What I Mean When I Say


Those of you in America just celebrated Mother's Day.  Though we wont’ celebrate until later this month, here in Poland, it’s got me thinking.  It can be a bit of a complicated holiday.  It came from the kindest and gentlest of places.  Who doesn’t want to venerate those mothers who gave us life and mothering in general?  But, sometimes, all the adulation can go a little awry.  When you’re listening to the glowing tributes to mothers, it can feel a bit uncomfortable to look around the messy reality of your own mothering.  

It’s into that chasm that I want to say this.  When I talk about the power of mothering—about the beauty and profundity of it . . . when I say those words, I need you to know that I mean the beauty, profundity and power of all of it.  The achingly gorgeous as well heart breaking, soul sapping parts of it.  Can we agree on that?  The moments when we’re filled with rapture, as well as the dull moments—the ones where we can’t feel anything at all—they all get to be part of the story.  The power of this whole thing comes from the three dimensionality of it all.  It’s all the angles.  All the messy, inspiring, brain numbing angles.  So, whichever part I’m talking about: the highs or the lows, I hope you’re seeing the unheralded as well.

I have been doing this mothering gig long enough now to know that it's just as much snuggles as it is sullen glances.   When I’m talking about mothering, I mean the moment a newborn stares up in our eyes with utter trust and confidence.  I also mean the moment when that same newborn, turned teenager dismisses our words.    I am lauding every proud recital moment and every tantrum thrown in a grocery store aisle.  As I’m saying one set of words—about the beautiful or the challenging,   I hope you’re hearing both sets of words.  

We can get awfully lost if we think there's only one side to this equation.  If we’re only looking for the sublime, we’ll be caught off guard by the onerous and ugly.  But, those are integral parts of this picture as well.  They throw the rest into relief.

This mothering that we do, is, at it’s very core, a ridiculously audacious act.  It is as fundamental as anything I know.  It is raw.  It is real.  It is intense.  And, it is consuming.  You can’t flatten that into a one dimensional platitude, no matter how well intentioned.  I want to celebrate the peaks as well as the valleys, and all of the terrain in between.  Want to come on that journey with me?