I don’t have a relationship with my mother, but I am a very proud mother to two boys of my own. Before they came along, I often enjoyed playing “mother” to others who crossed my path – whether it was a shy resident coming to terms with his identity (I was a residential adviser in college) or a week-old kitten with a broken back found in my yard.
My own parenting now ranges from Mary “Pinterest” Poppins to Miss “Little Girls” Hannigan depending on the hour, and I often feel quite clueless as to just what exactly it is I’m doing. In the beginning, I thought it was just me. I was somehow at fault or inept every time something happened. He has a head-to-toe rash? Why didn’t I think about our family’s penicillin issues?! He’s not talking? I haven’t talked to him enough! He fell down and hit his head? I wasn’t paying close enough attention.
Other moms couldn’t possibly feel the same way. Look at them with their auto-open doors on the minivan, cute diaper bags, and travel cups! They look so pulled together, and I’m a hot mess. I felt as though I couldn’t even speak to them, as though they were out of my league.
But before I knew it they were talking to me! They were telling me about their kid pooping in their hand! They filled me in on the sad state of their boobs! They told me about just how long it had been since they cleaned the house, that they forgot their daughter’s physical, that they put their keys in the freezer too!! I. Was. Thrilled. Here I was thinking I was some kind of circus sideshow, when, in fact, I was part of a whole tribe of wonderful women. I soon started finding these women everywhere, and I’ve watched in amazement…
The mom who rolls up in her mini to drop her child off for school still wearing her bathrobe because she hasn’t slept in days.
The mom who has a new baby in the house learning to juggle two little ones — one doesn’t sleep well, the other has disabilities and a litany of appointments.
The mom who holds a baby in her arms, two more in her heart, and manages a full classroom each day.
The mom who crosses her fingers, paces circles, watches the ceiling fan spin at night while waiting for test results – whatever test it may be this time.
The mom who sits frustrated trying to turn left from the school so she can get to work on time.
The mom who watches and helps as her grandchildren begin the cycle again.
The mom who struggles with her health, wanting to be present with her family, but doesn’t have the energy.
The mom who’s carrying a full load in her belly, at work and at home wondering how she’s possibly going to do it.
The mom learning to care for her aging parents while trying to raise her children.
The mom who works multiple jobs, and is trying to adjust to teenagers.
The mom cleaning poop off the floor for the nine-hundredth time because her son will not keep his clothes on after she’s been cleaning bathrooms at work all day.
The mom who no longer has their child to hold.
The mom who no longer has their mother to turn to.
The mom who just needs a break from judgement, criticism and well-meaning advice.
The mom learning who she is and how she fits into the world.
Somehow, we’re all the same. Perhaps it’s something in our genetic coding, or maybe it’s something other worldly. Whatever it is, the switch has been flipped, and we’re connected. Many of us can simply look at each other, and know. I’ve seen this look often in doctors’ offices, grocery stores, and the zoo. Usually there’s at least one screaming child involved. Sometimes there aren’t even any kids. We’ve seen each other strutting our stuff at the grocery stuff child-free, bouncing our heads to the best of the 80s, sipping something not in a pouch, cart piled high with mac-and-cheese and nuggets of some form. We visually high five each other and keep on keeping on.
Today, on Mother’s Day, I’m sending all of you – whichever mom you are – a great big high five. You did it. You made it to Mother’s Day. Today is all about YOU. Celebrate your beautiful unique self. You are an amazing work of art deserving of self care and self love. Stand proudly in front of the full length mirror today, and embrace every part of yourself. Remember that you are someone’s daughter, someone’s mother. You are capable of not only giving life, but nurturing it as well. You have superhero powers like intuition and being able to pick your son’s cry out of the crowd at Chuck E. Cheese.
Sometimes it may seem no one sees you or hears you. Perhaps you feel alone or lonely. But today I want you know that you most certainly are not alone. Today I want you to know you are seen. And you are heard. You are part of this very special, very big tribe past, present and future. You are made of star stuff. Shine that light and know.