I know the hoopla around Mother’s Day is hard for some people.
For all the millions of reasons that any relationship
gets complicated, Mother’s Day can exacerbate strong feelings.
I have had a perfectly decent Mother’s Day. I heard first from my daughter’s friend, who I love
as another daughter. Then my son. Then later, my girl.
I had a hard time not waiting to hear from them, even though I TRY my best to not have expectations like that.
So, I went to yoga and then turned my compost pile.
It seemed the best response on a day when many people are wearing corsages and being given cards and boxes of candy. I was happy with my compost.
Then a dinner with our boy. I like a in-person event.
My Mom used to say, “It’s a Hallmark holiday. Every day is Mother’s Day. Go thank a mother.”
Here she is handling a snake in Florida.
I never heard the story of this moment in her long life, but I sure wish I could.
I have been looking at this photo for a few months, thinking she was holding a scythe or some other tool. It wasn’t until I scanned and enlarged the photo did I see the SNAKE!
Sometimes stories take a closer look.
Don’t you think?
Call it what you will.
A piece of mine was published over at The Mid.
It’s about my Mom.
Let me know your thoughts.
Today’s post is part of the Moods of Motherhood blogging carnival celebrating the launch of the second edition of Moods of Motherhood: the inner journey of mothering by Amazon bestselling author, Lucy H. Pearce (published by Womancraft Publishing ). Today over 40 mothers around the world reflect on the internal journey of motherhood: raw, honest and uncut. To see a list of the other contributors and to win your own copy visit Dreaming Aloud.
One of the moods of my motherhood at this time of year is impatience
verging at times on hyperventilating dread.
I find the commercial pressure, exacerbated by online highlights of people’s Nutcracking glitter fests, dispenses a toxic tonic of comparison. It is hard to just want to do something funwithout immediately comparing it to something else, like the neighbors decorations or who did what with whom when.
What if we aimed to out do each other in humbleness this season?
What if we aimed to have fun without having to out-wrap, out-shop, out-devout, out-overdo each other until we are each raw nubbins of unpalatable marzipan?
When my daughter, who is a teen and not willing to be represented by a current photograph, was about nine, I thought is was a great idea to go in to New York City to the American Girl Doll store just after the holidays. Her birthday is in mid-November and often squashed by other large-scale events, so this trip worked to celebrate her with something extra special. I shall not fail to mention that I was on a bender with a sinus infection and horrible cough that had brewed all Advent and bloomed at Solstice and ran rampant through Christmas. Just a little holiday bug. This tiny little adventure where I pictured us strolling Fifth Avenue looking at the windows, shopping briefly for a few small items at the American Girl doll store, then wandering downtown for biscotti and tea sounded so very do-able.
Do-able perhaps by a marathon mom who has her gift shopping done in July. Manageable by the sort of person who has name tags printed on ribbon to sew in to the back of t-shirts with their kids name on them well before the summer camp season opens, who complete photo albums by the time their kids leave for college, where the kids will find them packed in to the trunk that sits at the end of their extra-long dorm bunk.
I am not, nor have I ever been, that mother.
I stink at marathons.
But in the face of my child’s joy, I am willing to over-do to a level that compromises my health and sanity. I down the wicked brew of comparative holiday doing and exert myself to extremis. This is who I was as I ankled through masses of shoppers and tinsel draped window displays holding my girl’s hand, which was permanently glued to mine. It is not who I was when I arrived home afterwards.
I learned a hard won lesson on that trip. Perhaps it was during the mad crush of nine-year old girls around the Josefina accessories when I thought, “might this be a little too much for her?” Or maybe when I had to sleep in the closet with my head on rolled up jackets because my cough was keeping our friends and my girl awake in the night? “Too much for me?” Photos of this trip capture us as weary people trapped in a snow globe.
So, at the cost of a few days illness and a girl who really could have done without the hoopla, we emerged wiser. The American Girl Doll store can carry on without our purchases. She was immensely content with the things we ordered for her from the catalog. And we all felt better.
My girl is not one for fanfare. She is one for ritual and regularity.
Not only did I learn that her pleasures and treats need not come with a parade and fireworks, I saw that the way we enjoy things, shopping, learning, gifting, adventuring can happen at a much slower pace than the commercial world would like me to think. I did not have to pitch over in to the zone of hyperventilation or break in to a beady-eyed sweat if I or the small person with me needed to slow down.
The bigger lesson for me in this, though, and my husband gets credit for putting it in to words (blessings on the man who is willing to wade through my exploits and misadventures to come out on the other side with a truism that helps me the next time I consider over-doing),
When you feel compelled to race around this holiday season, take a bath.
