I did not want to be a mother, pretty much up until the second I heard my sister’s voice say, “it’s a girl.” I did not want my daughter to be a mother, pretty much up until I got the late night text message from North Carolina one July that simply read, “9.5 lbs” and yet I am the daughter of a woman whose only “wish” or goal really in life was to have a husband and children. None of what my life is now was part of my “plan,” and yet when I think about my past and my dreams, and how much goodness is in my life today, it’s sort of funny that THIS was not at all what I wished for, but how glad I am it’s what I got…On days when I quietly reflect on what has worked out well for me, and how dearly I love my daughter and her daughters, and how profoundly their love has changed me for the better, I can “see” it…how a woman might dream of being a mother and having a family…this much love, given and received, well really it’s almost impossible to comprehend sometimes, that we can possibly have THAT much love inside of us. To be honest, some days I feel so loved by those granddaughters of mine that I do shake my head in disbelief, that I can’t possibly deserve this much joy, this pure and perfect goodness, and in such unbelievably unconditional unyielding abundance…that I did not want to be a mother, and by choices & circumstances became one, forcing me to grow right where I was planted, when I all I dreamed of was flying away, far-far away…and that I did not want my own daughter to be a young mother, but by her choices & determination to fly away, far-far away, she did become one, interestingly turned out to be some of the very best things about my life. Like Sheryl Crow says, It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got It’s funny, life.
…SO, here we are, a week before Mother’s Day and I am thinking about mothers, and babies, and daughters, and choices, all because I tried to find cards the other day at Walgreen’s for my mom and my daughter, and as usual, nothing seemed at all like anything I would say to either of them…You can get unmarried and you can get unemployed and you can get uncoupled, and you can get un-housed, but you can’t get un-mothered, ever. After you become one, you are a mother before you’re anything else. It’s a title that once you accept, you can’t change your mind. You can quite easily rid yourself of disappointing boyfriends, lazy husbands, quit unfulfilling jobs with rude misogynist bosses, you can trade in cars, you can sell your house with the ugly carpet or move to another condo with better lighting…all these big choices in life; who to love, where to live, what kind of job to have, are actually all things that you can change pretty quickly if you so choose…but when you become a mother, well, whether it’s really what you wanted or not, becomes irrelevant, TAG! You’re IT!!!
The tasks you have to perform, the sacrifices you have to make, the obligations you must uphold when you become a mother do not ever end. You feel a responsibility to this person for the rest of the days that you breathe on this earth. AND I’m here to tell you, there’s something else…even after this person is a mother herself, your feelings of responsibility don’t change, your want for her happiness does not change. You discover, through your journey as a mother, that the joy and the peace and the contentment of your child is far more important than your own and it never changes, that unbelievably unconditional unyielding want for what is best for somebody else. A friend wrote to me once that her favorite quote about motherhood is something about how you now live with your heart outside of your body, once you have a child. It seems spot-on.
So, that is how this ends I guess, this dreary week before Mother’s Day, in the gratitude I have for my own mother…A woman who has always wanted nothing for me but joy, and peace, and contentment, who always put my wants and needs before her own, and her unbelievably unconditional unyielding love for me. The gratitude I have for the relationship my daughter and I have cultivated, and my hope that she feels the unbelievably unconditional unyielding love that I have for her, and her children…they don’t make cards that say this, but I feel like they’re the only words worth saying…