I bet you can tell by the title that I’m done with forced appreciation days. I bet I’m not alone. I bet there are a million other moms out there who would just like the world to recognize that women are human, that moms are human, that moms have too much asked of them and not enough expected of them in terms of their growth as individuals and. And. I bet you the consumer ideology that heaps a load of obligation on our backs smells really bad right now while the money rolls in and the lines queue up at the local Cheesecake Factory. I bet you.
[I bet you none of it compares to the birthing our children do of us mothers. I bet you no one has a clue. I bet you there is nothing more challenging or more beautiful or more terrifying or more heartbreaking than bringing 3 lives into an utterly mad, mad world.]
I bet you might assume this is a terrible day for me for some crazy reason. But the truth is, it’s not. It’s a day like many others, a day in which I’m contending with the very intense requirements of motherhood while juggling the fallout of others’ mothers’ fallout while everyone ignore’s the power of others in general. And a day when women are the first and easiest scapegoats in a line of ancient feminine scapegoats. But I don’t feel like one of those scapegoats. I refuse that vibe. I just know this world. And I weary of the disorders posing parenthood and authoritarianism crushing humanism and transformation. It’s everywhere, all day, everyday and it especially wreaks havoc on mothers, telling them they can never ____ and the shouldn’t ever ____ and if they fart sideways they might ruin the world. Ha, and they might actually. It’s a rigged game.
Here’s to mothers. Here’s to women who mother but have never felt the surreal sensation of a bowling ball-like human body coming through the most amazing otherwise recognized channel of incredible pleasure. As it turns out, being able to push ’em out doesn’t guarantee you’ll do much very well beyond that flesh-ripping moment. And it’s high time we quit romanticizing motherhood, I bet.
Here’s to people who refuse bullshit and manage to enjoy forced appreciation days no matter what they conjure of mothers’ worst reruns or best creations. And here’s to the ones who loathe it.
[Here’s to my children whose lives have ushered in epochs of gut-wrenching, heart-embiggening, tragedy-contending, beauty-bowling moments. Here’s to my children who show love in ways no Mother’s Day can convey, who shine and grow and rip up my pretenses, my pride, and my ideas of what is perfect by being gorgeous expressions of wholeness becoming. Mother’s Day can, otherwise, go fuck itself.]
You leap beyond all
despair and hopeless falling.
Fiery woman, live;
no spire reaches
past your own sacred lightning,
flaring out fierce love.
Stomp and squeal delight
against a night of constant
yearning. Your love’s dance
blurs us past façades,
awakens all our hoping
towards sun’s warm call.
“May” is one of my daughter’s nicknames. On this day, pictured here as blurred trees and a church held steadfast against our movement, Marion drove us around to see some of the more lovely parts of Pittsburgh. Our trip to see her began with her trademark spontaneity and abandon when we drove up to her home. She leapt up and out the front door into the 1am cold night air and squealed with joy and then down the stairs, doing little run/skip/dance moves out into the street to reach into my car for a huge hug. And that is the best of the “Church of May.” She reveals, at her most fiercely loving moments, what we’re all made of and what we’re all here for … no matter how dark the time. We are the sacred, spiritual, divine-as-love.
Mother’s Day conjures up the many names by which we address our mothers…
Mama (my favorite)
to name a few.
My youngest son took to referring to me as “birthgiver.” I can’t read or say the word without chuckling. He has a flair for the dramatic and while he doesn’t literally call me that very often, it’s memorialized on his iPod. He receives texts from “birthgiver.” And then there’s “momnoms…” one of the often-used nicknames my middle son loves. I can’t decide which I like better. It’s a spin off from “nom nom” and appropriate, I’m thinking.
We mamas give birth, are consumed – some of us literally giving sustenance from our own bodies – and then our schedules, our energy, the old identity all of it consumed as we watch our children grow from adoring little creatures to sometimes scornful boundary-bucking beauties. And it is, all of it, beautiful. Ok, most of it.
For obvious reasons, the phrase “birthgiver” hit me today as I looked over pictures from way back before my own mama gave birth to me, to my life…
And as I reflect on mamas and life and birth and giving and consuming it strikes me how we are, all of us, capable of becoming birthgivers. I think of at least one man when that word hits my brain. So many give birth to offspring of the soul, nurturing, conjuring and calling forth dormant aspects of our personalities, our potential. It’s a beautiful truth.
My own children have birthed me in ways no others in this world, in this lifetime, can ever lay claim to… My own Mama has gifted me with a bounty of love-awareness no hiccup in our relationship can ever destroy. She is a beauty, inside and out.
And then there is the sense of a dance eternal, of a weaving and woven tapestry reaching back into fields and lifetimes centuries back…so often I have thanked my children for finding me, for choosing me to be their birthgiver. For that is what we are here for, all of us. We’re here to give birth to each other by our love and support, our encouragement and courage in truth with each other. We can choose what we allow and what we refuse to birth. Such a beautiful handiwork we can, each one of us, make of our lives and of our interactions with each other in love.
It’s an especially wonderful gift to be able to receive from those we are supposedly “in charge” of, to receive on levels that nurtures their awareness that they, too, give birth and especially that they give birth to vital parts of our own souls … just. by. being. And especially by being encouraged to question everything.
