On Being a Mother

My sons came home for the holidays. They always do regardless of where they are. I’m grateful for this. They are amazing men. They gave me the reason to mother them and so many others.

I was told from early on that the likelihood of me bearing children was minimal. The older I got the less the chances. So I showed the doctors that I don’t take no for an answer. I had Nelson at 20. Patrick at 22. Several miscarriages and lots of health issues didn’t stop me from bringing these two souls into this world.

We grew up together. I was a single mom for a long while with them. When I left their father he ran the opposite direction and never saw them again. We nurtured each other. We grew up learning the ins and outs of parenting.

These boys taught me unconditional love, patience, letting go, humor, and how to be a conscious soul through a very human experience. Their love for me and each other has been magical.

When I began adopting children they never complained. They opened up their hearts and shared their home with little strangers. My sons, not once, asked me to please stop. They never felt jealous or pushed aside. And even now with two little ones at home all I witness is unconditional love and tenderness. They are my heroes.

They go back home today. This mama heart is tender this morning. I will miss their pure intelligence and intellectual conversations. Their laughter. Their own banter that’s hysterical most of the time. I will miss their inspirational and motivational pep talks to me about how I need to be sharing more stories and creating a forum for the world to learn from One another. They are techie. I’m not and they show me this and that…sending loving thoughts while challenging me to think outside of my comfort zone.

My head starts to feel overwhelmed but they truly are looking out for my best interest.

You know when you recognize your job as a good parent? When your grown children want to come home and just be with you. I’ve done my best and they’ve exceeded any kind of desire I’ve had for them as adults. Happiness comes out in every laughter and tear. Every touch and hug reminds me that I’ve been so deeply blessed with love. True love without ever judging or criticizing my choices. And I have done the same for them.

Be gentle with your children. Allow them to do whatever they need to do in order to learn and evolve. It’s not our jobs to get in their way. Our only job is to be there to love. And love is all there is….

Monsters

Car conversation with a 4 year-old early in the morning…
Kali: do monsters have bellies?
Me: monsters don’t exist.
Kali: do they have eyes?
Me: they don’t exist so they don’t have anything.
Kali: do they have mouths?
Me: Kali, monsters aren’t real. It’s a made up thing for television and entertainment.
Kali: They do exist. Do they have necks?
Me: Monsters aren’t real.
Kali: YEESSSSS they are.
Me: In a philosophical way… yes. They are real. There are bad people out there. But they didn’t start bad. They started with love. They came into this world with light and someone blew it out.
Kali: Why people create monsters then?
Me: (sighing….and then a mini rant longer than I can remember) Baby girl, monsters do exist. I’m sorry. They exist in anger and hatred. They exist in mental disorders and they are there to corrupt our world. They are fabricated in religions and stories to fill doubt in others. They instill fear and oppression but it’s mostly there for a lot of growth and balance. Where there is light there is also darkness. So, they do exist in a metaphoric term but not in a way you are thinking of when you watch television. That’s also there to create anxiety and despair. We live in a society that uses control mechanism through fear based subjects…and “monsters” are one of those ways. They don’t have giant heads and distorted bodies.
She then asked about Kali the Destroyer. Her daddy told her about Kali, the Hindu Goddess, and how she has the same name. He went on to tell her about her history the other day. She recited bits and pieces of what daddy told her. I was surprised she got a lot of it spot on. She wanted to know if she was a monster since she’s depicted with her tongue sticking out at times. I answered to the best of my ability.
Kali: so you see, they do exist, Mama!  Do they have tongues? Not Kali…she’s not a monster, right? But the rest of the monsters, do they have tongues?
Me: ugggghhhhh… silence.

I am BEing

I was dropping Kali at school this morning when she began to run towards the door, “Mama, I’m gonna win you!”

I watched her little body running against the morning wind, her curls being pushed back, the dark skin against the hot-pink tank top…oh my gosh…she was lovely. My heart reached my throat and I thought: “how precious! She’s beautiful. She’s magnificent. Look at her soul so carefree. She’s mine.”

How did I get here? At this age? I was done having children. I was going to travel and explore the world. Here I am not just with a four year old but on the ledge of getting a one-and-a-half by the time he gets here. But, that’s how we show up to life. We stop planning. We just go with the ebb and flow. We push through the unknown.

Kali waited for me to get to the door, “You are so slow, Mama!”

Indeed I am…I am slow in arriving. I am slower than any other time in my life because I want to savor every minute of these moments. I want to feel them. I want to honor them. I want to keep remembering why I am all the things that make me compassionate and loving. Because of these children…mine and others’. This is how I’m arriving into almost everything in my life. I’m slowly falling into my roles as a mother, a wife, a woman and a human. My time here is slowly revealing my most intimate purpose. I’m no longer running from (or towards) anything. I am simply BEing.

**photo from a few weeks ago as she played on the beach talking to the seashells. She kept saying it was “my favorite day with you, Mama!”

Open Heart

And there…in the school parking lot I broke. The flood gates opened. I sobbed. I was overcome by grief and anger like I hadn’t in a long time. Frustration hit my core and I felt my heart being pulled in every direction. For hours, since early morning, I had been fighting a migraine. I rarely get them. I had taken plenty of Tylenol but it had been nagging and I knew there was an underlined monster coming to visit. There, in an empty church lot, about to drop my kiddo at daycare, I allowed it all to come undone. 

