Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Meaning of Life, a Mother's Day reflection

"Breakfast in Bed," Mary Cassatt.

 As a young girl, I was always given the message that I could do anything. With hard work, of course. But I was never told plainly that I must one day grow up, get married, and have babies. Nonetheless, I grew up with sisters and barbies and accessorizing and an endless string of crushes on little boys who were blissfully oblivious. I didn't give much thought about my future back then. But what I do recall is a deep longing to be a mother one day, and the fear that I might not get that chance.

It sounds cliche, but growing up in an academic family, it was just as important to be intelligent and successful as it was to be family-oriented. I grew up in a community where women sought out professions and were not often married before 30, let alone procreating. I grew up around women who "did it all" and figured I would just follow suit.

Then my family moved from Florida to Texas, my senior year in high school. Which will have to be its own story for another day, but suffice it to say that in time I've realized - for me personally - I can't do it "all." At least not well enough for my standards. I am nurturing a career at a pace which revolves around motherhood, but what has changed for me over time is my confidence in saying that "achieving" motherhood and living that calling out to the best of my ability will be my greatest accomplishment, my crowning glory.

Of course there's nothing which is seemingly glorious as I look back on the last 7 years of my motherhood, as I fondly recall how many poopy diapers I have changed, how many sleepless nights I have had, how many storybooks I have read one-hundred times over, how many mornings I've spent at the EXACT SAME PARK, how many times I've broken up a fight and shouted "no handstands on the couch!" or "keep your hands to yourself!" Or, what about the two-trillion times I've nursed a baby to back to sleep or flew a little boy to bed like an airplane, or like superman. I've lost count of how many legos I've picked up (and stepped on, screaming simultaneously), how many times I've missed phone chats with friends, and cleaned up milk spills and dried wet little heads after baths. And tantrums. Dear Lord, the tantrums. I have greatly improved the number of tantrums I have each day as well as the quantity of dark chocolate I keep around the house. :)

Many times I've wondered what I'm missing "out there" and what it would be like for one day to be "at work" instead of hanging out on Sesame Street. These days can be agony. But these days are fleeting, too.

And that's when I remind myself to savor the every day moments I've shared with the best people in the world, to kids! And the unbelievable Mom friends who have sustained me and lifted me up, taught me, encouraged me and strengthened me - the bonds which I hold dear. And I think about how much our children have changed me, and taught me...about patience, forgiveness, trust, compassion, only 7 short years, what I have learned about myself and others, about the love of God, about the meaning of life. And I wonder, how much more I have to learn? 

It has taken time for me to "forgive myself" for not fully mastering a professional career at this point in my life but to instead delight in what I have crafted with my own hands, with my prayers, my laughter. My blood, sweat and tears. The years will come when my hands will feel so empty again.

There's a crown all right, even though it may be made out of paper mache and twigs and leaves. It's a symbol of how fragile these days are, and it's splendidly glorious.

Tomorrow we celebrate Mother's Day, and we will honor our two beautiful mothers who have given us life, all of the mothers in our families and amongst our dear friends, our Blessed Mother Mary who brings us to close to the sacred heart of her son Jesus, and all women who give life to the world in so many ways. Thank you God, for my own Mom, who spent many days living patiently on Sesame Street and who taught me how to give my all. Thank you for my sacrificing husband who has made me a mother, teaches me daily, makes me laugh always and who aids me in all that I do. Thank you for my wonderful 3 sons Lord, and for the gift of my vocation, my very highest purpose in life - please help me to be worthy of the name "Mom!" Happy Mother's Day!!!

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