When your kids think they must go shopping in a crowded plaza with thousands of other people, divert them with a long walk on a snowy lane with a thermos of cocoa in your knapsack.
Let yourself get caught making gifts, cards or choices that really support your well being. As my friend Sarah says,
“If it feels like too much, then it IS too much.”
I promise if you build this habit of caring for yourself in the greatest season of over-doing and hoopla, you are modeling a gift your children will recall the rest of their lives. Just think: picture them in the future with a kitchen full of kids begging to make a foray in to mall and all that parent can think of is a couch. They will have this sweet recollection of you doing something kind for yourself, like tea and a book in a cozy chair. And they will make a choice that supports their own patience and resilience. Isn’t that a far better gift than anything else?
And no one will end up sleeping in a closet on rumpled up wool jackets. I promise.
Impatience with the pace of the world may be part of my general outlook.
The impatience I feel about the way I handle this busy time is up to me to address.
Self-care builds a much more lush landscape within me. I make much better decisions; plot adventures that support everyone’s needs with ease and joy, and provide time to listen to myself and to the needs of my family.
John O’Donohue says in his gorgeous book Beauty, which you could read in the tub,
” When we devote some calm time to the heart and come off the treadmill of stress and distraction, we can enter into the beauty within.”
I don’t claim to be good at this, but my research in to self-care as a mother continues. I’d love to hear how you navigate impatience during the holidays and what brings you joy at this time of year. Please leave me a comment and do share this post with a friend. A bit of #RampantSisterhood goes a long way.
Congratulations Lucy on once again bringing voice to motherhood. I am delighted to be part of this blogging carnival and eager to get my hands on your book!
For those of you new to Laundry Line Divine, I write about motherhood, the sacred and all things creative here. I run a blog series, Out of the Mouths of Babes, that hosts the work of creative women who are mothers. I have published a collection of this work titled An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice. In her review of this book in Juno Magazine, Lucy wrote, “I have read many anthologies of mothers’ voices in recent years…but this, this is my favourite by far and I know I will return to this slim volume again and again, and that many of this contributor’s words will be carried always with me in my heart.”
I welcome submissions to the Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series which will shift in to high gear in January 2015. Please email me for submission guidelines.
All my very best to you each this holiday season. I will be thinking of you every time I pour a serving of bath salts in to a filling tub.
I am edging towards the four-year anniversary of my mother’s death.
Tomorrow at 6 AM I want to be out in the rain or the moonlight in the morning.
It all pans out to this: starting where I am finds me some times in grief. At others, in joy. And most times, where I start is on the tendon that stretches between those two ecstatic places.
So, I start here.
I spent the middle of today with two of my collaborators at Storm King Sculpture Park across the Hudson. It was a glorious day to be out in the golden light.
View south through Ursula van Rydingsvard’s Luba
Peace by Zhang Huan
another by Zhang Huan
I shared with them the work I have been doing with my Powder Keg Painted Prompt cards. I want to share them with you here.
Pick three words from this collection.
Use them as writing prompts.
What would you write?
Lassies and lads, there are stories backing up here in my studio.
Photos, adventures, ferns unfurling.
And I am sunk in memories of my mother, as spring opens her jacket, loosens her scarf and reveals her tender neck for us to nuzzle. Lilies of the Valley. The last tulips.
Lilacs under this window heavy with rain. The Horse Chestnut tree across the street is laden with its fairy candles.
The simple beauty of this bouquet of lilies of the valley brings my mother in to view and the song White Coral Bells. I found this sweet video of three generations singing.
Below is a bit of writing I did at the Rites of Passage writing workshop for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers in March. Nancy Rothman gave us the prompt of “After you left…”
After the funeral, after you left, when we were sitting in the living room with beers and Chex mix party snacks made from scratch- toasted squares of General Mills goodness seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, then, after that, when you walked away from my confusable aunts who are twins, who my sisters and I look like, who sat on the couch clutching my 13 year old daughter’s hands like she was a balloon not to be let go of, like there was no tomorrow, because in this instant, there wouldn’t be a tomorrow, after you left? Well, really, since you’d died and were tenderly placed in to a hole in the chilled October soil of Escanaba, sandy weeds layered above clay soil unfertile and dense-after that? We ate and drank and all of us, clustered in your living room with photos of us on the bay windowsill next to the plastic flowers you loved in your post-gardening era-after that?
We missed you terribly.
We expected your laugh, your pointing forefinger, the tears rolling down your cheeks and your glasses needing to be wiped. We all missed the you we’d been missing for 8 years since Alzheimer’s came to town. After you left, we nursed and tended and planned and arranged and sang and read and wiped, until, finally and at the last, you left town for good.
We missed you then and more than ever.
After you left….
Thinking of you all while weeding my garden, singing.