Yesterday I had a Mom Meltdown. You know how it goes: one random kid manages to push just the wrong random button and it was the wrong button to push for no apparent reason. Cue Mom Meltdown, which is just as ugly and devastating as a nuclear meltdown; the poison is all metaphorical, but still. And the thing is, it's not just the surrounding people who bear the damage, but the reactor, too. So I wandered through the rest of the afternoon feeling dejected and horrid and pathetic.
Then I had a chat with one of my Costco friends. (Yes, it's true: I go to Costco enough that I have friends who work there. I mean...I don't know her last name, but we talk like long-lost pals every time she gets me my food court order.) She wished me a happy mother's day and my eyes started leaking (and yes, another truth: I wore my sunglasses the whole time I was shopping for groceries so no one could see my red eyes) and we both said at the same time "I don't really like Mother's Day." Then I said, "I'm not sure anyone but the perfect mothers do" and we both laughed and I felt better.
This morning I woke up to an instant, clear thought: just celebrate your motherhood. Not because I am perfect at it—I am not. I have far too many nuclear reactor moments. My house is rarely picked up enough and I can't manage a dinner that makes everyone happy and there's almost never fresh baked cookies after school. Last week (yes, all five school days) everyone had to fish for their socks in the clean socks bucket instead of pulling them out of their drawers. My toilets need to be cleaned and I haven't taught any of my kids the habit of making their beds every day.
Actually, the list of my failures is too long to continue writing.
But I felt, with an astounding clarity, that the failures weren't the point. The successes, also, didn't matter. Instead, the prompting was simply: celebrate the fact of your motherhood. Be joyful that you were given children. Be certain that you are giving them strengths.
And so, all day, I have been thinking about that. Although I am often overwhelmed with those failures, and with feeling that I am doing far less than I am capable of, I don't want my children to think that I am not grateful to be their mom. In ways I almost don't have words for, along with stories I cannot blog about, I am grateful for my motherhood. Grateful for what it has taught me, to be sure: patience, and the boundless capabilities of love, and the sheer miraculous joy of being alive. But grateful, also, for what it has given me: these amazing children—these unique, individual people—with their strengths and personalities and dreams. I ache for them and rejoice with them and cherish them beyond everything else.
The path that brought me to motherhood was an unusual one. Things happened that created many changes in my heart. Had those hard choices not been made, I don't think I would have wanted to have children. The hard things happened in order to create that desire within me. Perhaps, had I not become a mother, I would have accomplished the other goals I had: living in a glamorous city with dozens of friends and a PhD on my bookshelf. You know—the bookshelf full of my novels. But now, knowing what I know—the sheer happiness of seeing one of them do something amazing, or that exhausted contentment when an illness finally passes, or the quiet peace of reading together—I couldn't give up what I have for any dream.
I wish I were better at it. I wish this because I want the best for them. Because I want them to never feel hurt or dejected or discouraged, especially because of me. Because I want them to stride forward into the world with certain knowledge: my mother loves me. I want that knowledge to be a strength to them. I want, more than anything, not to fail because I want them to be happy. They are the best part of my life.
I am blessed beyond belief to have become a mom, and that is what I celebrated in my heart today