I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times, in life after life, in age after age forever.
Posts tagged ‘mothering’
“I told dad what you said about him,” my fifteen-year-old daughter said to me the other day. A stab of panic gripped my stomach. Had I said something derogatory? I knew I wouldn’t have, couldn’t have, especially to my daughter. But that irrational thought still crossed my mind and my heart. Maybe I had made a joke about him and she had taken me seriously? Maybe I was feeling some residual guilt from a time in my life when I was often careless and callous with my words about others. (It still happens, I’m no saint, but I work hard at being more aware of harsh words before they pass my lips.) She must have seen the worry on my face, because she quickly explained;
“I told him what you said about him being so good and kind and funny, and how you felt grateful to have him as your husband. When I told him what you said, mom, he smiled.” As she told me this, she smiled too. So did I.
It is so easy to tell our children how much we love and appreciate them. Through this conversation with my daughter I learned how important it is to tell them what we love and appreciate about others too, spoken from an easy and casual place of truth and sincerity. Out loud.
I think this may apply to how we speak to others too, not just to our children.
What do you think?
There is so much Divinity in the Everyday.
Quotes from birth mothers to their babies:
“My darling, my other self . . .”
“I touched your cheeks and nose.”
“You were like an angel who had come from heaven.”
I am a mother to five children. To three of them, I am not their only mother. They have birth mothers, and they have me. Today, as I write this on Mother’s Day, I can feel those birth mothers wondering about and remembering their children, our children. On each child’s birthday and on Mother’s Day I always stop to whisper a silent thank you to them, sending good thoughts to lift their spirits. I imagine these days must be as hard for them as they are joyful for me.
“I call your name quietly in my heart.”
“Know that your spirit is within my spirit.”
“From far away, I will pray for your happiness.”
In the beginning when my children were babies, fresh and new to the world, I often wondered if they carried the sadness of parting from their mothers, like a ship pulling away from the dock carries travelers from tearful families left on shore.
“It grieved me that I had to let you go.”
“You cried in a loud voice as if you knew your mother’s heart.”
As years pass, I imagine the expanse of ocean growing wider and wider between that metaphorical ship and that very real woman left standing on the shore, and I wonder if time ever lessens her pain.
“I love you from far away.”
I wonder if she ever stops searching the horizon, hoping to see a glimpse of that ship returning. I see her in my heart, the woman to whom I owe so much of my own happiness and I send her my prayers of love and strength.
“I cannot give up my wish to see you again.”
“Is it possible we will meet again?”
“I call your name quietly in my heart.”
After adopting our third child, a son from Korea, my friend (also a Korean adoptee ) gave me a book called “I wish for You a Beautiful Life,” by Sarah Dorrow. The book is filled with letters Korean birth mothers wrote to their little babies as they sent them sailing into the arms of joyful, ecstatic mothers like me. It is a wonderful book, heartbreaking and beautiful in turn.
“I want you to be a happy person, with a big smile.”
All the quotes included here are from those letters. They remind me of the great sacrifice each woman made for my happiness and for the happiness of her beloved child; and I never take that for granted. Never.
“I’ll pray that you meet the most wonderful parents.”
Happy Mother’s Day to each and every birth mother. So many of us owe you such a deep, deep gratitude. “Thank you” seems so feeble a phrase to encompass such an enormous feeling in my heart.
“Dear adoptive parents . . . Please lead my baby to be a righteous and happy person. . . Please love my baby.”
Yes. I promise. I will. I do. Thank you. I wish for you a beautiful life too.
Mammaste~There is so much divinity in the everyday.
There is a sweet little drawing of a smiling face scribbled on the wall next to my bed. The artist is my youngest child when she was about three years old. At the time I calmly told her that walls are not for drawing, and then complimented her on her artwork. I left her original graffiti there on my wall because it is beautiful, and because it reminds me of the lessons I’ve learned since being a new mother of one child, to a seasoned mother of five children–a span of 19 years between the oldest and youngest.
