Day 56: Deep and Wide

Today is my 5th Mother’s day as a mom. But it’s the first one when I really felt my heart overflowing because of it.

The job itself is exhausting, often thankless and non-stop. It’s humbling and it sometimes feels more like a soul stripping, personality losing battle. I’ve said many times that it’s transformative. The transformation reveals itself in a variety of ways, some obvious and some more subtle. As much as I have loved my girls from the first day, I have been periodically less enamored with the transformation of my body and my lifestyle. I haven’t always felt awed by it. I felt lost in it. Sometimes I felt like I was drowning. Motherhood hasn’t always felt empowering.

I know the magic of watching the girls develop. I’ve enjoyed the time with them. I have always recognized that it is fleeting. I never wished it away. But somehow I kept some a distance between us somewhere deep in my heart. Inadvertently, I spent a lot of time thinking about the past, trying to remember who I was before I was their mother. Trying to design a plan to get back to that person and somehow take them with me. I spent a lot of time thinking about the future when I believed that somehow motherhood would dilute itself with age and I would not be so attached to my children or they would not be so attached to me. I imagined that somehow when they were older, I could be free. Free to become my old self again? Free to fit back into whoever I used dream of becoming? I don’t know.

This year is the first time I have embraced the fullness of motherhood and in doing so the fullness of me. It’s the first time I’ve let my girls take over my heart, shine their light into every crevice of my being. It’s the first time I’ve let the color of their lives mix with mine until there is no end to me and no beginning to them. If they are blue and pink, I am purple and the fade is so masterfully rendered that there are no seams.

I guess I feared this place. Feared losing whatever was left of whoever I used to be. Maybe I feared that a door would close and I would never be able to find my way back.

But first, I know: There is no going back. There is no rewind. This is it.

Second, I think closing the door was actually what I needed. I have been lurking in the doorway between parts of my life for all this time. Unable to find a real comfort zone with motherhood or my career changes or being an expat or being a wife, I clung to old ideas that were at least familiar. But it was holding me back.

And it was exhausting. I think my heart was ready to close the door on all the what-could’ve-beens and maybe-laters. To breath deep and finally say, this is home. These people are my home.

I’ve been looking forward to Mother’s Day this year mostly because it meant it would be warm enough to plant the garden. I’ve never been a fan of those contrived occasions where everyone has to be on their best behavior and be sweet because of a holiday. I don’t like the pressure of a day either. Especially with small children, you gotta savor the moments when they come because they probably won’t come on the scheduled day.

Earlier this week the girls helped me in the garden. One day they cleaned up the cuttings and were so excited to be in charge getting rid of the garden trash. The way Little Bean dug her hands into the dirt and so joyfully carried on with her job made my heart leap.

Today we went to pick wild flowers although it had been raining. It was like heaven poured golden sunshine between billows of white clouds and the Bavarian blue sky for the 30 minutes or an hour we were out. Little Bean couldn’t have been less interested in actually picking flowers but Big Sister trampled through the fields and collected plenty. The flowers were just an excuse to go adventuring together, to let the girls out into the wild and as usual they did not disappoint.

Embracing being a mom–it’s dangerous. Just like all the other kinds of love: You experience the heights of happiness and see from those heights the depths of what could be lost. Life is so deeply hued, so intensely felt. You are in the trenches. It’s heavy and it’s real.

Accompanying these things though is a deep feeling of satisfaction that I can’t remember ever feeling before. I can laugh at things that used to bother me. I can sit still with the girls (not that they sit still for very long). I feel like I’m glowing with love and admiration in the simplest of moments. Ok, I still have plenty of eye rolling moments— but I wonder, what has changed. Is it the quarantine? I’ve considered that, but no. I think it’s standing back and letting myself accept how deep and wide this motherhood thing is. I have judged myself very harshly in the first years of motherhood and marriage. I have done a lot of damaging comparing even when I was only comparing myself to me. Motherhood felt mundane, small and insignificant before but now I see that it’s huge.

As a mother you are affecting change whose ripples will be seen for generations. And there is always enough room for you and your children in your life.

Suddenly I realize that like a pair of gloves, the boundaries of your life grow as you stretch into them.

Until tomorrow,

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