Monday, May 10, 2010

Just Another Day In Paradise

My Mother’s Day wasn’t perfect. The weekend brought rain and snot. At one point, I found myself huddled in a car with a crying, snotty Kasia and a crying, cold James, watching the soccer game that James was supposed to be playing in (I kind of deserved this, since I had completely underestimated how cold it was—it is NOT supposed to be 35 degrees in May—and had forgotten to bring gloves or a hat for James). I didn’t get to sleep in on Mother’s Day, as I’ve learned that me sleeping in only leads to a grumpy husband who didn’t get enough sleep, and then no-one is happy. So I got up with the kids, bright and early. I didn’t get the tulips I wanted, even though I sent my husband an e-mail that said, “FYI, I like tulips.” Apparently the message was too subtle. I changed my outfit twice before going to church and still had massive amounts of snot on my shirt when we arrived. We ate out at restaurant for lunch, but between a squirmy baby who had missed her nap and a hyper 5 year old who literally *jumped* out of his chair four times, I didn’t get to eat my food until it was cold. There was laundry to be done, a house to be cleaned, and dinner to be made. And nobody else volunteered to take over those duties.

So, my Mother’s Day wasn’t perfect. But I chose to love it anyway.

I chose to love it because I know full well that there are too many women who ache to be mothers and are struggling on their journey to get there. Woman who will spend Mother’s day trying desperately to forget that the one thing they want—to have a baby to snuggle and kiss and rock to sleep at night—seems to be only a distant dream that will never become a reality. Women who have lost babies who were part of them, if only for the briefest moment in time. I know this because I was one of those women. And so I chose to love the snot and the tears and the laundry and the chaos because they are part and parcel of this amazing gift called motherhood.

I chose to love it because my son has another mother, his Ethiopian first mother, who didn’t get to see him jump off of chairs today. As grateful as I am for the joy that this amazing little boy brings into my life and as much as it physically takes my breath away when I think about the prospect of not having him here, I will never forget that my joy comes at the expense of another mother’s loss. I wish I could reach out to his first mother to tell her that James is safe, and he is happy, and he is loved. Oh, how he is loved. But I can’t. And so I chose to love the day and this boy and all his energy to honor the sacrifice his birthmother made. And I chose to love the day because I am heartbreakingly aware of how, with just the smallest twist of fate, I would not have had the chance to hug this little boy and watch him jump off chairs, and see him grow up before my eyes.

I chose to love it because, all over the world, there are mothers who can’t feed their children or keep them warm or keep them sheltered from the rain. On my Mother’s Day, I got to give my children food without thinking twice about how I would make this happen. I got to clothe them, and when they were cold, we got to snuggle in a car, protected from the rain. And when they were sick, I got to wipe their noses with a clean cloth and give them medicine to ease their pain and tuck them into warm beds. I got to give them warm bathes and clean clothes. I got to keep them safe. So I chose to love the day because I know how extraordinarily lucky I am to be able to give those gifts to my children and how many mothers would do anything to be able to do these simple things for theirs.

I chose to love the day anyway because behind the joys of motherhood, there is a sadness that always lingers in the shadows. I miss my mom. I miss her smile and oh, how I miss her voice. Her voice, the one that had the ability to make me feel safe and warm and loved all over. I miss that feeling, the one of complete and utter unconditional love that only a mom can evoke. I miss her profoundly and deeply and achingly. And yet the grief is bittersweet. The bitterness is obvious. The sweetness is the clarity that such a loss brings about the brevity of life. That clarity shapes my days. I chose to love the day because I truly understand, down to my very core, that these moments with my children are excruciatingly, breathtakingly brief.

So I chose to love my Mother’s Day. It wasn’t perfect. But it was full of moments that were oh-so-sweet. I woke up to James spontaneously shouting, “Happy Mothers’ Day!” with no one to remind him to do so (remember, my husband was still sleeping). My baby girl woke up and smiled at me with her two new teeth peeking out. My husband presented me with a Dairy Queen cake which I had also requested (okay, so truth be told, my e-mail actually read: “FYI I like tulips and Dairy Queen cake.” He just went for the cake part instead of the tulips part). I felt my mom’s presence in church. At dinner that night, James insisted I get the first piece of cake and crawled over into my lap to give me a kiss. I got to hug my children and watch them play and to put them to bed with full bellies, clean pajamas, and warm blankets. My day wasn’t perfect. But it was more than I deserved. And it was more than enough.


  1. Ok. That made me cry. I can't imagine my life without my kids either. Thanks for the reminder on perspective!

  2. That just made me cry. Now I am going to go watch my little girl sleep.