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….

Letting Love Live

This morning I had a memory of the first time I was stung with uncensored and unconditional love. I’m sure I had hundreds, or perhaps thousands of moments, but that evening seemed to stand out loudly.

My husband and I had been dating for a few months. I spent the night at his place. We had made love and only a candle lit the room. He had fallen sleep on his stomach. I turned over and saw him. The light from the candle enhanced his back muscles. I gasped. He was beautiful. I looked at his bare back in pure delight. Tears formed and I allowed for their release. He was sound asleep. I became very aware that he was mine, for however long that would be, and he was lovely. Not just because of his body but his sense of humor. I was falling in love. I was falling into a known territory that felt remarkably unfamiliar to all others.

I traced my fingers on his back softly following the shadows. He woke and turned over to his side while I kept rubbing him with my nails. At some point I fell into a slumber wrapped by his arms. The next morning as I drove the hour and twenty minutes home, I kept thinking of that moment that allowed me to fall so profoundly that every cell in my body felt the expansion of love. I literally felt a huge break in my chest.

Then I started to freak out. I felt I was losing myself. How could I? I’ve done this dance many times before. I had given all of me for years and not been reciprocated but what amazing lessons I had learned. I regret not a one!

As I watched the stretch of mountains ahead my heart felt a tingle and a pull. I was safe to fall. I was safe to rise towards the delight of being me…my authentic self without censoring from a man. The sun was rising over the landscape and I knew I had permission from the heavens to just feel the love that was to grow. I remember this many years later. I remembered it this morning as I watched him sleep in his stomach bundled under warm blankets.

Driving over the mountains that morning I recalled twenty years before when I was dating a lovely man. After we made love I fell asleep in his arms. Sometime after that I woke to him watching me sleep and the blinds wide open. He said, “The moon looks beautiful on your back. It makes your freckles look like stars!” He meant every syllable of that sentiment.

I buried my head on the pillow in embarrassment. I had a hard time taking in any kind of compliment.

I had never been seen…Or so I felt. He saw me. And when he died a year later a part of me died with him. Now noticing my new lover and his divine essence naked in front of me I felt all the love in the world that had been given, shared and exchanged. I felt it intensified and released in my soul. It wasn’t just a physical or emotional connection. It was a spiritual one.

At midlife I was finally me without apologizing.

And I allowed for all that was to come. He was mine then. He continues to be mine now. It has taken a tremendous amount of work and dance to stay in that love but it’s been so worth it. Because that’s what marriage entails. We are on the other side of that mountain of uncertainty and doubts. We are led by stars and candlelight through the darkest of obstacles.

We are in it because of the raw vulnerability from one another. We show up not always in perfect lighting. It’s in the unmade beds, crazy sleepless nights with kids, messy days, hard obstacles, little moments and unconditional love without judgment. It’s real life naked and fully clothed behind closed doors. I’m blessed.

Struggles…

Many years ago…12 to be exact…I was experiencing a struggle with my eldest daughter. She arrived into my life at the age of 11-1/2 from Romania. And with her came a lot of secrets and demons. She suffered from multiple personalities and deep wounds. There was no way to reach her regardless of all the love and security I provided. At the age of 18, finishing high school, she plotted to hurt me and some other family members. The heartache those days was immense. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced up to that moment in my life.

My son’s friend’s mother came over to get him one day. I shared my struggle through tears and heartbreak. She took me aside (a woman who truly didn’t know me that well even though our boys were super close) and she shared a personal story about her eldest son. She told me, while holding me, that sometimes we had to let go in order to continue helping our other children. Up to that moment I didn’t know anyone who had undergone things that broke the mama heart that profoundly. Whether it was addiction, mental illness, or whatever…I had not known someone personally who was navigating through similar experiences.

I listened to her. She had been at this for years. I felt her own release in that conversation. I listened so much that, now 12 years later, I can still remember her words of wisdom. This woman just lost her son a few days ago. That said son who was struggling with his own demons. And as I write this I swear my heart breaks even deeper. A parent should never, ever, have to do what she’s had to do this week. I know he’s finally at peace. She does too but there is always the uncertainty of how much we did or didn’t do to fix and save our loved ones. The doubts creep up and we are consumed by the unknown of it all. It’s hard to decipher what is real and what is not. Guilt and shame are familiar emotions that push the grief up. It’s all part of healing and letting go.

