Mistakes

Today is Mother’s Day.

This day, perhaps more than any other day of the year carries such varied emotions. For some, it’s joyful, a celebration of the best part of their lives. For others, a reminder of abject failure. Failure in their body, in their lifestyle, in their hearts, in their actions, a woman has so many options when it comes to failing at motherhood. Optimists say motherhood is what you make of it. Realists say motherhood is the hardest job you’ll ever love. Pessimists say it is an impossible expectation placed on women.

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Here’s the good news.

We’re all right.

Motherhood is all of those things.

This week I remembered one of my significant failings as it pertains to motherhood.

Yesterday I read a somewhat cryptic post from a college friend and sent her a private message to see if she was ok. She’s a single mom with four adopted children. Her oldest who is the same age as mine recently got married and will make her a grandmother later this year. Her second to the oldest, a girl just sixteen, gave her a near heart attack last week when she snuck out of a hotel in Orlando to meet a cute boy she just met.  They hung out making paper airplanes. Besides the heart attack, she almost got expelled and learned some valuable life lessons. Thankfully she survived the learning process. Both of them did.

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I was laughingly addressing my younger friend as grandma when I was assailed by a memory. An old memory, rusty, sharp edges, and a bit vague on the details. A very long time ago this friend asked me to write a letter of recommendation for her in an adoption process. For reasons I’ve only recently begun to understand, I couldn’t do this for her. In the end, I also couldn’t tell her no. I wrote from my own fear, loss, and confusion. The adoption did not go through. My heartbroken friend called me, devastated by my knife in her back.

Now, my recollection of the events is hazy at best. It is entirely because of her that we still speak. Her forgiveness was key. It’s only been this past year as I’ve found my birth parents, contacted the children that grew up with them and began meditating that I’ve started to untangle my difficult upbringing. I begin to understand the scared little girl that has run the show for so many years. I’m only now beginning to disarm her.

 

Today I’m thankful for all the mothers I’ve known and haven’t known. I’m grateful for friends who have shown me motherhood that looks very different from mine. I’m thankful for women who share their struggles and speak their stories. It’s through sharing that we learn we are not alone in our struggles or our situation. Through sharing, we connect and are stronger. We are less likely to be felled by ridiculous, shaming  absolutes. We are free to mother in our own style and show how powerful every mother is. woman-happiness-sunrise-silhouette-40192

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15 Comments

  1. I sense a deep regret over that letter. It is good that your friend was able to forgive you and that your friendship remains to this day. Our childhoods can scar us or build us up. Too many people are hurt so profoundly as children. Moving past that is difficult. Carly, I’ve been reading your posts for quite some time now. The picture you have shared allows me to say that you are doing a wonderful job raising your kids. This introspection you’re engaged with is settling some demons and may allow you to become an even better mother, but your goodness shines through regardless of that. Happy Mother’s Day!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Given the amount of random criticism given to mothers by clueless bystanders I can totally sympathize with the “am I doing it wrong” problem and as a human I can totally sympathize with the “why is that scared little girl holding me hostage again” problem (it’s been really bad since dad’s stroke). Hopefully time passes and we all get through these things and meanwhile — however *you* are doing it is just great — you are a wonderful, thoughtful person.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Thank you! I credit the influence of my constant readers and friends online who have really pulled me out the quagmire I started in.
        Forward!
        Happy Mother’s Day Serv…I think you’ve got one of the toughest kids right now!

        Liked by 3 people

    2. I regret I wasn’t able to look outside myself at that time and honor someone’s dream that was not my own.
      I love my kids and I try to be a better mom every day. Some days I win, some days not.
      Thank you!

      Liked by 3 people

          1. It requires an acceptance of who we are and that isn’t always easy. But you are a good woman. You need to start focusing on your strengths and good points. Don’t forget your negatives but work to change them. Little steps.

            Like

  2. My childhood was completely opposite to that of my husbands. When I first met his parents, his mother made the strongest impression. It was like meeting Mrs.Thornton.

    Not that I didn’t learn some from my own mom, but his mother put her children’s best interest 100% first in everything. She wasn’t happy with his choice, but she made our start as easy as possible.

    Was she right to initially oppose me? No, she didn’t know me. Her son and I are still married; he wouldn’t give me up if you offered him Monica Belucci as a trade up. (Although I might. ha ha) She was not happy losing her favorite son and suspicious of any woman she did not know. In hindsight, I can’t blame her, but I understand her sacrifice better now.

    By her example, I learned how important it was for children to always know they come first in your life. For them know they are loved no matter what. That nothing can change the love you have for them. I learned from her to always encourage and nudge them forward in everything they want to do. That there is nothing they cannot accomplish if they wish to. We owe them that secure foundation to help them navigate and succeed in life.

    I saw her happiness light up a room when watching her watch her own children and grandchildren enjoy anything and be happy.

    Years (decades) later, he drives me crazy with his man logic, but I still love her son very much. I know and see how the rest of us benefit by how she raised him with love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oi Mrs. Thornton! I remember the first time I met her!
      You’re making me think I like girls too easy. So far I’ve liked all my son’s girlfriends. Hm. I was nervous to meet my mother in law because I was older than my husband. She took very good care of her boys. I’ll leave it at that until we’re drinking soju at Myung Ga in West Valley City. Woot.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Every mother and grandmother any of the men I casually dated took me to meet, wanted me to marry their son. One poor mother asked me several times if she could start announcing her son’s engagement to me a few times. Okay maybe like 5 or 6 times. So it was a complete shocker when Mrs. Thornton totally blanked me from the first time her son introduced us until a few months later when I finally said something. So you probably aren’t easy about son’s girlfriends, just reasonable.
        🦋
        Married a younger man? Right On! Smart woman you! 🌼

        Well, if you get back behind the Zion Curtain, and want to give me a heads up. We can meet at X-wife’s or somewhere for a drink, or coffee. I’m somewhat easy in the beverage department. I’m usually out of town the last few weeks of July for Comic Con International in San Diego every year though. I’m already a wreak trying to get everything I need to do ready, so maybe a good stiff one now would help relax me. Haha.
        🌷☕️🍷

        Like

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