Motherhood is complicated. It seems so straightforwardly simple. Biology, right? You grow this little baby, help him or her enter the world, take care of him for a few years, and then he or she goes on to live happily ever after. If only it was that simple.
First of all, despite lots of well-meaning advice, no one can teach you how to be a good mother. And being a good mother, takes lots of different shapes and forms. Biology doesn’t even have to come into play. I have lots of “mothers” who have taught me lessons over the years that aren’t blood related to me at all. I’ve been extremely lucky to have MANY of these wonderful ladies in my life.
I have a biological mom that I’ve never known, but I am grateful for her. She made a choice to give me a better life than she thought she could provide, and to me, that’s the sign of a good mother. I don’t resent her for that decision; I’m glad she decided to do what she thought was right.
Then there’s my real mom, and she was the best. She wasn’t related to me by blood, so it just goes to show you that biology isn’t that important after all. She taught me to be kind to others, to love God, to stand up for myself, to always do my best, to use manners, to speak and write properly (I try–sorry, Mom!), to love reading, to respect everyone based on what is on the inside, to be a good hostess, to write thank you notes, and as with all great mothers, the list could go on and on. She was the person that I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, would ALWAYS back me up and support me no matter what the circumstances. She was my fiercest protector. She thought I hung the moon, and as much as I always tried to please her, I knew that she was 100% in my corner even if I messed up. I lost her at a particularly tough time in my life just 4 weeks after my husband died, and even though it’s been almost five years, I can’t get over feeling a little lost without her. No matter our age, I think we all feel like a small forlorn child when our mother is gone.
Next, on my list of the great moms in my life are my two wonderful grandmothers. They weren’t very much alike other than they both walked in faith and could cook the most delicious homemade meals ever. But, they both taught me kindness and love. They taught me to be content and happy and to look to God for strength. I was lucky enough to have both of them in my life into my 40s, and I am so thankful for this gift and the great memories.
Then, there are my mother-in-laws. I’ve been blessed with two, and they in no way resemble any mean or meddling mother-in-law that you’ve ever heard about in books or seen on television. They were/are (one is deceased) strong and amazing women. I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back, they both taught me lessons on how to handle loss with grace. They both lost children, and though they were obviously never the same, they still got out of bed every day and were positive influences on those around them. They both continued to have faith and showed unbelievable strength. I admire them even more now that I’ve experienced the loss of a child.
There are also all of those “mom-like” women who have influenced my life for the better. These are the aunts, cousins, teachers, friends, ex-sister-in-laws, colleagues, and SO many more….. Yes, it takes a village, and you still need that village as an adult. I am incredibly lucky to have a huge one. I am much stronger and better because of these women. When my life has crumbled, they have always been there to help me pick up the pieces. When I’ve experienced the joy life has to offer, they’ve cheered me on. I hope that they all know who they are and how much they mean to me.
Now for my own motherhood story….Having my two children was the best thing that ever happened to me. 100%. There is absolutely no other experience in my life that beats being a mom to Emma and Evan. My firstborn was the responsible one in our family from the moment she opened her eyes in this world. She is still leading the way, and I’m so happy to be along for the ride to get to see just how far she goes. I’ve leaned on her a lot the last few years, and she continually amazes me with her strength and tenacity. She is an amazing woman, and I’m so very grateful and proud to be her mom.
I also have a wonderful bonus daughter. Step-daughter just doesn’t seem to be the right word. I can take no credit for her because I only met her when she was already an adult with a sweet bonus grandson and son-in-law, but I am very proud of her and the strength that she shows every day. She reminds me so much of her dad in her intelligence, humor, and that “little” streak of stubbornness!
So, then there’s Evan. I told you that motherhood was complicated. Some people say that your children are your heart walking around outside your body, and I do believe that is true. When they struggle, you struggle more. Nothing is more important than their safety and happiness. And, well, when you lose one: it’s excruciating. Nothing can prepare you for the anguish. Your world stops. What’s left of your heart freezes over, and you desperately want to find a way to stop the pain. You would do ANYTHING to get them back. Unfortunately, you quickly realize that there is no stopping this pain, nor will there ever be. Time stops, and no matter the age of the child, they are frozen at that age. The happy future that you imagined for them is wiped away; you are left with memories that are never enough along with the knowledge that they will never grow older. As their friends age and pass milestones, as holidays and birthdays and Mother’s Days keep coming, you begin to realize that the world hasn’t stopped as you thought it had. Only YOUR life has stopped. Your baby is not moving on with everyone else and never will. It’s rough, and I wish that the pain of losing a child didn’t have to happen to anyone ever.
My 3rd Mother’s Day without Evan…. I’ve come to realize that I’m glad that the world is still spinning even though I’d much rather him be in it with me. In my darkest days and brightest moments, I’ve learned that the loss is always there. But, I’ve also learned that I can experience happiness and joy despite the pain. So much of life is bittersweet. Being loved is the greatest balm for the pain, and I am lucky to have love in my life. I am SO grateful for MY “people” from those who have been with me from Day 1 when I was 3 months old and came to live with my amazing parents, to those who have entered my life recently and love me for who I am, to those who have come and gone but came into my life at just the right time….the list is never ending. I could never express my gratitude to them all.
I also need to express my love for my students. Being a teacher is a great honor, and I receive no higher compliment than when a student calls me “Mom”. They are and will always be my babies too, and I hope that I can show them a little love (and maybe find them a book to love) in the brief time that I get to be with them.
This is MY story, and everyone has one. Mine is no more special than anyone else’s. Maybe the reading of my motherhood story will make you reflect on your own and be grateful for the mothers in your life that have contributed positively to make you the person you are. We are all so much better for the moms that quietly (or loudly) make the world a kinder and greater place.