Mother is a title that I wear with honor and pride. Raising humans is kind of a big deal. I want to be their rock. There are so many things that I have learned along the way, that I want to instill in my kids. But basically I just throw everything that I have at them, and hope that more good stuff sticks, than bad.
Mother’s Day this year made me very reflective. I am twelve years older and wiser now, than when I started my mothering journey. I honestly feel more at peace than I have ever been in my life. Not to say that I am nailing this mom thing. Quite the opposite. Most days I feel sure I am screwing it up royally.
If you pay attention though, sometimes you get to see the tiniest fruits of your labor. Take this Mother’s Day for example. My middle son woke me from a sound sleep. I am not going to lie. I was confused at first. It took me a minute to figure out why I was being awakened at 6 o’clock in the morning. He was standing beside my bed, very quietly, as to not wake Dad or anyone else for that matter. He was wearing a shy smile.
Once I got my eyes adjusted, I saw that he had made two cups of coffee, two pieces of toast and one letter that was addressed simply: Mom. As the rest of the house slept, he wanted a moment to make me feel special. He took his toast and coffee and sat in the chair beside the bed. He watched me, anxious for my reaction.
I took a sip of much needed coffee, as I reached for the note. I began to read the words that were written across the paper in purple marker. Purple because he “couldn’t find a pink one.” He knew pink was my favorite color. So purple seemed like the next best choice. At the bottom, he had even drawn a picture of us holding hands.
Every time that I had ever wondered if I was failing at this gig. Worried that I wasn’t giving enough. All those times that I snapped at him. Or didn’t listened closely enough. Each time that I said NO before hearing his reasons. Well apparently, those weren’t deal breakers after all. None of that stuff was in the letter.
I began to get that all too familiar lump in my throat. I often joke that having kids, made me soft. Now I will tear up at the drop of a hat. Sure enough, I felt the warmness pooling in my eyes. I had so much happiness in that moment that it felt like my chest would surely cave from the pressure. What if my heart actually exploded this time?
I looked up from the letter and into his eyes. He shyly looked away. My middle son is eight. And eight year old boys are well on their way to manhood, in their minds anyway. So this is when he began to act aloof. Like it was no big deal. He was up early, anyway.
But in that moment, to me, it was everything. I had a tiny glimpse of the man that he would be one day. With all of my many failures, I had still managed to get some real estate in that amazing heart of his and there was no way I was ever letting it go. In that moment, there was just a flood of love.
Parenting is hard. And so is aging. It is hard to admit that you can’t be the person that you once were. But the great thing is, you don’t want to be that same person anymore. At age 43, I feel centered. And wiser. There is just a calmness about me that you wouldn’t have found a few years ago.
For me, I think a part of that comes from me being a mother. I have a larger purpose outside of myself. The older I get the more I realize that I don’t have to be perfect. Because nothing perfect is very much fun anyway. You can’t even touch it, or it won’t be perfect anymore.
I am not a great mother. But I am a good mother. There are things that I do very well. And there are things that I have all but given up on accomplishing. But in the end, all that even matters is the love that you leave with your children. When everything else is gone, the love will remain.
When I first had my new, perfect, tiny babies, I thought I had a fresh, clean canvas to paint with whatever colors I chose. I could create a picture in my mind of what their lives should be, then if I did everything right, that is exactly what would happen.
But I have been a mother long enough to know that kids are messy and all over the place. And we actually have very little to say about where they end up in life. It is not my responsibility to make them into anything. I am a support. A voice of reason. An ear. A shoulder. A cheerleader. And if you are doing the best that you can, odds are you aren’t going to screw them up.
There will come a day when my Middle Man is too old to bring me a love letter. It could be the time has already passed. I won’t always be the love of his life. But I will always have a piece of his heart.