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. I am thinking of you. I am holding you all.
PS: I wrote the above paragraph a few years ago and posted it on my social media. It came floating back into my mind this afternoon and decided to share it here. Sending an extra shot of love to those of you whose hearts are hurting this weekend.
Thank you, Cheryl. So appreciate you writing these words. Mother's Day is so complicated for so many. Sadly, my mom was killed tragically in a hotel fire when she was only 56 (and I was 22) and her mother fell down a flight of stairs, and died at 52. My heart goes out to those who lost moms when they were far too young and far too old. My heart goes out to those who bore the most tragic loss of all, losing a child. My heart goes out to those who desperately wanted their own children, but were unable. My heart goes out to those who suffered challenging relationships with their mothers or never sadly never received love from them. I could go on.....but filled with gratitude for you and the space you create for all of us.
What I most love about this...is it shifted me from my mother (who was wise & wonderful & I lost a year ago).... to my daughter. These lines above are asking me "which of these phrases resonate for my 25 yr old daughter today?" "Which of them will resonate for her when I'm gone?" This is here and now ....and there's so much power for me in that.
The beauty in your essay, Cheryl, is you've reminded me that all she needs from me is to love her fully, completely and unabashedly for who she is. Remembering she is not a reflection of me. She is a beautiful, once in a lifetime combination of contradictions fighting to emerge fully. All I need to do is realize she was gifted to me.... and the role I best serve is to see her fully as she is. Might I create a safe and loving landing spot for both her most vulnerable AND bravest moments? It's really about love - and the privilege of walking this path with her. The challenge of knowing when to speak and when to listen, I think, and that is so much easier said than done.
On this Mother's day...I'll reflect on my own mother but what really jumped out at me is..."Who can/will I choose to be as a mother myself?"