Mother's Day isn't an easy day for me to celebrate. There was no class for me to take to score an A on a Motherhood Exam. I met my husband at age 25, got married at age 26, and had our first child at age 28. I had a graduate degree and 3 years at a beloved job. Yet I struggled with confusion and self-doubt, joy and pain.
During my first pregnancy, I struggled with feeling inadequate to this role. I somehow decided that because I constantly lost umbrellas and car keys inside our rental house, it meant that I was too irresponsible to be a mother. I had vivid nightmares of leaving the baby in the carseat on a sidewalk as I went to a Walgreen Drug Store or Big Bear. Pregnancy nightmares are extra vivid. I woke my husband up with dramatic gasps for air after these dreams. I felt a type of stress I didn't feel during Law School or the Bar Exam.
My beautiful baby arrived in March 2003. Thankfully, I didn't forget about her at the Pharmacy or the Grocery Store. We jumped awkwardly and beautifully over the hurdles of newborn life. I was surprised that rather than feeling bored during my 12 week maternity leave, I felt parts of my creative brain "wake up" for the first time since I was in Middle School.
Motherhood has been an intense ride for me. I'm the Mother of 8, 6 of whom are still living. The two sons that I lost before birth are named Francisco and Leo. I don't write about them on this blog, or Facebook. There are no Instragram Pictures. There are no images of their goofy smiles in my memory. Instead, my Instagram Account is lit up with the lively antics of Hannah, Alex, Maria, Teresa, Abigail Clare, and John Jr.
Somehow it seems right on this day to take a rare pause to consider the two boys we lost, and the long, lonely stretch of secondary infertility, and the scary time at Children's Hospital NICU for Teresa and the scary multiple hospital bed rest trips for John Junior, and even the 8 months of combined colic cry festivals.
I'm the first to admit my individual path to Motherhood isn't pretty.
Sometimes, I think the reason that our culture gets so dopey with flowers on this holiday is because an honest conversation about the importance of self-denial, courage, emotional and physical health, and joy that women experience intesne Motherhood seems too intense. It's like we want the Disney Cartoon Version of Motherhood without looking at its current reality.
Motherhood isn't a job. I cared about my clients as a lawyer. I don't drag myself out of a allergy stupor at 10 PM to wash and bleach my client's karate uniform. Pushing "like" on a Facebook post for a friend's athletic event isn't the same as jumping out of my skin with excitment when my reading adverse child sits down with the Lego Movie Novelization voluntarily on a Saturday Morning.
Before Motherhood, I could have written a dissertation about how much I hate the novelization of movies. But that was just my opinion. That feeling was based on how I experienced the world as a child. Actually spending entire lifetimes with my own children has stretched my mind as much as it has stretched my heart. I'm grateful for their cheerful, optimistic and loving presence in my life.
On this day, I salute the many women who have taught me how to mother well. Spiritual Motherhood is a profound gift that is so much bigger than mere biology. Thank you for listening.