Maternal musings...

I remember the first time that I felt like a real mom. It was the first Mother's Day after Benj was born. I woke up to a crib filled with puke. It was special. But it was the first time I had that, "even though this is supposedly your day, it's really all about the baby because YOU ARE THE MOM" feeling.

I remember a Mother's Day when we lived in California, I had three tiny kids and I got a CD for Mothers Day. My kids were all dancing around the living room as it was playing, in the sunshine, so happy and sweet and innocent and as I sat there openly weeping over the scene, I had that achingly familiar
"There is nothing more sublime then this moment, why can't it last forever?"
along with the
" Your happiness is totally tied up in theirs because YOU ARE THE MOM" feeling.

Then there was the Mother's Day that my mother in law spent with us. She was dying of cancer and had come to stay with us while she got treatment. Caring for her was the first time I had that, "one day nobody is going to be your mommy and you won't be able to curl up in a fetal position over that fact, because YOU ARE THE MOMMY" feeling.

A lot of the time I still struggle to feel like the mom but I'd say it is finally starting to sink in a bit. As I have mentioned before, the notion that I am the one chosen to guide these people whose souls I feel sure are light years older then mine, is really humbling, and I think that is part of the struggle in seeing myself as their mom. Also with the fact that I started my family pretty young and never got the "I am a kid" thing out of my system. (I still haven't actually).

But there are those moments, those incredibly furious, I can't believe you did that and I am incandescent with rage because you did, those breathlessly in love with them, can a human being really be this perfect moments, those moments of pride as I see them, out in the world, doing their thing, realizing that they are really entirely separate people from me, those moments when the primal mother bear instinct is woken and travels 0-100 in a split second from my very core to come roaring out when someone injures or even threatens to injure my child in body or spirit, (even when the perp is 3 years old), which can leave me shaking with adrenaline for hours after.

It's those intense moments when I most feel like a mom. The rest of the time, I've sort of felt more like one of the pack. We're a unit moving through life, and I'm just the (slightly) older one, who tends to call the shots. I love being a mom, I feel as though I have the most enviable job in the world getting to be a stay at home mom and I am thankful for every day that I get to, but I still don't feel quite grown up. In short, I still feel like I'm waiting to "arrive", that I'm waiting to be who I am going to be when I grow up.

For this and other reasons I have been pondering my role as a mother quite a bit recently, and wondering if all this time I could have been doing more with my life, more to discover and fulfill the other life missions that I have sensed within me since I was a child, if all this time I could have been out in the world changing lives, developing and harnessing my talents to help people and as if maybe I should have figured out how to do all that without short-changing my family and continuing to do what I do now. In short, I have been wondering if I really can have it all.

After quite a bit of thought, prayer, agonizing and making my patient friends and family listen to me processing it, I have decided that yes, I really can . I can be both fulfilled and deeply influential. I can have a huge career right now, raising my family. Quite simply, I can have it all without doing it all.

The epiphanies I have had over the last few weeks are not new. Most of us have probably heard them countless times before, and don't get me wrong, I have always bought into them. But I never internalized them as much as I have over the last little while,

I am loathe to sound preachy or pious or Stepford or Pollyanna, but I have developed a real conviction that being a mother is the ultimate career.

In fact, sometimes I find the battle of the sexes in the workplace quite ironic, since every woman, whether she births, adopts or mentors with the maternal gifts that she is endowed with, has access to a life-long career and influence which no man can ever have and from which she can never be fired. Nope, never. (While one would be hard-pressed to come up with a career that is irrevocably inaccessible to a woman.) It puts the whole inequality thing in a different light for a change doesn't it?

And then there is the matter of empowerment. A mother views and makes her role as mother as powerful or as powerless as she chooses. She can be as inspired and creative as she wants to be. She can think outside of the box whenever she likes. Or not. She can be a force for tremendous good which will affect generations of lives, (whether her child is a famous politician or philanthropist or whether they go on to live a more typical life, this fact remains the same) . A mother can also choose to do just enough to get by without having her kids removed from her care. But she alone is the one to decide.

I'm starting to really see how there is no end to the potential and progression of this role which I have been blessed with as a woman. What is more, I define how I will fill it. I decide when I am ready for a promotion to the next level. I can take on more responsibility, manage and delegate as I see fit. There is no glass ceiling in this career, I am CEO, I report only to God. And He is a flawless manager, who not only encourages, guides and empowers but has the development of my full potential and happiness as His own goal. In fact, rather then a boss, He is a partner in this amazing venture. That's some power right there sistah!

Lest I sound as though I am tripping on the power of it all, let it be clarified that I understand that I have no power over my children, or at least I shouldn't. But I have power within and over myself, and I can use it to influence my children to use their own power for good, probably more then anyone else in the world ever will.

I am coming to understand that being first and foremost a mother during this season of my life is not living a smaller life then I was destined to. I am not waiting to "arrive". I am living my glory days right now! And no doubt the glory days of right now will morph into a different kind of fulfillment later, but no matter how big or small a career I have then, it won't be in any way bigger or better then the one I have right now.

Whether or not I later go on to work with thousands of people whose lives are made better for my role in them, or whether nobody outside my immediate scope of influence right now, ever hears me, I can know without any doubt that I made, am making, an impact in the world that will affect people for eternity. Eternity! I can know that I, in partnership with my husband and God, have a tremendous influence as to what that impact will be. No matter what lies ahead for me in future careers and missions in life, I am confident that this is the greatest position of power and influence I will ever have, bar none.

Motherhood. It is is not for the faint of heart. And if you are faint of heart to begin with, it will fix you of that. There are more bodily fluids involved then most people sign up for. There is less sleep then human beings should be able to endure. There are more sacrifices, frustrations, pain and angst then one could possibly imagine, but despite it all, it is one heck of a gig, with a benefits package like no other. I can' t think of a more promising or prestigious career then the one I have right now, and I feel so absolutely privileged to call it mine.

Happy Mothers Day to all the amazing women in my life who mother me and mother my children. And especially to my own mom. Who always made us feel as if she loved her career as a mom and has never stopped developing and excelling at it.

And finally, a tribute to Aaron's mother, Mary, who left a magnificent legacy from her career as a mom. I am grateful to her every day.

Here's the annual, "your children are almost as tall as you even though you are in 4 inch heels and they are in socks" Mothers Day photo.

Opening Gracie's wonderful and very well hidden gift. I love her face here.

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