I define my life in two parts. Before I became a mother, and after. It sounds obvious right? I mean, of course, it changes you. Motherhood turns your entire world upside down and leaves you standing in a room full of crushed up cheerios and spilled juice, likely standing in the same pajamas you’ve been in for 3 days, unsure of the last time you brushed your teeth or even put on deodorant. But there it is. Your beautiful mess. And that is exactly what it is, isn’t it? A beautiful mess. First, you checked your dignity at the door when an entourage of people came into your hospital room, while you get all sassied up in your hospital gown fanciness. You don’t really care who sees your house that looks like it was a college frat house with dishes and god knows what else in the kitchen. The laundry is thrown wherever and you’re really not sure what is clean or dirty anymore. There’s a good chance you didn’t eat dinner but you did manage to have a half eaten piece of cake the neighbors brought to welcome your sweet little bundle of joy. A beautiful mess. Your beautiful mess. Because somehow the tidy house, the perfectly planned dinners, the neatly folded laundry, all of it falls away and the only thing you can do is focus on the most amazing little gift you have in your arms. Staring and studying each part of them – amazed that this is now your job. Even those of you that aren’t the sappy type – you’re smittened too.
I remember after I had Jackson a few months later I was sitting in the rocking chair looking at him trying to remember my life before him. What was important to me? What did I do every day? What was it that kept me moving? Living? Loving? Yes, there were friends and family, and college and even my Masters education – but it was hard for me to really remember what I believed my purpose was. About a half hour later, it was clear to me. In that moment, running my fingers gently across his sleepy little face, wondering what he was dreaming about, memorizing every eyelash, every piece of hair, ever faint little smile. That it was. It was no surprise but I had finally understood those dreams were finally real. This is my purpose.
If you’ve read my about me section you know I always wanted to be a Mom. Like, in my blood, always wanted to be a Mom. At 25 I was the first of my friends, (except my girl, Lis!) to have kids – and certainly the first out of any of my high school friends. I was watching the clock to see how long his last feeding had been while most of my friends were watching the clock to see how much longer until last call. I was young, people! I had been a nanny for years, was a teacher at the time, always had a lot of younger cousins running around – truly surrounded by the blessings of children, all the time. But when I found myself staring at my own little boy, I knew there would be not bigger job, no bigger shoes to fill, no bigger gift in this life, than to be someones Mother. Right about at that moment…the panic set in! I am responsible for this person! Ho.ly.Cow! Like, I have to teach him life lessons, skills, manners, everything? Lucky for me, his sweet little face flashed me a ‘while-he-was-sleeping- smile,’ as if to say, ‘we’re in this together, Mom,’ and it broke my anxiety. I kissed his soft little cheeks and was washed over with a feeling of peace. He chose me. He picked me. He wanted me to be his light-leader – his guider – his teacher. That was enough to fill my anxiety ridden soul. At least for a little while.
Before I was a Mother, and specifically a nanny and a teacher, I knew it all. My kids were never going to have M&M’s as a bribe. They were never going to be rude or throw food on the floor, or get up from the table without using their manners, or interrupt people, or steal something they weren’t supposed to have, or not pay attention to whoever was speaking to them. They were never going to go to school with food on their face or dirt under their nails. They were not going to wear clothes that looked like they had been through an all day obstacle course. They definitely were never going to go to school without their homework done and done right. None of it. Not my kids! …Oh to be naive! I wish so desperately I could apologize to every parent I may have silently judged! For all those times I was mentally noting in my head; my future kids were never going to do that! I never would have said anything out-loud, but boy, let me tell you, was there judgement in my late teens and early twenties! Why were these parents letting their kids get away with this stuff? If only I had known. I suppose the saying is true, you get wiser with age. It is a similar feeling that you get now that you’re an adult when you see a struggling high school student. You look at them and don’t you just want to hug them and say say, “honestly, this really won’t matter in your life. I know it feels big now, but it really isn’t going to be on your radar in 10 years.” Of course, we all know, that falls on deaf ears and until you go through it, you never really know. Just like motherhood. If only my young self could have had some grace for the struggles the parents were having! I suppose hindsight is 20/20 after all. (But, I would like to formerly apologize to anyone I sent a negative judgmental thought to!)
And so, here we are – now, with a sister in tow – two years apart -they really are the best of friends. I am still here as their teacher, the manner enforcer, the boo-boo kisser, the homework helper, the chef, the taxi driver, the peace maker and the referee. But I have learned over the last 7 and a half year I am also the student. The learner, the one who is often reminded to give grace and second chances. To dance in the kitchen. To play tag at the beach. To laugh and love with all that you can because really, that’s all we really have. To remember this time is limited and really to celebrate the joys rather than the struggles. That the stressful days and trying attitudes are just their ways of reaching out for more love. Their sassiness and know-it-all responses can sometimes open windows to our heart that share more about ourselves than about them. In recent months I have tried to greet the days with a more open heart and less drill Sargent talk. More laughter and flexibility than strictness and – because-I-said-so. So wouldn’t you agree? This crazy, stressful, hysterical, bumpy, terrifying journey called Motherhood is simply that, a beautiful mess. A beautiful mess I am so incredibly grateful to be in. Beyond grateful I had my own beautiful mess teacher – My Mom – to guide me with such grace and love. For that, I will be eternally grateful.
On this Mothers day I hope you celebrate your gifts, your blessings and take the time to soak it in. After all, they did choose you for one of the most amazing honors of your life. Don’t forget that. You are their everything.
Wishing you the most amazing Mothers Day and everyday.
In love and light,
Lisa - Keri, this is wonderful. I wasn’t expecting to be weeping first thing this morning, but you hit me right in the heart and gave me such a warm glow. You are an amazing mother and friend and I am so blessed to have you in my life. Your children will be that love and light that extends from you. xo