Mother's Day

My gift from Laurel. She
was so excited to give it to
me and I love it.
Sunday morning I was awake at the very first light. I don't mean the sunrise, but long before that, before even the first bird songs, when the darkness of the sky shifts ever so slightly to gray, and you can imagine the end of night coming. I was sleeping in the back of our SUV with Max, which sounds horrible to every single person I ever tell, but is actually really comfortable. The seats fold down and it's pretty much flat and firm. M was in the tent with the other kids. We were camping with our neighbors, who have two kids. Other than that, there weren't too many people at the campground this weekend. It rained for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. It was dark, dark, dark.

I spend most nights in the well-lit city though, so even enjoying camping as much as I do, it can be unnerving to experience the darkness of the forest in the middle of the night. Max is five months old today, and wakes up several times at night to nurse, but last night I had no diversions to see me through these night feedings. No Facebook to scroll through, no Atlantic stories bookmarked in my browser. (Once I even placed a grocery order in the middle of the night.)

It's good to have some time to think, and especially on Mother's Day. Motherhood has been this hugely transformative force in my life these last 7 years. It's not easy all the time, but it has become a role that I find deeply fulfilling. And this is perplexing to me, because all the "doing" of motherhood is repetitive, messy crap that gets undone quickly, that mostly goes unnoticed by others and is highly undervalued in our society. The other tasks of raising up children...teaching kindness and empathy and conflict resolution....you can't actually be very successful at them if you set out to them "right." It's actually a lot more effective to just strive to do them well yourself. They will see. They see everything. At the end of the day, I have little tangible evidence of my work. I was me. I swept crumbs. How is it that I am so happy doing it and that it feels so worthwhile to be doing it?

I've written about this before, but motherhood feels like I am on a stage, constantly watched and imitated. As the children gain language they experiment with my phrases, with my tones. Their play mimics my work. My missteps are reflected back immediately by the expressions on their faces. But on the other hand, they are not growing up to BE me. I can't really make them be any kind of way. Admitting that lack of control over them is both freeing and terrifying.

Our camping trip - our first with Max - went well. We found sites at Ohiopyle that had a little creek flowing behind them so the kids had someplace to play. I brought just enough changes of clothes for Marko. Nobody seems to have gotten poison ivy, miraculously because it was everywhere. We had a really nice hike along the river and saw a water snake and tadpoles and tons of spring wildflowers. And my mother's day wish was fulfilled when we managed to get a photo with all five of us in it!

1 comment:

Mary McKinley said...

I enjoy hearing about your maternal adventures. It's obviously a vocation that you embrace and relish. And then, of course, you have such an entertaining cast of characters. See you soon, Love, Mary