I know without a shadow of a doubt, that when someone has these struggles the only thing you can do for them is hold space. The loss is inexplicable. It’s unreal and I cannot imagine how my friend is holding herself up this week. So I pray and send loving light to her and her family since she’s not near me (although I wish I was with her at the moment). I keep meditating and hold her heart in mine. No one knows what another endures…not what she had to do for her son, not what I’ve had to for my own children. We have little windows we show to the world, but behind closed doors and blinds the truth of it is quite different. I am blessed to have had her 12 years ago to help me navigate my own grief, shame and guilt because I was completely lost. I had to let my daughter go. I had to love her from afar and continue to do so daily because she refuses the love. In the end I had to put my energy into those in my house who were willing to receive the love and security. And it continues…

That’s all we are asked to do: love and serve those who receive it (who are willing to accept it). We can’t fix or help those who don’t want it. It’s like hitting yourself against a giant boulder while the ocean smashes against you over and over. It’s pure insanity.

I love you, my dear friend. You know who you are…you will always be the words of wisdom when I struggle through my own little demons of guilt for not doing more…. I am here!!!!!

Motherhood


This little bit of a person reminded me yesterday about independence and the constant weaving of holding on and letting go. We sat on my son’s porch waiting for them to get home. It was cold. I sat there listening to her tell me about the trees and how they are asleep. We talked about the clouds. We shared thoughts on dogs. And the entire time a cool crisp wind kept reminded me of change. She told me she was big now and didn’t need to be on my lap although I explained that I was cold and needed her warmth. Then she said I should have gotten a jacket at home. I laughed hard. My boys came home finding me giggling with the pure realization that motherhood seems to be the only job I can do with joy and laughter and so many other deep emotions. And in this job there is a flux of transformations always checking for giving and receiving, allowing and accepting, moving and staying put. I thought I was done with these lessons…and then this little bit came along to surprise the plans out of me!

Gifts of Love

tutus

I have been an avid student of all my children. Each one has taught me something I didn’t know I had in me, imagined I could do, would want to do, and so much more. My middle daughter’s mental challenges changed me. Her bipolar disorder also enriched my perceptions. I have been turned upside down, right-side up, yet enlightened in ways I can never express. Living with mental illness is a day to day wave and all you can do is surf it without restraints or expectations. When she arrived into my life at the age of 9 from Romania, I knew my life would never be the same. I have witnessed tenacity, perseverance, disorder, disarrangement, and complexity in myself. Our mirrors have reflected personal issues that I wouldn’t have addressed at other times in my life. I have been pushed to learn things of the human spirit I didn’t even know existed. She has taught me the meaning of unconditional love, surrendering, acceptance, forgiveness, grace and patience. I am not a patient person and she has been the button-pusher of constant reminding how much I can tolerate. I am always shocked by how much I can endure and where the lines are drawn.

My daughter, in her struggle for understanding while living with severe anger and mental disorders, has gifted me with the most precious experience of all. She has given me a child, my granddaughter, to raise again as a child of my own. I hope this seventh child will make the rest of this journey magical. This little girl has reshaped my reality. She has allowed me to throw all plans out the door. My daughter is very present inside of this little girl and I marvel at the preciousness of another generation teaching me more about life and myself. I am aware at this love that I wasn’t expecting in this time in middle years.

The mind is our most priceless commodity. It creates, modifies, regenerates, releases, and forces us to see past the boundaries of time and space. My daughter has taught me to love fiercely in a way that I didn’t know was available. She is not capable of understanding many of the issues that created the loss of permanency for raising her daughter. Her dissociative identity disorder does not permit her mind to see normalcy and stability. She will forever be stuck at 13 years of age. The older she gets the more noticeable it becomes. But, she’s taught me to see the exceptions to all the rules.

Recently while I held this two year old in my lap I told her what I say every day, “I love you, sweetheart.” She immediately responded as a matter of fact, “I know.”

My husband and I laughed out loud and she returned the giggles in exaggerated form. She has brought tremendous light into our home. I am grateful for this journey. I never imagined it in a million years. There are days I don’t think I will survive another childhood but then love is seen through the eyes of a sweet baby girl and I know that God is staring right at me. Who else is gonna join me to dance with tutus and tiaras? Who else will sit and listen to fairy tales and stories of unicorns and wizards? This journey is a pure gift of love!

Brotherly Love

brothers

If there is ever a doubt in my heart about how I’ve raised my kids I think the Universe allows me to witness firsthand the fruits of my labor.  Motherhood has never been easy.  Parenthood is one of those professions that have no real manual (at least I never got a copy). Each child is different and  guidance is specially designed to that soul.  We are melted and molded together in a kaleidoscope called family.

