Mother’s Day: In Celebration

I waited.
A rare Sunday morning at home amp’d up by the knowledge that there was something special about the day, I waited. The question of going to church put to rest ’cause of health issues, I tried basking in the glow of a blissful morning in bed with no immediate requirements for getting up, a cup of coffee waiting on the bedside table graciously brought to me by my husband. 
Then, the sound of light exuberant footsteps down the hall, the eight year old (and only boy) in his Spider-Man jammies appeared around the corner waving a piece of paper. “Happy Mother’s Day!” He cheerfully said and handed me his card. And for a few minutes, I felt full with the acknowledgment of my self, my purpose, my vocation. Oohs and aahs uttered and every nook and cranny inspected, studied, discussed, and celebrated, the boy left, and the waiting resumed. Coffee sipped and returned to its bedside post, I think I may have actually folded my hands and pursed my lips, maintaining my station like some frozen, bitter, thin-lipped spinster.
See, I’m the mom here.
 There are five children in my care aged 8 to 17. I stay at home to care for and educate the younger ones, though my specs matter less than the role that ‘Mother’ does on this day. If you’ve acted as mother, been one, longed for one, longed to be one, need a gift for one, are wrestling with your thoughts towards one, Mother’s Day feels big. And for a few smug, lonely, self-righteous moments this morning, I felt cheated out of what I was owed. As though my title is what ought to have earned me accolades instead of my merit.

 They’re not here right now. That’s big all by itself. I’ve joked the handful of times that the library or bank ladies have pointed out my lack of children-presence that, “I don’t know what to think about!” when the kids aren’t with me. I joke, but it’s true. And just now, with no one to think about, no one to consider but me as I’m hungry and in need of a meal, what in the heck would I do were I to sustain continuous days of such a lack of consideration? What would I think about were my thinking not continuously interrupted by a smaller, younger, newer person inevitably in need of something whether it was a meal, or a word, direction, or instruction? What would I produce were I left to think about anything I wanted for an unchecked length of time? I don’t know. And frankly? (I realized to my utter surprise and joy) I don’t care.
 Because it’s not time for that. Right now, I have the rare and blessed privilege of caring for others. It’s not optional (which is probably the only reason I’m still doing it). If I don’t show up, if I don’t figure out the meal, the schoolwork, yeah, maybe someone else could step in, but there’s only one me. There’s only one me who knows these children quite the way I do. And that’s pretty darn cool.
 I keep a journal for each of my children, and though I don’t write nearly as often as maybe I originally intended, I try and write at least once a year as a way of “checking in.” I’d planned to record in words all that I inevitably wouldn’t record in keepsakes or photos. Like all things motherhood (caring-for-anotherhood), it was an easier thing to think about than it was an actual keeping-up-with-in-real-life thing. But it turns out that as I write, I know things about these people in my care. If being a mom wasn’t so terribly humbling for all the mistakes, it might be terribly heady as a power trip. You know some things about some people. And if you don’t, you should. 
Maybe that’s the lesson. Mom’s? Celebrate knowing some things about some folks and in that, use that knowledge to build up and empower them in a way no one else on earth can do. Mom’s? Or those-acting-in-as-mom’s? Think about how much you know about those in your care. If there are some gaps, celebrate this Mother’s Day by getting closer… ‘Cause there ain’t no replacement for a mother’s love; unless it’s a damn fine substitute. Earn your “Happy Mother’s Day!”
‘Cause that’s all our opportunity. To be the thing-that-no-other’s-willing-to-be to another human being. A love that sets aside all its own agenda for the sake of another. Mom’s? Celebrate the opportunity. Mom’s? Celebrate looking forward to doing better. Not a mom but aware of Mom-Power? Celebrate getting to be a damn fine substitute. 
Ain’t nothing like a mother, people. Ain’t nothin’ like love. And if the two aren’t synonymous for you, they ought to be. Love like a mother. Love like you wanna be loved, wish you’d been loved, imagine being loved. And if you’re the mom wanting celebrated? Be celebration-worthy.
My kids are awesome. Did they deliver what I wanted? Maybe not in the way I wanted, but love isn’t about what we get. It’s about what we can give. 
A good mom celebrates what she can give. Not what she gets.

Tasks… And a cheerful doing


Today’s the day I fell in love with food.

I’ve always loved eating food, but its endless preparation? Not so much. I haven’t exactly begrudged it, but I haven’t loved it.┬áThis is unfortunate because I make a lot of food and really often. But today, quite without warning, this thing-I-have-to-do-or-at-least-think-about-every-single-day took on a new delight.

