The Difficult Task of Mothering...
I had a lovely Mother’s Day. Which is not something I can say every year. Most years past are filled with disappointment, sadness, grief and feelings of deep despair. I am not sure all mothers feel this way on mother’s day, but I am sure I am not alone.
Nothing in life prepares you for motherhood. There are no classes in school, no books to read that can adequately describe and prepare you for what will happen to you as a woman the moment you find out you are pregnant. Nothing. The experience, while describable, is experientially almost unrelated. At least that is my experience.
Theoretical mothering was a piece of cake. I knew exactly how I was going to handle things, and I was going to do it with love and grace and without yelling. Actual mothering has turned out to be quite different. Like completely, utterly different.
And that is ok. I mean once you get over the shock...which, spoiler alert, you don’t ever get over the shock.
But yesterday was one of those victorious mother’s days. One where I didn’t stress about it, throw expectations (negative or positive) all over it. I just woke up with no real plans and allowed the day to unfold. And I was handsomely rewarded for my lack of planning and preparation, and expectations.
I did my usual routine: coffee, animal care, writing, mediation, yoga and hike. The hike was amazing, seven miles of wildflowers and communion with cows who seemed to be having their own issues with mothering yesterday. I walked in the misty dampness that will quickly vaporize in Ojai as the heat of summer will be shortly upon us. I wandered through the meadow and found such a lovely conversation with myself and God.
Then my daughter and a dear friend jumped in the Jeep, threw back the top and took off for parts unknown. We headed north because that is the only place I ever really want to get lost, East or North, never South. At least not from where I live.
The weather was crappy on the coast so we hugged the coastline but once we were sufficiently away, we headed east to sunnier locales. And we found them. We hike up a waterfall. Got cussed out by a seven year old. Happened upon a small farm that encouraged the petting of the goats, donkeys and pigs. The ducks and Llamas were not interested in any type of engagement with us whatsoever.
We came upon a field of Ostriches and Emus. Which felt quite random. And we indulged. And laughed. And thoroughly enjoyed our happenstance meeting with birds of a feather that were interesting, weird and beautiful in their own way. It was kind of like traveling across the country and seeing signs for the world's largest ball of string...I mean, you don't really care about such things, but when it is right there upon you, you feel compelled to go see it. So it was with ostriches.
We wandered around small towns that were mostly closed which was weird for a Sunday. We listened to music and sang songs. We ate healthy junk food while we drove and laughed and talked and just enjoyed our lives.
Last evening my daughter and I went to see a punk rock show in Ventura. It was packed and a good show. It was fun to see her listen to music that I used to listen to and glimpse into my past. We enjoyed ourselves and arrived home late and tired from a day well spent.
Mother’s Days have not always been so lovely. Expectations often ruin everything to include the whole mothering experience I would guess. To be clear, while mother’s days past have been unbearable, those pale in comparison to how hard mothering is on the daily.
I am honored to be a mom and I wouldn’t go back and change my decision to become a mother. I would go back and change a few things. Like I would have done trauma work earlier in my life had I known just how much my unhealed trauma would impact my kids. I would be more patient and kind. There is definitely a laundry list of things that I would change, mostly with my own behavior, but the decision to do this mothering thing, even badly at times, is not enough for me to ever think that I made a poor choice in becoming a mother in the first place.
Mothering is hard. But yesterday it was pleasant, enjoyable and honestly quite amazing. I did exactly what I wanted to do and felt loved and supported the whole day. I am so grateful.
So I guess mothering is like anything else in this life, if it is a worthwhile endeavor, it is going to demand things from you that you don’t currently possess which forces you to grow in ways that you didn’t know you needed to. And that work is going to be hard and difficult and, at times, painful. So while mothering is difficult and really an endless series of tasks that are never done, it is still the best, hardest thing I have ever had the privilege to do in my life.
I hope that all the mothers and those who stand in for mothers had a great day...my friend posted this quote by Cheryl Strayed and I think it captures the sentiment exactly:
There are so many kinds of mother. The mothers you cherish and celebrate. The mothers who were never really there. The mothers who broke you. Who built you. The mothers who cheered you on. Who chipped away at you until you were dust. The mothers who reveled in your astonishing intelligence and grace and power. Who saw only their own light. The mothers who died painfully young. The mothers who lived so long you felt yourself disintegrating with them. Petal by wilted petal. The mothers who shined. Who dimmed. Who did their best. Who disappointed. Who redeemed themselves. Who accepted your redemption. Who zigged and zagged. The mothers who were a beacon. The mothers you never knew. The mothers who sewed themselves into the quilt you became. The mothers who couldn’t bear to tell the truth. The mothers who were brave. The mothers who didn’t know who they were without you. Who never saw you no matter how wildly you waved. The mothers who grieved you. Who believed in you. The mothers you call. The mothers you no longer speak to. The mothers you take for granted. Or treasure. The dead mothers. The mothers you have to search for and carry. The mothers you find in people who are not your mother. The mothers like a limb. The mothers like a mirror. The mothers like a flame. The mothers you wish. The mothers you love. The mothers you ache. The mothers you echo. The mothers you aren’t. The mothers you wanted to be. The mothers you became.”