I'll never forget the first Mother's day after my Mom died. Well, I mean, I'll never forget the first anything after my Mom died; Christmas, my birthday, her birthday, walking through the mall, french fry eating, church service attending, hearing her favorite songs, hearing my favorite songs, seeing roses bloom, breathing. That first Mother's day after she was gone, I couldn't figure out what was wrong with everyone. Everyone. They were all so mean. Cruel. Every human on the planet desperately wanted to rub salt right in my bloody wounds. How very selfish of them all. Stupid Hallmark ads. Stupid Target ads. Stupid flowers. Stupid. All of it. Everything. I hated it. It was me against the world baby and the only way to face the world alone when the world is being so mean is to be mean right back. Clothe thyself in bitterness and resentment and be mean and then you shall survive. That's in Proverbs somewhere but I don't have time to look it up right now.
A couple years later I gave birth to my firstborn, Ezekiel Jacob. Nothing like a firstborn. Your heart is ripped right out of your chest forever more and nothing softens you to the world like having your heart ripped out of your chest. I heard God whisper, "not quite so mean anymore is she, the world?" Like all good Moms, God was enjoying her 'I told you so' moment. I kissed that fresh-never-seen-the-light-of-day-before skin and I knew I'd have to be kinder to the Earth and everything in it from that day forward. Life and God had won me over to the world and her beauty again. My son had been born and I had been reborn.
Then I brought him home from the hospital. Reality is such a party pooper. Nothing puts a damper on your revolutionary life moments quite like life itself. Staying at home in a teeny tiny house all day every day as a twenty-one year old brand new mother was hard. And I couldn't even call my Mom to say, "how the HELL do I do this?" or "can you come do this FOR me?" I didn't know myself yet let alone had I even begun to love myself so how was I supposed to sacrificially love a brand new perfectly innocent human being every waking and non-waking moment of my life? Every new fad telling me how best to raise a child or throw a birthday party raked me right over the coals of guilt, shame, self-doubt, and utter hopelessness. And we didn't even have Pinterest yet. That's the thing about rebirth though, right? You can't just be reborn once. Every. Day. Of. Your. Life. Have to. Life is too hard for just one big eye opening, heart softening, love revolution moment. Need 'em every damned cracker crumbs crushed into the carpet, poop on my arms, three kids in tears at once, all out of milk at the worst time, had to apologize to the kids for the way I talked to them, watched too much t.v. day.
The thing is when I think about my Mom I don't just think about how she used to send pink roses to my classroom for me on my birthday every year or how she used to tell me that it was always okay to cry because sometimes we just need to cry or how she'd play with my hair when I was stressed and she'd keep running her fingers through my hair until I could no longer remember what I was even stressed about. I don't just think about every good and perfect thing about her and my relationship with her. I also think about the days she didn't know what I was saying to her. I think about how I screamed at her. I think about how selfish I always thought she was being when she was sick and how now in hindsight I can clearly see how wrong I was. I think about the things she never talked to me about and how I can't imagine a Mom not talking to her daughter about those things. I think about her death. I think about her sick body and her lifeless body. I think about her funeral and that empty, hopeless feeling of seeing her coffin lowered into her grave. Life is all of that, birth and death and everything in between and when I think about my Mom's life, I think about it all and it hurts and on Mother's day it hurts. Even with these four precious and perfect in every way souls I'm raising who still think I'm perfect too. Even with them and their kisses and tantrums and sweet showering with me smells and poopy diaper smells and their hugs and their kicks and their lego messes and their helping me clean and thanking me for everything I do for them, even with all the goodness and messiness of being a Mother, Mother's day still hurts.
So, I say "Happy" Mother's day. "Happy" Mother's Day to every Mother who has returned from that hospital stay without a baby in her arms. "Happy" Mother's day to every child wishing she could hug her Mom and thank her one last time. "Happy" Mother's day to every woman who feels shamed by our culture for her lack of desiring to ever be a Mother. Mother's day is not just a day of celebration but also of mourning and we can all celebrate the beauty and mourn the pain of Motherhood together because not one of us entered this Earth without the womb of a Mother and Mother Earth nourishes us and sustains us and gives us life every day and Mother God holds you to her chest every second of your life from birth to death and thereafter.