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Saturday, May 11, 2013

it wasn't always a happy mother's day

I'm feeling a bit Debbie Downer as I write this post.  Really, it's not about you.  It's about me.  

Mother's Day from about 1994 to 1998 was one of the saddest days for me.  We were deep in the bowels of infertility and every day felt like a stab to my heart.  A heart that longed with infinity for infinity numbers of babies.  I remember literally weeping in the back pew of First Presbyterian Church in Wichita Falls, Texas, unable to hide my pain.  

It's a period of my life that I would love to forget.  To cover over.  To ignore.  Birth announcements arriving often from precious friends who had been married for a far shorter time than my sweet husband and me.  Jealous, angry tears and a general sense of the unfairness of life plaguing my soul.  I wasn't who I wanted to be to my pregnant friends.  I was envious.  I was really sad.  I was bereft. 

I didn't think I would ever have children and I knew I wouldn't bear them in my body.  It is still hard for me to see the swollen belly of strangers and not feel a piercing stab to my heart. 

Fast forward to February of 1998, and a picture of a 5 month old Chinese orphan who is being fast-tracked to our family.  Bliss.  And again in 2002, this time a chubby cheeked 10 month old.  And really, a third?  Our sweet boy with just as chubby cheeks and superpower fleeing skills with his chubby legs.  I am blessed.

And yes, the pain was worth it.  Infertility was a part of my labor, I think.  And yes, I wouldn't change a thing.  And yes, it still hurts. 

So I'm sending out this Mother's Day prayer to those who are longing.  This world is full of babies who need mamas.  I pray that the two of you find each other.  

And tomorrow morning this PW (pastor's wife, silly) will be sitting in the front row, scolding sisters for stirring up their brother and smoothing down Asian hair that grows straight out from its roots and smiling.  

"You didn't grow under my heart, but in it."


she's a good mother

Married at the ripe age of 19.  Baby almost right away (it was me, though, so I know it was all bliss!).  Ten family moves from my birth to age 17.  My mama stayed in school and got her degree and promptly set to work on the hardest job, raising 3 bouncing babies while Daddy worked it.  He was promoted and transferred and climbing the corporate ladder and she held it all together.  

She must have questioned each move.  She must have felt lonely and depressed and desperately needed time away.  I never knew it.  She made a new city our home from the beginning.  We set down roots.  We found a church and we saw the sights and we glued together.  

She grew up in the south with deep tradition and love, and she married a country boy and figured out how to muck out stalls and handle horses.  She started her own business (with a jigsaw!) to help pay for a fabulous wardrobe for her budding fashionista.  She helped to found an outreach for women who had recently moved, turning difficult transitions into blessing. My mama brought warmth and sunshine to Greenville, South Carolina; and Lincoln, Nebraska; and Sarasota, Florida; and Scottsdale, Arizona.   

She didn't try to build a perfect marriage or raise perfect kids (well, most of the time).  She fought hard to stay together.  She leaned in to mothering.  She kept her standards high and her arms open.  She didn't let the sun settle on anger.  She wiped tears from a teenage girl's broken heart, time after time.  She was home almost when I got home from school, and she sat at the kitchen table with me and told me I could learn algebra and that boy wasn't worth my time and for goodness' sake could I clean my room.  

What I love the most about my mama is that she chose to be a mother.  She could have done a million other things.  She's talented and beautiful and smart and sought after.  She picked us.  She came to our games and she sent care packages in college and she still plans Camp Mimi and Poppy for her grandchildren--there is space in her life for her babies.   I didn't really get what that means to me until I was 40.  Or until I had 3 kids.  

And also, what I love the most about my mama is that she is real.  She is grounded and sharp witted and sometimes sharp tongued (I come by it honestly) and she is solid in her love and faith and belief in me.  My mama loves her children.  She loves us when we succeed, but what matters more is that she stretches her heart out wide when we fail and scoops us up and urges us on and holds our feet to the fire and always, always, always her love abides.  

I love her smile (I came by that honestly too!).  I love her laugh that you can hear a mile away.  I love that she can whistle with her fingers and call a whole neighborhood in to dinner.  I love that she loves my daddy  with a fierce and unyielding strength.  I love that she loves my brown skinned, almond eyed, children and takes them as her own.  I love that her eyes light up with joy when she sees me.  I love that she remembers the smell of my baby head resting on her shoulder and that she's seen me at my worst, at the lowest of lows not knowing if I would get to one day be a mother, and that she lifted me up.  

She's a good mother.  

"I've got a good mother, 
and her voice is what keeps me here.

Feet on ground,
Heart in hand,
Facing forward,
Be yourself. "
from "She's a Good Mother" by Jann Arden