Every year, my father sends me a flowering plant. He has a relationship with the florist in my town, and he calls and asks them to send me a "hardy" plant with flowers. He knows that I am a long time terror to plants everywhere. Puppies and babies, I'm good, but plants are a whole other story. The carcasses of potted plants litter my porch and kitchen table: the hibiscus I killed this winter, the hanging plant I forgot to water, the succulent made it a good 6 months, but winter took away the air moisture.
My father wants to help me fill my life with beauty. His wish for me is to have lasting beauty and joy, to remind me how much he loves me and honors my work as a mother all year long. He gets these plants for my mother, my godmothers, and for grandmothers when they were alive. He seeks to SHOW us that he loves us, thinks of us, and we are a part of God's beauty, celebrating the power to begin new life.
The card he sends with my flowers has never been signed from him. He signs it, "From the in-laws and the out-laws." He has always credited this annual gift from my entire family, both sides. I know that the ones he sends to my godmothers he signs from my brother & I and the lady's biological children.
Now that there are granddaughters, my father also sends a single flower to each of them on mother's day as well. It is admittedly a token, but none-the-less honors the woman they will each become. I think he assumes they will eventually be mothers only because is his world, life is simply not complete without the full circle of generations. His children have been his greatest treasure, and his greatest hope is that his children and grandchildren will know an equivalent joy. [We have a great story about the first one my daughter ever got. she shook it with joy so much, she lost all the petals within 3 minutes of receiving it. She proudly carried the stem all day!]
It is a small (and somewhat futile) token to send flowers/ plants - but I am so incredibly thankful EVERY time because I understand what he wishes to share.
This year, I did not have my children with me for mother's day. My work schedule is full, long and hectic (overnight camps/ trainings, staffing emergencies, sudden call-ins), so my children have gone to spend the spring with my folks. My mother gets my children for mother's day. This year they slept, because they went to a festival the day before, and my mother did not get to go out or have breakfast in bed served to her [quite frankly she would flip out if my kids made that kind of mess in her kitchen. We tried when we were little and she has never forgiven us for giving her Garlic Eggs]. I am confident that later this week, when my father feels she is rested enough, they will all go out for dinner. She told me she enjoyed working in the garden with the kids, teaching them, building memories with them, loving them.
I missed my kids. I was pretty sad all weekend about it - but I was also working. I put in 7 - 9 hours each day. I could not have spent it with them anyhow. And actually - we went out as a family a few weeks ago because we knew we couldn't go this year. Our little tradition is to go to a local winery and picnic. We have tried to go to a different winery every year so that my children can keep making their world bigger. [um - that's kinda my idea] Being apart from them made me realize just how much I love them, just how really cool they are, and what good memories we have. I am lucky that my folks are willing and able to keep my kids for a few weeks - but even luckier to have kids in the first place.
My mother-in-law is gravely ill. Mother's Day was also filled with worried texts and calls - keeping track of her very slow progress after 2 more strokes this month. My husband is preparing his heart, his mind, for the inevitable. His sisters live much closer than we do and are bearing the brunt of the distress, but being Aspie himself, he doesn't deal with change well and is having a hard time thinking of anything he can do to help the situation. While praying for my mother-in-law and my sisters-in-law, it drove home how fragile this balance between building memories and letting go is... Watching other moms on Mother's Day reminded me how much I already miss their infancy and toddler-hood. I can only imagine what my mother and mother-in-law feel, and I can only imagine what my sisters-in-law feel knowing such an important resource is going from them...
Seeing my husband deal with the changing relationship there has really made me think about how and why I love him, and how and why I love my son. I have realized that every time I look at my son, I see the curious toddler, the smiling infant. His mother must see the same of him [she has started calling our son by my husband's name because the strokes have taken away some memory]. I cannot see my husband that way. I have decided that a mother overlooks a son's adult behaviors because she always sees the boy within, and a wife overlooks the childish behaviors because she sees the man within.
My husband worked VERY hard to honor me despite my work schedule. We went for ice cream and a short walk in the woods. We remembered when we first met, and when the kids were born, and spoke about their personalities and futures. We just enjoyed each other and our memories, and looking forward to more memories.
And I was reminded that - being a mom is NEVER alone. Not just the "you will never pee by yourself alone again" kind of never alone - but also the "you can't do this by yourself" kind of never alone. When the kids were infants, super littles, there was such a sense of isolation, of overwhelming separation from the universe. I had a VERY VERY hard time. The Truth is that you kinda need it - no one can really help you figure out nursing, and you have to build that set of expectations about "normal" for your specific family, and you need create that dynamic of "safety" [what do you feel safe about them doing, what do you feel safe doing with them] from your solitary perspective. I am sure that society adds to that sense of isolation [with BS about public breast feeding and social guilt of parenting from information instead of the gut], but even Maria Montessori identified the way Nature builds a "bubble" around new moms to let them bond with babes.
The process of diagnosis for Autism has been a huge part of my Self Parable. It has been a cataclysmic event to Teach me what I needed to hear. The lesson I have ALWAYS shared (MY insight) is that I can not do this alone. I had to learn that I not only need others to help me be a mom, but both my children and I deserve that kind of help. It does take a village. I am pretty sure that it will take more than one village for us...
And THAT is what this Mother's Day brought me: It is NOT about "Mom". It is about the Mother in each of us. There are many women I work with, godmothers to my children, who have made the choice to not have families [and there are MANY people who will tell you that teaching is the BEST birth control. It is very hard to be fair to your own kids when so much of your emotional energy goes to caring for other people's. Part of the reason my kids go away during this time of year is to protect them from my emotional exhaustion.] - yet they all help love my children. They get gifts for them when they hurt, and they babysit and go to the park, and they ask me about the kids every day, and they help me to talk out my parenting decisions, provide insight into my fears, and protect me from parenting in a vacuum. I CAN NOT DO THIS ALONE. I absolutely need my girl friends, and my husband, and my parents, and my in-laws, and our scout communities to help me equip, inform and love my children.
THIS Mother's Day - I want to honor the Mom in EVERYONE, male or female, young or old, biological parent or emotional parent, overt or covert, willing or reluctant, inspired or fearful... there is a piece inside EVERY one that nurtures, provides, cares, cleans, sees the connection between the child and the adult. I celebrate that we have it, and THANK all who express it!
I thought very hard about my daughter this weekend too. I also want to honor the Mom in her. Not just because she is very mothering [taking care of her brother, to the point of bossy and enabling], but because she deserves to know before her time of isolation [if she has one] that she isn't really alone, ever. I see the shining beauty she brings the world, and I know that time will bring that love and joy depth and texture. I SO look forward to knowing the woman she will become. The quote that made me think of her this weekend [I saw on FB] was to the effect of, "Celebrate your uniqueness; don't get yourself tripped up playing dress up in another woman's heels"
A little belated, but very heart felt "Happy Mother's Day" to all!