Her silence broke eventually. “What’s wrong, Mama?”

“I’m sad and angry!” I said softly in between deep inhales and exhales.

“For my baby brother?”

“Part of it. Other parts too!” I kept seeing flashes of my daughter, Kali’s mother, doing what she’s not suppose to do. The anger kept pushing through and I stopped myself from it all until I could get Kali in school and I could leave. 

“I’m sorry, Mama. It’s gonna be okay!” She said from her car seat.  I got out, unbuckled her, and she gave me a giant tight hug. I stood there, her legs wrapped around my torso, holding my daughter’s daughter. Holding a precious gift she gave me and another one about to arrive into our arms. There, I stood holding my lifeline and hers while she kissed my cheeks. My heart grew wider. This parenting business is not easy…ever. 

“I’m gonna be okay, Kali Bug. I am having a bad morning. That’s all.” I looked at her. Her own eyes filled with tears. She feels hard. She knows beyond her years. But, she doesn’t really know the sorrow of her past, or how her birth mother is mentally ill and has intellectual disabilities; how I adopted her mother from a Romanian orphanage at the age of 9; how her mother won’t rationalize or understand the trail of damage she keeps leaving behind. She gives birth to a third child this week. She turns 28 on Friday. Kali doesn’t know of any other mama. She only sees me. She only understands our love…and that she has a new baby brother arriving soon. She doesn’t ask where he’s from. She doesn’t care. 

She only knows love. Her life is fully integrated with it. We make sure of it…every single day.

“I know, Mama. You always okay.” She gave me a thumb’s up. I dropped her and she waited by the glass door until I threw kisses before getting in the car. We do this every single morning. She counts to see how fast I am until I get out to the car and then I throw kisses with my hands and she catches them from inside. Today I threw my heart at her…and she caught in for safe landing. And, that’s all I needed her to do.

Lost and Found

Yesterday my husband built a crib for the new baby. Kali has been anticipating this moment. It was a huge deal for her to help her daddy build the crib for her baby brother. She’s nesting in a way a pregnant woman nests for months before the big arrival. She was filled with such joy. She had to decorate it. She needed it to be “perfect!” And she would say over and over, “I’m so excited for my baby brother!” She’s four years old and I am aware how age means nothing when love is concern.

I stood watching the two of them build, re-adjusting to a life that’s coming. In the middle of the night, when she got up three times, I remembered the many nights of sleep deprivation. And then I saw my children grown, one who turns 23 years old tomorrow. The range of ages is from 30 down to 1 years old. How does this happen? It appears and morphs as God’s plan. I said from very young that I would have a house full of kids. It was a desire, a dream to be a mom. And my purpose here is to mother as many as possible and not just in my home. When I had six children living under the same roof there were extras who would move in…teenagers going to college, friends of friends, and so on. The house was never without children. They somehow found me and I was joyous to show up for them.

The building of the crib was monumental for Kali Rose. I saw in her the same emotions I’ve had with all my kiddos. I am witnessing a soul who just wants to be a mother to others. She wants to give love, share the love and be the love. She finds the ones who need it and makes them smile. Her daddy did such an amazing job putting it together while she declared when it was done, “I did such a great job building my baby brother’s bed.” We laughed. She told me, as they were working diligently, that I could only watch from the door. I was not to come in and help. She was the helper. And, I believe she will be an amazing helper to the world as she’s showing up, being available, and loving to the full of her capacity. She is like her mom, collecting the lost and found, making sure they recognize their worth.

Isn’t that what we are here to do? ~m.a.p.

Mothers

What constitutes being a mother? There are women who have no children, yet they are amazing mothers to others. There are women who have chosen to mother themselves and set examples of nurturing out for others to follow. Some have made sacrifices and choices through painful lessons. And, YET, they get no recognition for being who they are in our society.

You are a mother when a friend is in need and you drop everything to help her, hold her hand during a crisis, and bring therapy in a bottle. You are a mother when your children need their laundry done and they can do it themselves but “Mom does it better!” You are mother to an elderly neighbor who has no one and cherishes each moment you spend with them. You are a mother to your dog, cat and sweet pets that wait anxiously for you to come home and love them. You are a mother to your mate when exhaustion fills the air and a soft caress is all you can give to show your nurturing. You are a mother to the stranger who needs a smile and you graciously hand yours (even when you are having a bad moment). You are a mother at 15, 22, 35, 46, 58, 65, 79, and 90 each time someone shares their sorrow or their joys with you. No, you don’t have to have children to be a mother. You are a mother for the world. You are a woman of strength, joy, and tenacity. You overcome so much every single day.

Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all you deliciously beautiful souls who are here with me. You totally rock! I am blessed to partake in the journey with you. I love you.

Entryway

The outside of your door

still smells like you,

as I hold the knob

and then let go…

I cannot go into your space

just yet.

I cannot clean or visit

the things you left behind

in turmoil,

chaos,

and pandemonium.

This still seems surreal —

a bad nightmare

full of confusion

as it took me by surprise

even when I foresaw the outcome

so very long ago.

You are gone

to a place I cannot reach for a while.

But,

here behind the door

sits your life

the way you left it

and it’s okay to allow

the memory cells

to reside there.

Time has a way of moving

even the static

that was left between us both.

You will always have

the love

that you rejected

as a safety net

to return to the four walls

behind this small entrance.