Tag Archives: mothers day

Mother’s Day Lament

Mother’s Day Lament

There is little that compares to the emptiness I feel on Mother’s Day morning. My children remember me and bring coffee and love notes. Friends and family send kind words. And yet, it is one of the hardest days of the year because of what feels like it is missing: The expectation of what I thought motherhood would be.
I thought I would be a better mother, more organized, more nurturing, better at caring for the little darlings that I brought into the world. I thought I’d make more chore charts and handmade yarn mittens, I thought I’d coach more after school sports, or at least bring more orange slices. I thought I’d plan more Harry Potter themed birthday parties complete with talking sorting hats and brooms strung from the ceiling with fishing line. I thought I’d be tired less and self evolved less. I thought I’d kill fewer indoor plants, outdoor herbs and tropical fish. I thought I’d rescue more kites from trees and find more lost cats and shoes and important papers. I thought I’d do more, do it more smoothly and with less shouting. I’d kiss more and yell less.
I once believed it was my destiny to be a wife and mother. I’d be the best at both, a natural by virtue of the sheer quantity of good mothers and wives that I observed in fiction and reality alike. I saw and read about great mothers, doing mother things with ease and delight. But, I didn’t hear much about the loneliness of motherhood, the bone shaking doubt, the crippling fear of utter incompetence that accompanies caring for other human beings. The ache a mother feels at caring so deeply for her children. The feeling that I am simultaneously the most influential and the least competent person to tend to the needs of these tiny humans.
The list of hurts a mom is faced with managing is long. There are bees and nighttime terrors that coincide with an overwhelming need for sleep or just to be alone with my own thoughts. There are skinned knees and, worse, the pains that you can’t see, that you can’t measure because they are invisible and indeed so much more insidious. Heartbreaks, stomach aches, late night fears that keep you awake wondering if you’ve made a huge mistake. Sure I try my best, even in the tired moments, but it seldom feels adequate. And there are no real breaks.
There are good times, to be sure. They are frequently more plentiful than the trying times. There’s laughter and joy. And there are mundane, average Tuesdays where everyone just floats along, lunches get made in peace and dogs sleep quietly and dishes get put away without nagging. There are moments that reach in and grab your soul because you could just burst with pride and elation over the beautiful human being you contributed to creating and raising. Sometimes I feel as though my heart will break with delight because I see in my daughters a reflection of the parts of me that are decent and pure. And the special bond we get because of what we have been through together. The pains and triumphs that are ours alone to understand, glue us tightly together.
But the real kick you in the teeth pain bee sting in your ear slap in the face of Mother’s Day is that I thought it would be a partnership. This day is a reminder that I thought I was standing in one line, signing up for a specific class, agreeing to a particular arrangement, and I was not. Like so many women, in so many circumstances, we are left alone on the heavy end of the see saw. We stopped playing man to man defense, or even zone defense and realized the rest of the team had already left on the bus.
I admit, there is a village around my daughters and I. People who care for us in amazing and selfless ways, people without whom the ship would sink for sure. And that makes me more fortunate than some. It offers an advantage which I cannot fathom being without. Because even with help, it is the hardest challenge I have ever endured. Because in the deepest part of the night, when I am weary from the days and weeks, when one of my daughters comes to me with a broken heart and I reach deep down and try to find an answer that will satisfy her, will heal up her wound and at the same time allow me to go back to my own tumultuous mind. Because no one else can be there for that or can even really assure me that I’ve done the best I can. Because it is the loneliest job I will ever both love and doubt. For these reasons, I wish there was no yearly reminder that I am a mother.
It’s the loneliness that kills me. And the self doubt. It’s the quiet, though disgruntled, inner voice that suggests that the universe has made a terrible error in allowing me to be the sole caretaker for the minds, bodies and souls of these tremendous human beings. Most days, I feel like barely more than an adolescent myself. And the sheer irony that I’m managing all of this alone, is the cherry on top of a macabre sundae. Just because I planned on doing this as a team is not a way out.
As always, I’m thankful for the little things, the little victories, and the big support we get from our community. I’m thankful for inside jokes and love notes, and unsolicited thank yous. I thankful for an understanding partner who walks home in the early morning hours to make room for sleepy interlopers. I am thankful to friends who send lovely supportive words. But mostly, I am thankful that tomorrow there are 364 days until Mother’s Day.


