Mother's Day weekend has, of course, got me thinking about the life long journey of motherhood and being that my oldest will turn 18 in July, I think a lot about how the law tells you that the job is over and how my heart knows that it will never end as long as I'm on this earth. Through all of life's ups and downs, the deep connection that I feel when I focus on the four lives I get to have such a strong role in shaping, make any of life's heartbreaks more than survivable.
Mom's are influencers, quiet shapers of confidence, stability and safety for the kids that we have been blessed with. Mom’s make their mark in small ways that have big time impact over a lifetime. As with anything done successfully, consistency helps solidify a bond that was born in the womb, a jump we have on bonding that the rest of the population will never have or understand. I used to think that providing a protected environment, low in stresses and high in close contact was the way to go and I actually still believe that for the little ones during those physically exhausting early days of parenting. Keeping kiddos from harms way, teaching them how to sleep well, play hard, imagine, create and showing them where their safe place to land is is the foundation for a compassionate and confident teenager and adult. I know firsthand the guilt a mom can carry when safety evades her child and it isn’t a feeling I would wish on anyone. I also know the joy of seeing an imagination at work as I remember so vividly watching Kate, my third born, out the window playing the role of Peter Pan and leading the Lost Boys all through our Neverland backyard. As moms, we are privy to so much beautiful detail if we slow down and take the time to watch.
As my kids get older though, my role changes and I have to start to let them go. My faith makes that a little less scary than I actually thought it would be. As with so many things in my life, when I look ahead of where my gaze should be, circumstances sound so scary, but then when the present moment actually arrives, I am more equipped than I believed myself to be. Giving responsibility and holding them accountable is so much a part of raising them to be the contributors that I hope they will be in this world, and if that is the goal, then letting go becomes a natural part of the process.
Over my life, I have lacked confidence in so many areas, but never in my ability to be a good mom. It’s not because I know what to do in every minute but more because I find so much peace in knowing there is never one right answer. Parenting is an art, not a science and where intention is good, parents and kids usually find their way through some pretty sticky situations over the years.
Before my marriage ended, family dinner was something that I always looked forward to. I felt like the dinner table was my board room and instead of agendas and reports, stories and wisdom could be passed around on a regular basis. I had a beautiful dining room, comfortable chairs and every so often I would get people to linger long enough to get my fix of the best conversations on topics from preschool playgrounds to the Wall Street Journal and so many things in between. The kids would take turns telling their stories from the day…you could actually feel the bond being created. I grieve this time deeply today but also know that life always has a way of changing and new stages of awareness seem to present new opportunities to connect and learn from each other.
My kids are used to the philosophical wisdom that dances around in my head, and they each take it in a little differently. My oldest, Lauren, who is 17 and an old soul to begin with, loves to engage and build the conversation with me. My second born, Luke, who just turned 16, and is a very bright kid despite the one word answers he gives frequently in a deep low toned voice that resembles nothing of the little Thomas the Train loving kid that used to be my carwash buddy, listens respectfully but usually doesn’t feel my level of passion for deep conversation. My twelve year old Kate laughs, occasionally rolls her eyes and has even compared me to Grandma Tala from Moana, as if I am some hippie chick telling everyone who passes to follow their heart…but deep down I know she really gets it. My youngest, Matthew, who is 11 and also on the autism spectrum, takes most conversation so literally it’s hard to get the philosophy in sometimes, but then all of a sudden he chimes in with some shamanic wisdom that beats all of us…you just never know when that will be. This blissful combination of personalities is what makes my life amazing and every moment that I get to share and listen, not just at the dinner table, one of connected amazement for the people they are becoming.
Although everyone is different and I have wonderful memories of the early years, pushing strollers, filling sippy cups and waiting for nap time so I could get a little something done, pale in comparison to the big challenges of raising older kids. There aren’t enough hours in the day with the schedules that they all keep (and let’s be honest, they actually don’t want to sit and philosophize with me all day) to say what you want to say. I have started to think of my blog as my extended moment at the dinner table, sealed in time so that as they grow and aren’t with me as much, maybe they will take a look at it and know where my head and heart were at certain points in time.
Happy Mother's Day to all of the mom's out there. Your impact is great. Keep doing what you do.