I can’t take any credit. I’ve screwed enough things up to know the good things I experience have nothing to do with me. Today’s love affair – like any other – caught me quite off guard. And it wasn’t because everything went perfectly. Taken from another angle, you’d notice the loaves in the above picture didn’t rise quite as much as (I would consider) ideal. Also knowing my tendency towards fickle (moody?), I know that tomorrow might bring quite another conversation that may sound nothing like this one. I might talk about how sick I am of spending so much time in the kitchen. I might bemoan that no one seems to see the crumbs on the counter or cleans up the unidentified sticky spots on the floor. (In our house we have someone called Itwasntme who’s normally the offender.)

Anyway, this falling in love with one of my household tasks and all its quirks and (’til today) annoyances has happened before. Take laundry. One day I was retrieving the clothes from the washer for approximately the 11,000th time (I actually did the math this morning to roughly calculate how many loads of laundry I’ve done in my married/motherhood life. Some people count profit margins, I count clean clothes.) and I suddenly loved it. Where it had before seemed an endless chore it suddenly became a comforting task. It had a start and a finish. Sniff (the nose is the measuring rod in our house), gather, wash, dry, fold, put away. Repeat. At least 11, 600 times. (For those of you who are stuffy about all things green, would it help to know that I do full loads and dry on a clothesline whenever I can?). Laundry, I realized, leaves my mind free to roam while keeping my hands busy. And you know it allows for alone time (the others in my household do not share my Laundry-Doing-Is-Sacred perspective).

Maybe it happens when you do something so much that you either drown in a mundane-tasks-depression or you decide to love it. Though like I said, I don’t know that I decided so much as something just switched over. I will say that I was giving thanks intermittently during both processes. (Not that I can take credit for that. Prayer and its doing is yet another gift inspired by not-me.) Been prayerful. I see a trend is what I’m saying. Slime on the broccoli earns it a blessed place on the compost pile, sourdough not rising presents more as another bread lesson learned than as a baker-failure, sticky rice seemed, well it was still sticky but I didn’t mind it as much, I was even grateful for slimy pre-cooked chicken as it meant we were having chicken. Crumbs, instead of being an annoyance, reminded me that there’s a lot of life ’round these parts. This spills over to the endless piles of laundry, children’s chatter, 7 billion dishes to wash (and counting. Ok, not really, but it would be a REALLY big number), aggravating relationship troubles, lawn mower maintenance, frustrating coworkers – whatever our daily challenge(s). These aren’t just┬ásimple sucky things-to-get-through. They’re sacred ground spaces, and they’re everywhere if we have the eyes for it. I know that I’ve talked about this before, but it’s such a wonderful gift to see things with an eye towards redemption. No matter how messy, uncomfortable, or inconvenient our circumstances, there is a great sacredness – a great potential – in all of it. I’m not theorizing: giving thanks for things, maybe especially for that thing we first found unsavory, elevates the thing. Redeems it. Redeems us. And if there’s a gift, there must be a Giver. Thanking Him’s appropriate and it changes everything. He’s not stingy, people. Given a little attention, He does things like make tiny moments and seemingly insignificant tasks magical.

Y’know, like how we expected and hoped life would be.

Liberation (of motherhood and otherwise)

  
Sometimes I think I could stay here
All quiet and thoughtful up on this mountaintop
If only I could remain undisturbed

And left alone

THEN what a difference I’d make

And then I remember that I have you to thank

For all my best and worst rising to the surface

You help catalyze all my grandness and terribleness

And all this facing’s what makes a person whole

Without your love

Without you to love

I’d just be all face

And no facing

Void of depths

Too heavy on shallow heights

Thank you for all your yous

Meeting all my me.

And please, God, may my me (with You) liberate their mes as much as they’ve saved mine.

Expenditures of loving these all that fills right up:

Love’s liberation

Love’s Thrill

  

 When the children came, “thrill” left

 Replaced by care and caution and love’s breadth

 Not always safe: the pursuit of safe.

 Lots may die in the wake of hesitate.

 But ah! That is not all there is.

 Before them wonder was a largely private (selfish) affair

 After them – with them, because of them – I am expanded

 Expanded in delight not just my own, but in delight in theirs

 What a gift! What a gift to be enlarged

 And stretched beyond my own thin skin

 These trenches and crumbs are not beneath me

 These are where the real life is – the full life is

 Forced outward love stretches all my womanhood

  – anyone’s personhood through parenthood – 

 Battle waged I am forced to reckon with these, with me

 To find that my self’s death is the truest liberty

 To be present and free from my own way:

 (Not just in order to indulge another’s whim)

 – But to provide what’s needed –

 This is liberation: realizing wholly the love within.

 So to find I’ve grown – and am willing more still –

 Becomes the delight of sacrifice – true love’s thrill

 To find that before I gloried in the small

 I’d venture I knew Glory not at all.