Happy Mother’s Day.
It’s taken me a while, but I think I’m starting to see what this day is about… and also what is isn’t.
You see, society has ingrained in us to see this day as a day to express gratitude for you, a mother, giving me, a child, life. Moms giving someone life. Motherhood, then, inseparable from its relation to other people, thus establishing an identity through what you’ve done, what you’ve produced– offspring, life, a living, human, pulsating, oxygen-breathing, wide-eyed curious human being through you. A type of experience involving every part of you- your heart and love, your intellect, your very body, day in day out, for the past 32 years since my big brother was born (now that I see that number, I’m grateful to be the youngest, not the oldest).
All of this is good, is great; it’s sacrificial, and quite beautiful.
I’m so in awe, now, of all you -and all those moms out there- do. The pain you went through just to introduce someone like me into this world. The challenges you faced in balancing the scales of work, life, and family, perhaps like a juggling acrobat on a tightrope wire, all without falling off. The stories you told me of gender discrimination at work, circa the time you were pregnant. The daily patience you exhibited when I was a whiny, ungrateful kid, with a knack for spilling things (some habits don’t change) and wanting your attention for every single underwater hand-stand at the pool and climb of monkey bars. Your financial support that went into not just sustaining my life, but enhancing it. (Remember when I used to take art classes? Well, that didn’t go a lot further than my clay lime popsicle I found on a shelf gathering dust in my room when I was home a couple months ago. But those swim lessons you put me through as a kid, even when I would hide in the bathroom when it was time for them to start, turned into a love for the water that has given me a blessing thousand times fold, and shaped who I am today.) From everything within me, thank you.
But if can impart some wisdom to you, as you’ve done for me, may I remind you that this day isn’t just about motherhood. It’s not just for those who have had biological offspring. It’s for every woman out there who’s ever looked out for a child, as a coach, mentor, leader, teacher. It’s about personhood. It’s about you and the fabulous human being you are, regardless of whether or not you procreated. There’s a reason, Mom, why I have that picture of you on a motorcycle in Brazil when you were an exchange student taped on the front door of my room. You were cool then; you’re still cool now. You have an identity apart from me, apart from Eric, and even apart from the time-consuming role you’ve had in raising a child with Down Syndrome, my sister, both of whom I love and cherish to have as siblings.
I value that identity.
Though I know you as a mother, I desire to know you as a person. Though I know you as a parent, I aspire to know you as a friend. Though I’ve known you for the past 26 years, I want to know more of you who you were before then– say, when you were 26.
I’m still not sure where I am with this whole motherhood-thing. There’s some days where I don’t want to have kids. Ever. I think about all the uncomfortable changes your body went through just to help me be here typing these words right now, and I still contend with God that sitting on eggs would be a much more enjoyable option than, well, you know. You dealt with it. The whole ordeal sounds pretty awful to me. But to give someone the opportunity to breathe, to think, to discover, to wonder, to dream, to play, to laugh, to experience every ounce of feet touching Earth or sky, well… that’s pretty beautiful. Pretty special. Quite a gift.
I’ll think on that one a little longer.
In the meantime, happy Mother’s Day to you.
I’m grateful for you.
I love you; I always will.