Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Hmmmm, where to begin? Mother's Day has become so interesting for me in the last couple of years. When we were first starting our family, I really was thrilled for Mothers Day to arrive as it offered me a day of rest ( and a few accolades for sacrificial jobs and a whole lot of grunt work.) Who doesn't like hand written cards, flowers, chocolates and a few little gifties? 

As I have grown a bit older and seen so many of my mothering mistakes, I definitely have a different view on this day. I guess I realized at some point it's really my honor to be a Mother. I know it's a whole lot of work, but it is also really good work that has such a tremendous human value. I am really blessed to hold my children, and form my children, and love my children. 

Let me be brutally honest with you-my kids have really helped  to keep me from turning into a complete jerk. Before they existed I was so sure I was almost perfect, and wonderful, and brilliant, and just plain good. I had such a completely false sense of myself. It was, how can I say this nicely....pathetic.Thankfully, you really only need to be a Mom for a few hours to realize you are NOT who you thought you were. All the things you were so sure about suddenly get  turned  inside out  for the first time with honesty.

I would never have known I was so lacking in patience and kindness and self-control  ( and a million other virtues) unless I had children who challenged me in all those arenas. And guess what? I utterly failed most of the tests!The fact that I have so many children is proof to me of just how much work I really needed. My false self image was shattered and I was left to sit on my kitchen floor weeping and taking a good deep look inside myself. What I didn't get then but do now, was that day wasn't the end- it was the beginning. Knowledge is power and finally at about 23 years old  I knew who I was, and finally who I wasn't. Talk about taking a fearless moral inventory!

But it gets better then that. As the years rolled forward I learned to really put some effort into all those nasty traits in myself that I didn't like,and weren't so 'perfect' after all, in order to be better for my children. You see I always loved my kids, and always felt they deserved a really good Mom so I didn't mind making some changes and acknowledging some faults, if it would improve their lives even a little.

 I learned to be a little more patient ( still more work to go) and I learned to yell less ( still more work to go) and I learned to listen , (even when they weren't necessarily talking out loud) and I learned to hold my tongue sometimes too. I started actually taking a look into the buckets they brought to me filled with hermit crabs and salamanders, instead of insisting they not mess up the house. When they asked which was my favorite color I sat down with crayons to decide ( I always thought it was red, but now I lean so much towards yellow ). I sang silly songs and looked up the answers to questions I didn't know but wished I did. I tried to understand how they saw the world instead of simply telling them how I saw it. I finally realized that maybe I had more to learn from them, than they had to learn from me- even if I was older and bigger. They have taught me to laugh both at life and at myself.

Perhaps what I have learned best from my children is how intimately connected  love and forgiveness are. By loving me enough to forgive my shortcomings, they have helped me to want to keep growing and to keep being better for myself and them. They make it easier for me to look into the mirror and really love the person who looks back. And because they have shattered all those false illusions,they have made me real, and real is much more beautiful then I had ever imagined.  

So, while I still love great little gifts, I know the real gift is being a Mom. It has made me a better person and I am awfully grateful I've been given that chance. (Thank you Andrew, and Peter, and John-Paul, and Matthew, and Joseph, and Thomas, and Michael, and Mary, and Sarah, and Sophia!)

Lastly but not leastly- my darling Fred- whose love first made me a mother decided that the best gift he could give me for Mother's day was to finish my screened porch. I have been waiting all week to post these beautiful pictures of my new hide-out! It is just spectacular and everything I could ever have hoped for! Isn't he swell?

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