So here’s to all of the birthgivers out there and the momnom yummy folk who have nurtured soul, encouraged confidence and facilitated independence… we are all grateful for the dance.
Four packed tightly under covers…eight feet gifting each other with warmth, one pair seeking another less warm, giving kind remedy; sharing space tangled up in an attic bedroom with no power but two candles and giggles and then sweet sleep in a hushed daylight filled with ice. Soft snores after a breakfast too big except for nothing else to do in a town coated in winter’s grasp.
Then firelight and stove top sustenance, candles lit all over a house bathed mostly in shadow and cold but oh so warm. Games and face time, firewood and laughter, gathered ice for coolers salvaging what we can. Tallulah River stone soup for feet unaccompanied, gathering hot river gems up in cloth to carry up to bed, settling in for a night of no heat.
A renewed, stark, startling awareness of what conveniences pilfer,
their insipid gain robbing us of something only an ice storm can bring…
connection more profoundly felt, reliance more sweetly known.
turning to the earth for protection…
appreciation for life’s turns less convenient
reminding us of treasure sometimes lost
in what we understand as wealth.
Maybe the earth conspires to remind us how vulnerable we are, both in our advancements and without them. And without our bonds of love, our shared space and renewed survival ability, we would wilt under a perpetually shining sun.
Either way, there’s nothing like the pleasure of finding your kids will make, not complaint, but fun in the face of one more dance with winter’s whimsy.
For sun’s song through trees’ outstretched arms
the most supreme grace of hugs
from three birthed
but birthing me,
I turn towards each day
because of all the challenges
surreal and intriguing.
Life is precious fleeting
but pulsing eternal patterns,
a tapestry of wholeness felt
as love unfolds us all –
when we reach with hearts of faith,
shifts within soul’s reign
No, not mutants… mutations.
“You understand that you can never own love, right? No matter how much someone adores you today, no matter how much you adore someone, you can’t force that unique state of grace to keep its shape forever. It will inevitably evolve or mutate, perhaps into a different version of tender caring, but maybe not. From there it will continue to change, into either yet another version of interesting affection, or who knows what else?” Rob Brezsny
I love this gem from Brezsny. It challenges us to accept that we cannot control the metamorphosis of love in our relationships and it reminds us that we are sometimes infected by the frenzy of a desperate shapeshifter, wrestling and kicking against what cannot be controlled.
We want reliability. We want what we experienced in the beginning. We want the rush. We want the comfort. We want not to have to adjust to what is, well, mutating.
The mutations of love in a marriage immediately come to mind ‘though mine ended years ago. I still love the man who made it possible for me to grow without fear, the father of my children. But that love morphed into something no longer capable of sustaining a growing marital bond. We’re both able to live with that truth, apart from each other, but together in parenting. The whole “’til death do us part” thing doesn’t always honor what love becomes, in spite of our best intentions. But commitment is a beautiful cauldron for love’s mutations, keeping us standing in love regardless of the shifting nature of those bonds we thought we had all figured out.
And then there is parenting and the mutations surreal, the growth witnessed on levels incomprehensible at times. We fall in love with newborn, newborn begins to crawl, our love expands, deepens; toddler calls to the sweetest memories and hopes and sometimes the worst pain too. Our love shifts, taking on hues far fiercer than we imagined possible. And on it goes. We turn around and there is this mini-adult who doesn’t agree and laughs and scoffs and well, challenges what we had known of the sweet lil creature in the beginning. But the truth is, as much as that infant was the future mini-adult, the difference is akin to welcoming a new person. Yes, these changes are gradual but can evoke an unnameable grief. We cannot go back to the 16 month old and cuddle, hold the essence so unique to babies. Or the 5 year old with the inquisitive wonder. I have come to believe that many parenting woes originate in the inability of the parent to accept that the cutie pie was always going to be someone to stand shoulder to shoulder with, to concede in argument with and look up to many times. We aren’t prepared for the changes, the introduction of so many phases of one person’s development evoking such a confusing variety of response. And we feel the quality of that love shift, taking on new shapes, subsiding in some ways, expanding in others.
Then there are the downright ugly moments.
Love bears the marks of teeth-gnashing agony at times. Resistance to these precious and sometimes wildly dramatic shifts threatens the best of love’s growth and is such a common reaction. The inner seize siege for damage control begins: “Brace yourself, close up, close off, resist, run. Turn away.” But. What we need is a willingness to nurture a vibrant resilience and receptivity, a tender kind of toughness in the face of the more daunting roundy rounds of relating, knowing we’re giving room for the mystery of love to unfold in some of the most unbelievably demanding ways.
But sometimes, we just have to walk away,
sometimes for a season, sometimes for always.
And how beautiful it all is, made more precious by the challenge and more rewarding by the tenacity.
Our scars and the resilient, willful, relentless quirks of soulfulness shape the sculpture that is the great unfolding of person, carving impressions on those we’re responsible for, turning us out into the streets and hills of life and back again to know – in the ebb and flow – whatever we can of the love we can be, the love we can share. We are, when determined to be shaped by love, ultimately grounded in a great steadfastness. We have the opportunity to embody that steadfastness as we stand in love with those we choose.
I am so thankful for the love then and now.