When my oldest daughter first drew on a wall, first cut her own hair, first filled the toilet with non-toilet items, first lied to me, I did not yet know that all children do these things (or some facsimile). I did not realize then, as I do now, it’s part of growing up; of curiosity, testing, exploring, imitating or avoiding. I was harder on her because I was young and didn’t know better. Her actions were not personal, but in my own immaturity as a parent I perceived them as direct affronts. I would overreact and make a big deal out of ‘bad’ behavior by shaming or lecturing her at length for what I perceived as big infractions. By the second, third, fourth and now fifth child I know better as a mother. I don’t claim to know best, it’s just that I know better the mother I choose to be.
As I sat on the edge of my bed looking at the smiling graffiti, I was thinking how much I wished I could change the parent I sometimes was to my oldest child. Then the phone rang and there she was, on the other end of the line.
I shared with her all I had been thinking about. I told her I was sorry that when I was raising her I wasn’t as calm or as mature or as wise as I am now. I told her I wished I could talk to the mother I was then and tell myself all that I have learned so I could do better. I apologized. She laughed and acknowledged having to “pave the way” for her siblings and she told me I was forgiven. In turn she apologized to me for her teen years. We laughed together about pay-back. I loved her for the grace of absolution she blessed me with so easily.
I can’t go back in time and give myself the wisdom of mothering that I have now, but I can share it with you. (Lucky you!)
First: It’s not always about us. Our children are growing, stretching, testing. We can love, guide, offer reasonable consequences and did I mention; love, love, love them? But there is no need to bully, shame or just generally freak-out. Second: If we do freak-out or overreact (because we all do) it’s okay to forgive ourselves and do better when we know better. Third: It’s less okay when we know better, and we don’t do better. That’s when we rationalize, make excuses for ourselves or place the blame on our children for how we choose to react. We’ve all been there, let’s just choose not to live there.
And lastly: There is great courage and love in risking vulnerability and humility. There is no shame in admitting fault. Fallibility is an inherent quality of the human condition, especially in parenting. Instead of defending our less flattering behavior to suit our need to see ourselves in a better light, admitting our mistakes as parents is important in validating what our children experience, of honoring their truth.
A close friend said to me after I told her this story, “Do you know how many adults would love to hear; ‘I’m sorry,’ from a parent? It would heal so much for them.”
Wise words from another seasoned mother.
There is so much divinity in the everyday.
And then she told me her story. She told me about preparing for the very real possibility of her death as she fought Cancer. Of meeting a man at a laundromat where she had to use the cart to steady her frail and weak body. He asked her to coffee. Later, she explained to him her dire situation and the futility of new beginnings in the face of a life ending. He told her it was not the end. He told her she would live and they would marry and have a daughter. Against all odds, he was right.
When my oldest was about four, she was trailing behind me into the bathroom when I turned to her and said, “Honey, could you give mommy a little privacy while I take a shower?” To my surprise she replied, “Sure!” and left.
As I stepped into the shower, I could hear her rummaging in the hall closet. Soon she returned, yanked back the shower curtain and announced, “Mom, I looked everywhere for your privacy, but I can’t find it. I don’t know what it looks like.”
As every mother knows, truer words were never spoken.
There is so much divinity in the everyday.
I like to imagine that during the short interval of days between her death and my son’s birth on the day of her funeral, they met each other in that mysterious place in-between this life and the next. I envision them together, with heads bent, foreheads touching, sharing the secret of the amazing gift that awaited me with his impending birth.
It is the one book on parenting I feel absolutely confident in recommending. It’s short, concise, relevant, spiritual and practical. A good parenting book, like this one, appears to be teaching us how to raise loving, balanced, well-rounded and grounded children but in essence it is teaching us to learn from our children how to become loving, balanced, well-rounded and grounded adults.
Dear people next door, Welcome to Minnesota. Please write your name here ___ then please send back the card, but before you do that, please write back. You can write whatever you want. From your neighbor Harper and Family. (It included a nice picture of flowers and clouds.)