Mother's Day: It can be a real Mother.
A few years back, I wrote this post on Facebook for Mother's Day:
"I live in the hood. Motherhood. My street cred comes from pushing a BOB. My colors are typically pink. When I am under the influence, it is from amazing women who have come into my life to help guide me. My flow is singing Fresh Beat Band songs. My blow is always followed by “out” and I assure you it has nothing to do with a salon. My cheddar comes from clipping coupons and buying Groupons.... If I am going to bounce, it involves a jumper house. I live for Motherhood. There is not a single experience in my life that has more of an impact or made me a better person than becoming a mother. It is a gift I treasure, an adventure like no other and something I wouldn’t change for all the money in the world. (Even though she just painted all over my end table with nail polish)
Happy Mother’s Day to all who are lucky enough to have a Mother, be a Mother or know a Mother. Enjoy."
I often go back in my mind to this, because at my most frustrating moments of being a parent, that thought gets me centered. Becoming a Mother changed me in ways I can't even comprehend completely. Sadly, I think becoming a Mother contributed to the end of my first marriage- but being a Mother 150% saved me from being a complete fuck up during the most traumatic time of my life. One of the reasons I left my marriage because I didn't want to be alone in parenting- and ironically, you end up alone, parenting. That being said, being with Maddie 90% of the time truly helped me realize who I was supposed to be. It was challenging, hard, frustrating and still exactly what I needed. Due to my choices, my support system was fragmented at best. This left me to depend on this little babe as much as she depended on me. In times of trial and tribulation it's very easy to avoid looking inward, but knowing I was in charge of how this girl was to grow was enough for me to realize I had to keep my shit together.
Life skills going into this time period could be described as "limited" at best. Keeping a home, finances, balance, work- my immaturity had to be very apparent to most (and probably kept many entertained as a source of gossip). My grandma, who wonderfully took us in (before moving into our apartment) when I made the big leap, was a juxtaposition of frustration and dependability. Mother's often aren't just the one's who give birth to you, you see. My legendary grandma took in a 30 year old with a toddler without question. Don't be fooled- she wasn't a softie nor did I get away with much of anything. She picked small fights with me often. Looking back I believe it was because she could see my emotional cup was running over and I needed to spill something just to keep from bursting. Often, much more than why I parked my car on the left side of the driveway came out- and I needed it to. I remember yelling at her. (Yes, I the ahole, yelled at my 85+ year old grandmother who was offering free boarding to myself and child. Yes, I know, I am going to hell.) After getting it all out, I also remember her not being angry with me. I think the Mother in her could recognize the level of defeat and pain I was swallowing. Often, I felt like the only one I had in my life was a two year old and people had no problem sharing with me how I was messing up her life by leaving her dad. My grandma was there though- no matter how upset I made her. I needed her like a sick child needs their mother. Her being the tough as nails chick she was, she didn't let me wallow in it. She expected me to be a Mother and so did Maddie. You don't get to take a sick day from being a parent. She lead me down the path I wanted to go and I am so grateful she saw my course and wanted to get me to the finish line.
I grew. Partly because my child needed me, partly because it was time. When we moved, Maddie got sick and life changed for the worse for awhile. She didn't sleep- so I didn't sleep. When I say she didn't sleep- I mean like a newborn doesn't sleep. There actually aren't words for how hard it was. "She must be reacting to the divorce," is something I heard several hundred sickening times. No- she had sleep apnea from her tonsils basically touching and her adenoids being humongous. After surgery and some follow up- her hearing issues were discovered. In these moments, I had no choice- I was a Mother. I couldn't blame anyone, I couldn't wallow in the superficial idea of her wearing hearing aids and being made fun of- I had to suck it up. It was the card she was dealt- and frankly, Maddiebadger didn't give a shit (So why should I??).
I had a moment last week where I realized how far Maddie had come- and truly how far I had as well. An IEP is an Individual Education Plan for children who need extra help due to a variety of factors. Maddie has these due to her hearing issues. Her first session to develop this, I sat with the pathologist as she went through what she thought should be Maddie's goals as Maddie played with toys on the floor. As she listed them off I was taking deep breaths as my mind and heart were reacting. At two, none of them seemed attainable. One of the goals was for her to put in her earrings (hearing aids) by herself- to which I laughed at. She couldn't even pee on the toilet but putting in tiny hearing aids by herself? Suuuuure. But, at her IEP a few weeks ago, we checked this off of her list. A full circle. Holy shit. I take zero credit for this- it's completely on her teachers who have encouraged and helped her through her weekly sessions and her own determination- but, shit, my kid did it! I didn't raise a completely inept human! Motherhood. #winning
Being a mom is about accepting help. Even a single parent - if you cannot accept help, then you are doing your child a disservice. As time went on, I got married again, my support system became solid rather than fragmented and I was the Mother I wanted to be when I started this journey. My husband, my in-laws, my family, my friends- I simply could not be that person without the people who take me at my worst and continue to love and support me anyway and that includes my children. When I became pregnant again, the typical questions went through my head. "Will I love her as much as the first? Will she be as cute? How will I balance my devotion for one to two?" The moment Vivi came into our lives, all of those stupid adjustment hesitations went away. Life truly is a dance- you either are the person who sits and watches everyone else out of fear of looking stupid- or you are the person who jumps in, leads the conga line and tries to pull in the hesitant participant. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
This Mother's Day- I wished a Happy Mother's Day to someone who is now playing a mother role to my daughter. There was a time I thought I could never stomach this. Love is a funny thing though. My ex-husband's fiancée plays a role in Maddie's life that is important and I hope recognized by others. While at times I am jealous of not being Maddie's one and only "Mom" I also recognize that is by my choice, not hers. What a lucky girl to be loved by two mamas. I am confident in the mother that this woman wants to be to my child and appreciate the respect she provides to the relationship I have with Maddie. It challenges me to be a better person which is a lesson I always want to learn.
This Mother's Day I ran into family of my own Mother. While I do not retain a relationship with my own Mother, I do enjoy the run ins and repairing of the relationship with my family. It's awkward often, but I look at my babies and think they are owed the kind of relationship with family that I had growing up. Right now I can't give that to them, but I continue to work at it. I do not feel impaired by not having a Mother in my life. I don't covet others relationships with their moms. I have been taken care of by many a mama and if anything, I have renewed commitment to my children because of it. My family comes first- above anything. A hard lesson, but something that I took something from and now have something to strive for.
This Mother's Day I celebrated with two babies. I celebrated surrounded and encompassed by love. I felt valued. I felt respected. I felt loved. Above anything- I felt like there are people out there that think I am a good mama- and that to me is the greatest compliment I can receive. I screw up, I say the wrong thing often and have been known to have an opinion or two. For people to love me anyway and see that Motherhood is what drives me- that is the goal for me.
This Mother's Day I enjoyed my day. I felt like I was doing something right. I felt like I can handle the hardships that come my way and fiercely protect my little ones while allowing them to experience life. I love their independence but revel in the way they need and want their mama. I am blessed to be able to be the person who makes their world ok. It's a superpower that every Mother has- you just choose if you want to engage it. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. It is not for those who cannot stand the hard times. It is not for those who will die of a broken heart (as Motherhood will break your heart time and again). It is for those who find your strength comes from understanding your weaknesses, for those who know that you can be the pillar while being the softy, for the ones who stay the course regardless of the path. Commitment, unwavering love, gumption, heart- these things are what it takes to be a Mother.
Being a Mother is a Mother. Happy Mother's Day to those everywhere who take the time to love a child unconditionally. Keep those superpowers engaged.