Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. Another year I searched for a photograph of my mama to post on social media that the world hadn’t seen before. I found one of her in her housecoat, standing in the kitchen, looking like she just woke up, looking like she was making biscuits. I remember her that way, bleary-eyed and looking for her glasses, squinting at whatever she was trying to see, sipping a cup of coffee, and getting ready for the day. Her biscuits were delicious, by the way.
That got me thinking about how my son might remember me.
Will he forgive me my weaknesses as I forgive hers?
Will he remember the after school snacks, the special hamburger patties with the chia seeds hidden in them, the way I melted popsicles and poured them into molds and refroze them so I could sneak vitamins in? Or will he remember my constant urging to use the appropriate utensil when eating instead of his hands or my complaining about cleaning food off of the floor when he throws it? Will he remember the way I gave in and sometimes let him sleep in my bed when H. was away because I just wanted to hold onto the few moments that it was still halfway appropriate? Because I just wanted to listen to him breathe and be with him without having to constantly do? Because it comforted me to see him be peaceful for a few hours? Or will he remember when I gave in because I was too tired to lead him back to his own bed for the fifth time in a night but would’ve much preferred the bed to myself? Will he remember how patient I was with him? Will he remember that I used up most of my patience on him and had to work really hard to have any with the rest of the world? Will he remember when I absolutely lost my shit because he stuck his popsicle in my coffee cup or when he poured the water from the vase of flowers on the floor so he could slap his foot in it? Will he remember my habit of blue streak cursing and my near constant stress? Will he remember how mad it made me when he soaked the bathroom walls and floor every night at bathtime because he loved splashing in the tub so much but that I let him do it anyway and mopped it all up, time after time, day after day, sometimes two or three times a day? Will he remember my tears? Will he remember my hugs and kisses? Will he remember how I advocated for him, how I cheered him on, and how I fought so hard through my own emotional quagmire to try to figure out Who. He. Is? And how to honor that? Or will he remember my annoying habits, my nagging, and my exhaustion?
Will he remember my love?
You don’t get a halo and wings when you give birth. You’re the same person after as you were before, no matter how it changes you. Some things seem to come naturally with the miracle of becoming a mother — the ability to discern a hungry cry from a sad or angry one, the instinct to protect — but we don’t seamlessly become beings who always know what to do or how to handle everything correctly. Every human being walking on the planet is a testament to the failure and success of a parent in some way. We can’t blame everything on them, good or bad, there is personal responsibility, growth and maturity, and sometimes an outright miraculous distancing from anything unhealthy, but we can trace a lot of our flying and falling back to childhood. I digress…
The thing is, what I remember most about my mama was the way she loved me. She didn’t execute her intentions to bestow it on me perfectly, but that’s okay. I know that I fall short as a mama every day too, but I hope that I’m raising a child who will know that I tried, and who will forgive me for my imperfections, as I was taught to do. I think mothers show us, above all, how to be in the world. Wow, is it ever a hard job. It requires constant holding on and letting go, and whether or not we have wings, that is the dance of the angels.
Peace, love, and happy Wednesday.
PS – I’d like to make a recommendation this week: Listen to Mary Susan McConnell’s MAMA BEAR PODCAST. I’ll be a guest sometime soon and I’m super excited about that, but you should listen anyway. McConnell is a badass mama and smart as a whip.