I was looking at the kind and genuine Mother's Day wishes that friends were sharing on Facebook, but I was also noticing how many people were posting pictures of their mom's who had passed away. How this day for them brings pain with it: pain from all the memories of love. Someone explained to me that the physical pressure you have in your heart from losing someone you love is that person now living inside your heart. That you can now feel them inside of you.
But that pain of missing someone who was there for you is easier to feel than the pain from someone who wasn't there. The child who wonders why their mother was so impatient or angry or wasn't giving them the love and support they felt they needed. Again, I've touched on this theme many times before: motherhood is the most demanding of jobs. It is a full-time position of constant needs. It takes the strength of Hercules as well as tremendous patience and wisdom. Wisdom we don't always have until later. There is no guide book. We all learn as we go trying to do our very best. I always thought because of my natural passion for homemaking that I would be the ultimate mother. It was something I always wanted to do. I hadn't counted on the sleepless nights or the ache and worry when your child is sick. I constantly have to remind myself to be PRESENT with my girls. To truly listen to them instead of get caught up in my hobbies and interests. To look them in the eyes and really listen to them. And then the joy comes from delighting in their interests and their happiness instead of just kind of nodding through as you try to clean up the house or check things off the "to do" list. A friend said you never really understand how hard motherhood was for your mother or truly appreciate your mother until you become a mother yourself and then finally understand the full scope of the job.
I remember the day Melissa Madeline was born. I remember when we took her home from the hospital and I remember looking at Jason with more love that you can ever possibly feel for someone because he had given me this child I loved beyond any emotion I had ever felt in my life. It was the deepest form of love I could ever have for both him and for her. I felt my world would end if anything ever happened to that precious child. I worried about her each breath and checked on her all night. When Katherine was born again I felt the same immense love. But now I had two babies and looked at Jason begging for help. How could I care for both of them. The love was so immense I felt like I would burst. And then the hard times came and those are the things that chip away at the marriage. The demands of the outside world that make things so hard on all of us. How could we start with such a perfect love of this child and then get divorced. How was that love for our children not strong enough to hold us together?
On this day I I also think of my friends (sadly too many to count) who have struggled for years with infertility. I especially think of one friend who finally got pregnant after years and years of trying then had to suffer the baby dying. The worst pain of all is to lose a child. And on Mother's Day I think of those dear friends who have suffered this worst of losses and pains.
For me I have a huge mixture of emotions on Mother's Day. As long as my grandmother is alive (she will be 91 this June) the day is basically about her. It isn't about my mom or the young mom's. It is about all of us going to visit Granny. For some reason Mother's Day has always been a lot of work in our family. Yet another party for my mom, my sister, my sister-in-law and my aunt to rally around and cook for. If you remember my toast from my sister's 40th about "being raised to believe that it was our "job" to be there. To be the hosts and caregivers and comforters and celebrators. To let others know they matter." So Mother's Day is not an exemption from that job. However, about 7 or 8 years ago my sister came up with a BRILLIANT plan. She decided that since Mother's Day is a day of work for us that we should celebrate Mother's Day the Wednesday AFTER Mother's Day by going to the Ojai Spa. We could each truly relax and be pampered and not work or care for anyone but ourselves for those few hours we could be at the spa. So I highly recommend to any of you to lower your expectations for the actual day of Mother's Day and do something for yourself in the week afterward: a massage, a pedicure, a movie, alone time with a book...whatever fills you up and nourishes you so you can restore your strength to be there for others.
So as I think of this day and all that it means. I celebrate the women who never had children but who have been the best aunts and friends and support systems for others. Those women have often had an enormous impact on the world. On this day I celebrate the friendship we all have for each other as we help each other along this bumpy twisting road of life. I think with gratitude of all the lessons I've learned. The lessons I learned from being a mother. The lessons I learned from being a daughter. The lessons I've learned from the friends I've had and all of their experiences.
And just as I'm writing these last words Melissa Madeline is waking up. She looked from under the covers and said "Happy Mother's Day." Last week Melissa Madeline made fun of me jokingly and truthfully saying "this is the house of JOY." And now in this morning she reminds me with her sweet smile that no matter the pains and sufferings in life: JOY exists.