I decided to take a few days before I wrote this entry for several reasons. First, I wanted to enjoy the day marked as Mother's Day, as no matter what I may feel about it, I know my husband and children will mark it somehow and I want to appreciate and embrace whatever they choose to do. Second, I needed a little time, about a week now, to process through all the emotions and feelings I have surrounding this "holiday." I am proud to be a mom to three amazing children. I am proud of our triumphs and struggles and I am proud of the ties that bind us, now and forever. Being a mom and parent can be thankless but I remain thankful for the honor and privilege of this life and these moments.
You see sometimes over the course of my time being a mother, 23 years now, this day has been one of laughter, smiles, and happiness. Other times, it has been marked by intense grief and heartache. Sometimes a sense of detachment. Others, a profound joy. I am learning to try and not have expectations for days like Mother's Day. This may not seem like an uplifting message simply because it is tainted by reality, by life, by the hardships, trials and triumphs of motherhood, but it is a message filled with truth, honesty and love. I see you. I have been and am where you are. Motherhood is not always roses and thankfulness. It is quite often sticky messes, ingratitude, disappointment and agonizingly repetitive. Why is that hard? Because we all want and desire the Hallmark card, the perfect Hollywood image of family and happiness. We all wish for the perfectly organized, coiffed and managed life that is held aloft like a trophy - It's not real. There are perfect moments in motherhood but many are forgotten and lost if you are in the middle of one of the low times. A friend of mine has often reminded me that "You are only as happy as your saddest child." It is so true. If I have expectations, I am sure to be disappointed because no one can live up to perfection. We can pretend but we know it's not real, so it leaves us feeling empty.
That being said, the in and out days, the constant ringing of morning alarms, kid groans and everyday tasks and duties of being a mom can be filled with contentment, pleasure and even joy. I am learning to stop and really look at my children. To see their unique facial expressions - how one purses her lips and chews on the inside corner of the right side as she reads, studies or concentrates. How another twirls her hair around her fingers as she thinks. To put down the phone, the spoon, the remote and really hug and hold my child when they come in for a hug. I know they may not last, that there may be a period when the last thing they want to do is hug their mom.
I miss my oldest because so much has changed since he moved away and is now an adult. The calls and in person moments are less, the pain of growing up and apart, is a hard transition for a mom to bear most days. The opportunities to capture memories, far less. Teenage and young adulthood have been difficult times for me - both when I was the child and now, as a mom, when I have my own children at those ages. I can appreciate and often feel regret at my insensitivity and lack of regard for my mom when I was a child and young adult. I truly had no idea. I had no idea the depth of devotion, love and sacrifice my mom made for my siblings and I as children and still now when we are full grown adults with families of our own. I had no idea the tears, prayers and lost hours of sleep as she worried and grieved for us and our choices. Truly, I could not grasp the depth and breadth of a mother's love until I became a mother myself. That knowledge only grows deeper, wider, fuller as the trials of motherhood are tested and felt. Each day brings more understanding and gratitude. I don't have many photographs of my mom. I am fortunate that she is still here for me to pick up the phone and call her, not too far away that I can get to her in 4 hours time to visit, but when I look around my home, filled with portraits and memories, I can only see a few with her in them. So, my gift to her will be a gift for myself and my children and to my future generations. I will surprise her with a photography portrait experience that will showcase her in all her beauty, grace and dignity. I will proudly sit beside her in a portrait, this woman I am growing to look so much like, and I will tell her thank you. I will tell her I love her and that I am so very thankful for each and every sacrifice, prayer and act of forgiveness she has gracefully given, when I let her down by being selfish and ungrateful. I am humble in the knowledge that I am not a perfect mother, that I can only wish to be as wonderful and amazing as my own mother has been and her mother was before her and so on and on. I have been blessed with opportunities and the ability to provide gifts of legacy for myself and others. Sometimes the hardest thing is convincing others of that importance - I can say that it truly doesn't matter what size you are, what you wear or if you are "perfect." All that your children and loved ones want is to see you exist in memories, photography and moments. They need us to get out from behind the camera and in front of it so that the photography of our family shows us complete, imperfections and all. A quote by Amy Bloom says, "You are imperfect. Permanently and inevitably flawed. And YOU are beautiful." I think that not only describes us a human beings, but as mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, friends and finally, families. Each imperfect but yet, perfect in its own time and way. My ending words - go and exist each and every day. We never know when things will change or if we will have those moments again. Say thank you and express love and gratitude for the words of wisdom, spontaneous hugs and silly moments filled with abandon and hilarity. Find time to create and capture memories. For when they are gone, they are sorely missed. xo With love ~