Sunday, May 10, 2009

Beyond Mother's Day

When I think of motherhood I hold this picture in my head.

I am two-years-old, rosy cheeked and sitting nestled on my mom's lap. I am surrounded to the right by my Mimi (grandma) and to the left by my Grandma Glady (great-grandma).

It is a cocoon of motherhood with me nestled into the middle. The collective wisdom of this council of motherhood drips from the washed out photograph in my mind.

Being a mother is the hardest job I know. I mean that not as a way to disparage other jobs or to exalt mothers above all others. I simply mean, for me, being a mother is not a naturally easy thing. Most days I feel more like the unqualified babysitter for these amazing creatures who have been entrusted into my care. I feel like an imposter. A pretend mother. As if I came straight out of a booth on Canal Street and was marketed to a tourist looking for a cheap imitation to fool everyone around her.

But these women? Surely these women have never felt this way. These women parented through the Great Depression. Or persevered through disease. Or built businesses while they grew families.

And most days I am lucky to get dressed.

In my heart, my mother, my grand-mother, and my great grand-mother are perfect moms. Moms who always knew how to respond to their children. Moms who were strong enough to keep trials and obstacles from stealing their children's innocence. Moms who had the answer to every parenting question I could ever have.

But, though my heart finds them perfect my mind knows the truth. These mothers, the ones who's collective mothering shaped my being in a domino effect of parenting, were mothers just like me. Flawed. Imperfect. Uncertain. But, ultimately, mothers who poured their hearts into their children. Mothers who loved. Mothers who got up every morning and tried again to be a better mother than the day before.

And that is all their children could ask for. It is all anyone can ask for.

Today I celebrate Mother's Day as a mother and as a child. Today I will hug my mom and tell her how much I love her. Just like I did yesterday and the day before.

Because mother's day is not just about loving or being loved for the sake of one greeting card holiday a year. It is a celebration of the unsurpassed love that mothers and children have for each other. It is a celebration of our best efforts and the efforts of all those who have shaped us.

Today I celebrate my mother. And her mother. And the mother before her.

And I will remember to celebrate them every day because of who they made me and how they shaped me.


JULZ said...

Funny, I felt the same way about the women sitting on each side of me. I always felt like they knew all of the answers and I was living in a story written by them. A story where they knew all of the endings. If you do this then this will happen, if you choose this then you will be doing this. I don't think that they ever lacked for motherly knowledge. I am sure that they did, they were mothers at 17 and 19 how smart could they have been? How smart were you or I at those ages, yet somehow they pulled it off and they convinced everyone that they knew what they were doing, or maybe they did... I miss these women everyday of my life ...everyday. I miss their laughter, their judgement, their hands, their eyes, their voices. But most of all I miss their knowledge because if they were still here I would still be asking for motherly advice. Jennafer, Thank you for your tribute. I love you everyday more then the day before. Maybe someone will have a picture of us one day and think we knew it all. xoxo mom

Heather said...

Beautiful. Happy Mother's Day

Anonymous said...

What a treasure that 4 generation photo is!

And you get told all the time how much you look like your mom don't you?

And that photo of K holding onto T's foot? So cute I can hardly stand it! :)