Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. And I get to celebrate it, as if I deserve it. As if I am something special. As if I have any right to this privilege of motherhood, or as if I have anything important to offer the little boys that love me inexplicably and unquestionably.
I don’t know why I was given the opportunity to be a mother, when women more deserving than me have struggled to get what I have. Life isn’t always fair. I also don’t know why I get to help little humans navigate this world when I don’t know how to navigate this world perfectly myself.
When I gave birth, I wasn’t suddenly transformed into a woman capable of parenting. I wasn’t forever changed or suddenly worthy. Sure, my feet grew half a size (what is up with that?) but the rest of me was the same. Giving birth didn’t magically morph me into a spectacular human being. Lord knows it definitely didn’t suddenly give me the ability to bake or know what to do with pipe cleaners and construction paper (skills which people actually expect me to possess!). I was the same me on July 30, 2010 as I was on July 28, 2010. Just with bigger feet.
I had a “what now?” moment after The Professor was born, much like other parents reported to me. I was holding The Professor sometime around 2 a.m., listening to Lancelot snore on the pull-out cot in our room, and I was overcome with exhaustion – but I was holding my son. This baby was in my arms, he apparently belonged to me, and I was in charge of what to do with him. I had no idea what to do with him! I didn’t know where to put him to keep him safe, so I decided just to hold him, but not to fall asleep, because that would be dangerous and I didn’t want to kill my baby. I would have held him all night, had my sweet nurse not come in to check on me and give me permission to put The Professor in his bassinet.
That’s when I learned my first lesson of motherhood. I learned that I didn’t have to have all the answers, because there were people around me that could fill in the gaps. I read books and magazines like a sponge, absorbing as much information as I can about sleep schedules and budgeting and discipline and language acquisition. I can learn, and teach. Above all that, I can offer my children my unique perspective on life, my unconditional acceptance, creativity and optimism. There are a lot of things I know I, alone, can offer my children.
When something comes up that I’m not an expert in, I can turn to the women in my life that know more than I do. If I don’t know what to clothe my children with, I have Rachel to point me in the right fashion direction and Lancelot to help me figure out how to pay for it. When I get confused about nutrition and health, Jennifer takes the lead and gives me advice and confidence. When I wonder what Common Core is or how I should go about enrolling my children in school, I have Jen and Tara and Kelly to guide me. I also have to remain sane, so I have my girls. I have Erin and Rachel, Jen and Laura and Krystal, Kristen and Racha and Myra, Karen and Carol and Tara and Kelly and Eva and Nicole and Betty and Shelly and Heather and dozens of other women that have inspired, comforted, encouraged and helped me.
When I don’t know what I don’t know, I look to my sun – my center – my mom. I can call her, text her or swing by to ask her advice. More importantly, I can watch her. She is my real inspiration. She gave me life, and then she gave me everything she knew how to give, and then she learned what else I needed and she gave me that. She continues to give, and she continues to navigate her own life. She continues to find new ways to love my dad and brothers and me, support her own mother and brother and sisters, be an amazing grandmother, and honor her own needs somewhere in the middle of all that giving to others.
My mom loves me as if I deserve to be loved. And so I do the same for my own children, the best I can, as if I have something to offer them.
Maybe I do have something to offer them. I have myself.
Maybe that’s good enough.