Why I am not afraid of lightening: A tribute to my mom

Why I am not afraid of lightening:  A tribute to my mom

During hurricane Hugo, my Mom and I lived in Rock Hill, SC. My Dad had taken a job at the newly opened Governor’s School for Science and Math in Hartsville, SC. There were terrific storms all throughout South Carolina, tornados and high winds even into the mountains and foothills. But as we climbed into bed that night we had no idea that would be the case.
I was 17 years old at the time, and must have been pretty terrified, because my mom let me sleep in the bed with her. She was already asleep, while I watched with horror when the newscast faded to static as the Charleston affiliate lost it’s connection. My mom slept quietly as I listened to branches crashing against the window and the wind and rain howling outside.
My mom had brought a kitchen timer into the bedroom and set it one hour at a time, so that if the power went out she would still get up for work. This should tell you at least two things about my Mom, she did NOT miss work ( not if she was sick, and not if a hurricane came through town) and she was clever. No power, no problem.
We made it through the night, we did lose power, for a week, and water for several days as well. There was no work the next day or the next as our neighborhood was completely blocked in by fallen trees. But if at any time my Mom was scared, she never let on.
Several years before, during a much different storm, I remember my mom sitting beside me looking up at the striking lightening with a look of sheer wonder and delight. I was terrified of the lightening as it popped right over head. My mom assured me we were fine, encouraged me to enjoy the electricity and to relax, because storms that strong could never last long. It was too difficult to sustain that kind of chaos.
That advice not only led me to enjoy the storms that nature has shared with me over the years, but to be reassured that the storms that life brings will not last. Chaos can’t last. So I just set my timer one hour at the time and get up in the morning, survey the damage and clear out the debris.
Thank you Mom, for all the things you have taught me, to be independent, to be the life of the party, to be honest, to be responsible, to never give up, to be a good writer, a good friend and an incredible mom and of course, to weather the storms. I love you.

Spoiler alert: you own your joy

Spoiler alert: you own your joy

Well, I had a relatively quiet couple of months. The butterflies have launched, the play has closed and I’m back to managing three-ish jobs with moderate success. And then blam-o, the calendar reminds me that Mother’s Day is upon us with Father’s Day close behind.
Mother’s Day is the parenting equivalent of Valentines Day. Moms need and deserve a day. We (all) bust our butts for a reward that is a long time coming, if it comes at all. These days, with single moms being held responsible for a plethora of social ills, from lashing out in school to rioting, it’s hard to keep your head up. And my day to day, is still, well, embarrassing. I spend uncountable hours performing glamorous tasks like, cleaning up dog feces and looking for lost shoes and pieces of paper. Added to the mix is my own second (er, third) adolescence. I made toast this morning and felt pretty proud of myself. This month all the bills were paid basically on time, I only forgot one RSVP and I kept up with the various other appointments, well mostly. I made attempts to create quality time, to be patient, to be compassionate, to be quiet. I did my best, with varying results.
My point being, Mother’s Day can feel like an F-U. It can be the grim remembrance of who you are not, or who you have lost. I’m lucky to have a mom, to be able to call her, to be able to send her a gift. And I’m fairly certain my mother is racked with guilt and feelings of inadequacy that no card or bouquet of flowers can ever repair. I know because now I get to live on the other side of that equation too. Then of course, there’s the folks that fall into the categories of having lost their mother, being estranged from their mother, or just having a complicated relationship with their mother. See, it’s valentines day for parenting.
Being a mom is simultaneously the most difficult and the most rewarding accomplishment of my life. So, Mother’s Day is our day dammit! Moms, we earned this day. Daughters and sons, you earned this day to honor or remember or even be thankful that you live across the country from your mom. But we each get to decide what this day means and how we want to honor, or ignore it. But it is a choice. Confidentially i have set aside some sad sacking time on Saturday explicitly for moaning and feeling sorry for myself, for lamenting the mom I cannot be on my own and the husband that left me to do just that. But then I have a new plan. I say, If you’re feeling left out of the holiday send someone flowers, anyone who cares for you without demand, send your daughter flowers, or the old lady at the convince store that always calls you, ” honey!” . Send a card to the secretary at church, buy lunch for the waitress. Mow the lawn of an elderly neighbor, buy yourself a latte and a cupcake, You can honor anyone you want and I guarantee you’ll make the day of whomever you gift with your thoughts, because that’s often what being a mother is about: caring for someone else, taking care of the village.

Mother’s Day, a true story

Mother’s Day, a true story

Captain’s log, Mother’s Day 2014

The crew agreed to a 9am wake up call this morning so I could receive the much deserved sleep I need. However at 6am I awoke to hushed (as well as not so hushed) screaming. And then sobbing and then a slammed door, which caused the dog to bark. I thought to myself, I should just get up, the sun is shinning after all. But I waited and everyone seemed to simmer down.
712am a return of the hushed screams, now drifting in from the kitchen, I hear dishes and smell cooking (or perhaps burning) butter. Nothing to worry about, I had pre-made coffee last night, all I have to do is turn it on.
740am I smell strawberries and the dog is incessantly licking her paw. How can licking be so loud? I’ll get up. After all, it’s also one of the crew members 14th birthday. I know there will be a window of happiness for a few minutes this morning, better get to it before that disappears.
742am breakfast arrives. Strawberry butterscotch pancakes (apparently the chocolate chips got eaten) mostly cooked into roundish blobs.
749am. The dog eats the pancakes when we walk over to open the big birthday present.
752am I go on a scavenger hunt around the house for hand painted boxes, lovingly written notes and the final gift, a gorgeous framed picture of my three girls.
802am we play a game of heads up and discover the headbands are a joke, so adjust.
814am heads up game falls apart.
822am I discover the dog has thrown up the pancakes he gobbled up. I clean up the throw up.
845am after discovering the reason the coffee was weak ( the girls had added a second pot of water, not realizing I had already put the water into the machine), I notice the kitchen. Perhaps a typhoon hit? I clean the kitchen.
925am the girls have paired off or closed themselves off and are only periodically shouting.
940am I climb under my covers, one dog snuggles up. The other licks loudly under the bed.
Oh captain, my captain…happy Mother’s Day.