I passed a car on the road today, a beat-up red van. On the back were handwritten the words “Caution! Magnificent children on board.” I smiled to myself, as it made me think of my magnificent children. And parenthood really is about our magnificent children – and all of us feel that way, hopefully. Despite the temper tantrums and the broken glass, we grudgingly respect their ingenius methods of driving us batty and trying things we couldn’t even think up.
I’ve realized recently that I lived in fear of letting them down. The thing is, I will let them down. That’s something I can count on wholeheartedly. Our kids have gone through something already that we cannot relate to: adoption. How do we parent something we have no experience with?
My parents were at their finest when I told him I was getting divorced years ago. My life was falling apart, and the best advice I received came from my mother, who’s been happily married for almost 40 years! How did she do that? I want to live up to the example my parents set for me.
The inevitability of that moment tells me I need to pull it together and embrace the fact that failure will be part of the experience. No parent can relate to every experience their child will have, but we can use our empathy for them to expand our empathy for all. Of all of the lessons – so many lessons! – I’m taking away from parenthood, the top one is humility in life experience. Whether that’s marveling over Elise’s eye drop trick or apologizing to my mom for being sure she was wrong and I was right (many topics, usual outcome has her kindly keeping her applicable “I told you so” to herself), motherhood shows me everything I don’t know in a given scenario.
The first women who helped me to be brave in ignorance (when changing a diaper could cause a brain bleed, no parent has a clue!) were Tess’ NICU nurses, who I spent my first Mother’s Day with…on the phone. I got a cold, you see, so I couldn’t see Tess. Those women went out of their way to make my day special and help me feel connected to my little fighter. A photo of us after her first bottle popped up on Facebook today. I smiled at how far she’s come, and shuddered at the memories of constant worry and stress. Then I thought about all of the moms who’ve had less positive outcomes, or who are in hospital rooms right now. I am having a “typical” Mother’s Day, with handmade gifts and a daddy-made breakfast. The kids are playing and happy; the sun is shining. We’ll read stories, play with trains, go to the park, and I will bask in their accomplishments and cuteness and my good fortune at being their mom. All of their first moms are with us in spirit today, and we’re celebrating all of them too on this day that belongs to all of us.
We often roll our eyes at Hallmark cards that just aren’t realistic. They aren’t always. That said, those hallmark moments are what get us through the bad sitcom days. And knowing four moms in the world are missing these children today makes my time with them feel even more precious.
So thank you to my mom, for being a great role model. And thank you to Rose, for raising the man who makes my motherhood possible in umpteen ways. Thank you to Kat, Kerna, Bianca, and Amy, for allowing me to be a mother in the first place – a mother to your precious children.
Happy Mother’s Day to mothers whose children are showering them in love, those whose kids forgot to call, those whose kids can’t call because they’re no longer with us or in our in no shape to do so. And let those of us having a “normal” Mother’s Day revel in the beauty of time with our children at any age. Let’s celebrate our great fortune and try to find those hallmark moments and enjoy them regularly. After all, we deserve it! We are raising the next generation of magnificent mothers and parents, and are setting an example for them now.