I stood in church on Sunday during a Mothers Day blessing remembering all the years I debated whether or not to sit this one out. This year when the mothers were called to stand, I did not hesitate or think twice about it. It was a natural and unconscious action to stand up and accept the blessing of the mothers. It was also a defining moment to suddenly realize this wasn’t always me.
* * *
A few years ago, I was reluctant to call myself a mom. I didn’t feel like a mom, but I did feel that I deserved some recognition, though I was often too shy or maybe somewhat ashamed to admit it. I desperately craved knowing our unborn children and missed them in a weird, pathetic way that was difficult to describe.
I was continually devastated by this emotion; this love that I’d never actually experienced. It was not quite love, I guess, but the heart-string pull of wanting to know that kind of love. It was almost getting the chance to have it, and then the relentless ache of losing it time and time again. It was surrendering to the possibility that I might never really be a mom; I would not mother my own flesh and blood. It was the uncertainty of mothering someone else’s baby and being scared to admit that it might not be enough or, at least, not what I’d hoped to do.
Thus, previously when the blessing of the mothers was offered, I stood some years and sat through it other years. Either way, I always felt the glances and glares of those who either thought I should stand or wondered why I deemed myself worthy to stand. I always held back tears.
* * *
A month or so ago, I asked our son, a toddler, to give me “sugars,” also known as kisses. He grinned mischievously, leaned in and kissed me squarely on the lips. Then he leaned back looking me directly in the eyes, wiped his smiling face and said, “Yuuuuuck.”
Where do they learn these things? I raise our kids at home and never taught him that kissing is yucky, although I’m secretly somewhat glad he thinks so. I laughed out loud with him and also felt a tiny sadness enter my heart. He’s already growing and understanding things that I thought would take years longer. It’s a proud, yet lonely sort of feeling… A mommy moment. It all goes by so quickly.
* * *
I grieve for those who want to experience parenthood but can’t. I’ve been there, if only for a time. I applaud those who manage to easily attain their dreams. Dreams are just plain demanding and squirrely, whether or not they involve children.
We all have different expectations of life, most of which never happen or not in the ways we imagine. It’s all been said before… But whatever we have or don’t have and want or don’t want, we should be downright grateful. Even the hard stuff places us somewhere that makes us stronger, more loving people, if we let it happen and believe that it’s all for the good.
If I had given birth to the first baby that was conceived just six short months post-marriage, I would absolutely not have been the same mother I am now and, frankly, I question whether or not our marriage would have survived. We were babies ourselves. I’m sure we all would have been fine in the long-run, but we would have had to grow up together and it would have been extremely trying. We would not have appreciated our lives or each other the way we do now. We needed to go through some emotional crap to learn how to pick up the pieces and move forward. And, of course, we’re still learning.
In hindsight, I appreciate the losses because each one changed my perspective and allowed me to feel things I’d never felt. I also truly love the people that held me tightest when I needed it most-est. (We find our angels within these experiences.) And I appreciate the hard, gritty, messy stuff that forced me, kicking and screaming, to be better.
We are so far from perfect, but we also understand how much there is to lose. The idea of walking through fire, literally, no longer scares me. I’d do it without a second thought to save them, to love them more, and to prove that my family – the big dream – means more to me than life itself. Now I gladly, confidently stand up and accept my blessings because I am more fully aware of them, and motherhood is teaching me that blessings don’t always come wrapped in a pretty package. Sometimes we have to fight for them and believe in them, relentlessly.