On Motherhood, On Children

I’ll be the first to admit it.  I fight daily with the little devil on my shoulder.  That being tells me lies.

I feel it so vividly – the tensions of being a stay at home mom, a lack of validation in the culture at large for motherhood or stay at home parents, and the voice inside me telling me almost every day “It’s not enough! Do more, be significant, something special.”  A lot of my poetry recently has come out of that place.

God has reminded me, for some reason, of the truth that we never know whose mother we are — in that we don’t know who our children will become. If we knew that our sons or daughters, nieces or nephews, would grow up to be the next Barack Obama, or Madeleine L’Engle, Joan Chittister, or Scot McKnight, or Michelangelo, whomever, would we look at parenting, at mothering, differently?

They all had mothers.

Fathers.  Aunties and Uncles.

Your role in the life of a child is a role that only you can fulfill even though most days you likely consider it insignificant.

This post was inspired in some part by reading this.

Three Simple Words

I am broken.  I’ll be quick to admit that about myself. It is no use trying to hide it.  And that is in some part what my blog is about — hoping that I can help someone else.

Most of my adult life has been spent sorting out my broken heart while trying not to let everything fall to pieces.

Eighteen years we’ve been married — I am his second wife.  They’ve been beautiful, and hard, and just yesterday he held my hand, rubbing it tenderly.  And said, “I want you.”  Even so — sitting in the car today with my fingers drumming on the steering wheel, while I wait for the red light to change, — as she says those three simple words my heart hurts.  And my head is spinning.  I knew it!

“Grandma misses Mary.”

His mom.  His ex-wife.  My daughter, innocently trying to sort out who loves whom.  “Do you like Mary, Mom?”

I am quiet.

“Are you mad?”

“Thoughtful.” I say after carefully considering my words, “No, not mad.”  Because I am more than that simply mad, or even shocked — It is so complicated.  My daughter has no idea.  She says, “I always thought I wasn’t supposed to like Mary.”  And, “Molly did too.”  And then I am angry.  Enraged at what feels so unfair. — I tried so hard to be a “good” step-mom.

And I wasn’t.  Good at it – being a step- an other.  I was petty. And fearful. And controlling.  Today, I know how lucky we are, that my step-daughter, Molly, loves me anyway.

But there is nothing step- about her.  She is all mineMy child.  And yet she is Mary’s child too.

Now Molly is an adult, and these scary and awkward moments that used to invade life with such regularity rarely come up.

Loyalties and love — who’s supposed to love whom — I just try not to think about it.  But, there it was.  The words spoken.  What I knew.  I just knew my mother-in-law still loved Mary.  And misses her.

And why does that hurt so badly? Should it? No.

I felt the air sucked out of my lungs. My heart ached, physically.  I was once again afraid of what it all means.  I know that I am so poor at loving others.  I don’t know what they need.  I fear rejection and fear others’ apathy toward me.  And so, I become apathetic.  I pretend there are no feelings.

I don’t call my husband’s parents.  I don’t initiate in any way.

I don’t even know how to love my own mother and sisters, and mostly do that all wrong; much less know how to love my husband’s parents, since after all I am their second daughter-in-law.  I know they still love her.

I don’t know how to love them, except perhaps to love him.  And love their grandchildren.  Even that — I fearI know, I don’t do very well.

I am broken.  And yet, still — I — know — I am loved.  Religious people questioned why Jesus would hang out with the people that he did and he said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

Jesus, I need you.  I am sick.  Help me to love everyone in my life, just as you love me.