Tonight I sit alone in a hotel room in California, waiting for a work week to start. My family is home celebrating our son's birthday. He turns 16 today. Neither of his mothers are with him on this milestone birthday.
That same sweet family of mine is remembering their Mama today too--who is not here to celebrate. So they bring flowers to her grave.
So this year a birthday, Mother's Day, a memorial, and my absence collide. And it leaves me feeling emotional and maybe even a little fragile.
But the time alone has given opportunity for reflection. And I find that I'm also filled up with overwhelming joy for the story God has written. I never would have planned things this way, yet I will never ask for them to be changed. I have a husband I adore, SIX amazing kids, and a future that surely is blessed beyond what I can imagine--no matter what it holds.
Oh, I've had other thoughts too.
I've remembered my sweet friends, who--like some of my own kids--have a mother-hole in their hearts and their lives. Their moms were gone before they were ready to give them up. And now they are trying to navigate life without their confidante and closest friend.
And I weep for the women who always saw themselves as "Mom," but their bodies didn't get the memo. And God seems far away. They sit in church again, blinking tears away and watching mamas tend to their little ones--while their arms are heavy with emptiness.
I consider my own mom. I cannot find words. With each exposure to new tasks of life and motherhood, I find in my mom a wise counselor and friend. She has done it all before me. She has sacrificed and served. She has made the hard choices. She has loved when it was hard. But I never knew the depth of the "pouring out" it took for her to be that kind of mother--until I tried to be one.
My mind returns to the night of November 17th, 2009, when my youngest one became my first child. She made me a mother. I held her and released my heart to her. For so long, I held babies without feeling--I kept my heart all locked up. Because feeling would be too painful. But I FELT on that night. I felt, and I loved. I gave myself fully to her. And she was mine.
But before she was mine, she was hers. And my heart aches for the loss she feels every day. I love you Autumn. That is all. Love. I cannot repay. Not ever.
I had Chris there with me. We were finally parents together. What a good and kind man he was. What a friend, lover, partner, father!
And the woman who raised him--who shaped him and wept for him and cheered him on... She is not here to celebrate either. And Erika is forgetting the grandma who utterly adored her. My heart aches.
Another woman--one who raised my new husband (and did a darn good job)--she is my cheer-leader. I lean on her and ask the smallest or the biggest thing, and she gives to me. Again and again. And I know she loves me and is pulling for me. She secures hauls of blueberries for my freezer, food for our chickens, homemade pancake mix for our boys. But most of all, love for our brood.
This life does not last. But it is good. And it is painful too.
May God comfort you and bring you joy on this day--wherever you find yourself. Happy Mother's Day and much love.