & Daddy because Daddy was taking care of Mama. She’s taught me, with unreal gentleness, the lessons she learned while parenting me and my sister (we’re about as different as J & C are). She’s unconditional love on steroids and I’ve given her more than enough reasons to not be. I think we’d both say we’re sorry for what we’ve put the other through but certain we’d change very little, if anything, along the way.
In saying all of that, I’d be remiss if I didn’t get honest and acknowledge something we forget in our own Mother’s Day celebrations: Mother’s Day isn’t always a happy one for a Mama. Sometimes it’s because you’ve wanted to be a Mama and despite your best efforts can’t be. Maybe your story includes being given the chance to be a mom but you live with the weight of a heart-wrenching decision you made because you were certain you were in no way capable. It might be a day that serves as a reminder that you’re a Mama who outlived her own child. All of those things are okay. They are more than okay. Be mad and cry and wish the day would just be over already. But do me two favors: 1) don’t unpack your bags and stay there and 2) remember who He says you are…
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25
Sidenote: Proverbs 31 is seriously misunderstood y’all.
At least once a day, over the last 16+ years, I have thought to myself, “What in the world was God thinking when He made me a Mama? He might actually be crazier than I am.” And then I look at these babies of mine and there is nothing else in the world I’d rather be doing.
I mess it up every day, sometimes more than once a day, but it’s hands down the best, hardest, most rewarding, most maddening job ever. Ever. I’ve had the chance to raise 4 tiny humans; life had other plans. Mother’s Day is a little hard for me too but each year I think I get better at just enjoying the babies we’re raising without regret or sadness or wondering what might have been.
My guys get better at it, too. My Fave set big expectations for himself when he had J bring me a Tiffany & Co bag for my 2nd Mother’s Day. We’ve not quite maintained that same leveling of showing Mama appreciation and I’ve not always been the best version of me because of it. We joke about it regularly now but it took a long time for this Mama to get there.
They’re old enough now to “shop” on their own. My gift this year – a couple of low scores on the golf course and “hardware” to show for it. Watching the babies you’ve been given to raise work hard and sacrifice and chase their dreams is the best gift ever – bringing home “hardware” is simply a bonus. Their Daddy did good this year too – a guilt-free day of shopping and lunch at one of my favorite spots with my Miller Men, my Mom and my sister and her family, marking the first Mother’s Day I haven’t been tasked with cooking.
Happy Mother’s Day, Warriors. Be good and patient with yourselves, Mamas, and don’t regret any of the moments you’ve been given, both the ones that bring a smile and the ones that bring tears. The world needs us and our stories – let’s keep showing up and leaning on each other to do it.♥