I never expected to be a mother. I could not envision it. I feared failing at it. So I locked up my heart and my imagination and told myself not to wish for it. The spoken contract of my first marriage precluded procreation.
As the youngest of three daughters, I had little experience with babies—a few stints as a babysitter does not prepare you for parenting duties. Mostly, I babysat intelligent, well-behaved toddlers or older children. As a result, my diapering and drool-wiping skills were non-existent.
Then I met David. I was not looking for love again. I did not expect it and shied away from hoping for it. But love surprised me. Marriage and children followed.
The parenting journey sent me alternating between focused reading and skill-building, out-reach to more experienced moms, and no few moments of wild panic. Instead, the power of maternal love spurred me onward. Love poured out of me. And I prayed I was good enough, deserving enough, that I would do no harm.
I mined the role models in my life:
- My gentile, creative mother.
- My resourceful, savvy older sister.
- The neighbor who trusted me to babysit her children and became one of my most cherished life-long friends and mentors.
Armed with their shared wisdom and inspiration, I toiled on. Luckily, my life partner toiled by my side, honoring the co-parenting vow we made: never break camp angry, always resolve to present a unified front, remember the grace and gift of the child in your arms—not a burden of responsibility, but an opportunity for love and joy. Always find the laughter.
And when you are wrong, be humble. Apologize with a heart full of love.
On this Mother’s Day eve, I look at our children in wonder. They made it to adulthood relatively unscathed: well-rounded and well-read productive citizens who practice gratitude, share easily, laugh readily, and stand up for themselves and others.
When I received the card below from our far-away daughter, I was overwhelmed. It’s too much. But I will take it and cherish it and try to live up to it.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and all motherly influencers. May parenting and mentoring bring you joy, make you a better human, and help shape someone who will be a gift to the world.