When the twins were 3 months old, their dad and I moved into our own place and stared slack-jawed, sat there watching helplessly while the baby chick of our relationship buckled under the strain of new parenting, job loss, childcare woes, and postpartum depression. Not long after, I decided to leave the twins dad, packed up my girls and my things and moved to a small farm town north of Seattle. We shared custody, but I was primary custodian and day-in day-out with the loving help and support of my family, I loved and raised the babies, commuted to my Seattle job, and tried to keep going.
Little by little, I became a mother. Each hurdle, each night time feeding, each stomach flu and cold, each bottle made and given, each morning high adrenaline rush, each nightly bath. Fierce tenderness crept into my veins and coursed into my heart, thawing and softening as it came.
When I look at them, my first beloved daughters, I see love and hope and beautiful eccentricity. When I look at them and feel all that I’m responsible for, I’m often breathless with the anvil of dread and fear. But other times, I’m a warrior. Willing to fall on my sword for my beloveds, willing to ignore slings, arrows, boredom, and suffocation for them.
Mothers sacrifice so much for their kids. And so it has been since time immemorial. But what are we sacrificing that we (and they) might need later? Our souls? Our passion? Our drive? When I think of who I want my daughters to become (fully themselves), I wonder what will become of me if I fail to give them my whole whole self (not just the smiling cheerful sandwich-maker with secret fantasies).
Children are an opportunity to look deeply into the center of our hearts and find what’s there in all its love, fear, hope, and striving. We wonder how much we can give, how far we can push, to insure the safety and happiness of our progeny. But can we be good mothers without giving it all away? Does self-abnegation remain the highest accomplishment of true mother-love?
My mother’s day wish is this: That we can find a light and love-filled path for my family to walk on, without anyone dying inside, without anyone needlessly suffering, and without the joy of childhood getting lost in the middle of the adult-sized drama.
For some lovely reflections on motherhood and what it means to be real, go to Real Mom Truths.