My eldest son was leaving yesterday back to NYC after spending 10 days here.  Even though he got to spend almost every evening with his brother who is 2 years younger, he still wanted to stop by his work one more time and say goodbye on the way to the airport.  It was pouring down rain.  He got out to see him at the hotel where he works.  His brother followed him back to the car to kiss me and say hello.  They stood in the rain once again, two brothers embracing and saying their “I love you’s.”

 

When I see that sibling love and respect it melts my heart.  They speak every day.  The older brother has always been the fatherly role to his brother. To witness their adulthood still close as little boys…well….it is heartwarming. With pride in my heart I take a tiny bit of credit for their closeness, always making sure they solved the rivalry and fights teenagers go through growing up.  I did what I could in spite of so many difficult factors and environmental stressors.  They are each others’ best friends.  The older they get the closer they become.

Once again I collect this moment as a beautiful one adding it to the many magical ones of motherhood.  Watching them stand close to each other and support their decisions, well what more can a mother ask for in this union?   They are pure love and light!

If you want to know (or have confirmations) of your parenting skills watch your children interact with one another or with others.  Manners, respect, love, and empathy are born from childhood.  Give yourself a huge pat on the back.  You got this.  You taught them well…and the rest has been the grace of God.

Pulling a Miracle

miracles

Our only car broke down yesterday down the mountain.  Matt was driving slowly when the right side ball joint came off.  Last year around this time the other side came off in a parking lot.  Both times the Divine has been with him in that he wasn’t driving fast or on the highway.  We are always taken care of in the way that suits our lessons and pushes the evolution of survival to expand in the awareness of God.  At the moment of the unfortunate event (and his growing agitation) I asked what I could do for him. His answer was, “Nothing. Unless you can pull a miracle out of your ass!”  And, so I sat at home and began to manifest a miracle.  Funny thing about miracles is that if you don’t specify what you are needing the Universe will give you another miracle that’s been in line waiting for the asking.

A few hours later my 19 year son, who left home a year and a half ago, called me.  He wanted to apologize for everything he ever did: the disrespect, the attitudes, the pushing away, the horrible things said about me, and the disregarding of my parenting authority.  We had not spoken in that time other than when he needed a specific paper or something for whatever he was trying to accomplish.  We had become two strangers.  I expressed to him, through heartfelt sobs, that he will forever be my son.  He needed to go off and find himself.  He needed to experience the rough edges of the world and return with scars from trying.  He needed to live out the illusions of freedom and what it returns when you aren’t careful in your decisions.  That’s the battle of youth entering adulthood.  There are lessons in letting go of our loved ones even when we know they may be hurt by their choices.  I obliged and respected his wishes to be left alone.  Not one day has passed that my prayers did not travel time and space to him.  We spoke for a short while.  I assured him that he could do anything he wanted to and that I would always be here because I was Mom.  I am proud that he is figuring things out.  This was a miracle in waiting.  It had been standing in line until I asked for it to come forward…”just a miracle” and no specifics.

There are nights I lay awake thinking about my six children. I am certain other parents go through the list of questions: What did I not do right? What could I have done differently? Will they look back and realize that love was always given in abundance? Will they have taken into adulthood the knowledge that material things don’t really matter? Questions gather and release. And, as I toss and turn, churning on the mattress, I come to listen to my inner guidance. I have done the best I could do under my limitations and capacity. People will always look inside glass houses, attempt to judge, criticize, and belittle. No one knows your path, the struggles along the way, the many times you had to bulldozed your way to the other side. These thoughts come and go during nights that sleep eludes me. And, then, another miracle appears: as daylight enters the room the Divine visits with assurance. I take deep breaths, thank the Universe for allowing me to redo all the wrongs, and continue learning. I go outside, sit on my deck and enter the church of nature. It is there that I find the peace to comfort my spirit and quiet the many unknowns. I am the best possible version of me and I whisper to God, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!” I am whole again.

Asking for a miracle is allowing God to align your wishes with what you deserve.  It is a faithful act of letting go and releasing to the unknown.  It is in believing that we are entitled to the impossible.  Once you know and feel the awareness of illusion in that everything is okay the world opens up to your every desire.  We have no control of what can and will happen.  That’s the miracle.  As Lemony Snicket says, “Miracles are like pimples, because once you start looking for them you find more than you ever dreamed you’d see.”  Allow those little pimples to pop and show you the beauty of your wishful heart.