This year … was challenging. Trying. Painful. What was 2014 to me? A year of the breakup of my marriage, the conceding of my business space, and some major drama in my close circle of people that left me exhausted and spent.
Even as the clock ticked to 0:00 yesterday, I shed tears of frustration, anger and grief. This was my year of screaming to God. Begging for a break.
Many people who know me, think of me as a very positive person. And the truth is, I can be. I love honing the gifts out of the darkness. I can see a gift in any burden. I can see humanity in the oppressors, and love anyone through their dysfunction.
But there comes a time when positivity is just a fluffy fog cloud that we are using to obscure our vision of reality. And sometimes reality really f’ing hurts.
And sometimes we have to face reality in order to see the true gifts.
I think what hurts a mother is the prospect of time passing and her being too busy trying to survive that she misses the whole experience. That one day she glances over at her baby, struck for a moment, because she heard an older voice come from that being. She wonders… when did that happen? How did I miss that? And how much am I missing every damn day while I try to be every thing and all things in a world designed to have others raise your children while you work nonstop just to have a roof over your head?
I remember my dear friend lamenting this setup 4 years ago, when separation forced her to put her homeschooled children into school, and pushed her out of being an at-home mom into the workforce. I had empathy for her pain, but until now, I had no understanding of the painful reality of these choices we must make.
I throw my hands up to my Creator and I ask why do we have to choose between work and motherhood? I was born to be a mom. I just want to do that.
My children have one childhood. I dreamed of it when I was a little child – how I would parent. How I would keep my kids safe, be present, be fun and understanding and open and smiling and full of energy and life, so that they would always turn to me for life’s big questions and I would have life’s big answers, and they would go through life unscathed by anger, fear, trauma.
Turns out, it’s not that. It’s that we are living in a system that forces us to be in debt, stress, and overall be dependent on others for our food and shelter. So that when we put our hands to our heads in utter exasperation because the baby won’t stop screaming and the food can’t get ready fast enough and the phone is ringing for yet another bill… that we don’t parent the way we envisioned. That we wrinkle our brows and sprout grays and go to bed without brushing our teeth. That our children have childhoods with faulty, dysfunctional memories. That our vision of perfection was nothing but smoke and puffy clouds obscuring the fact that… life is messy.
So what is it? What can I say at this point to redeem the fact that life hurts, sometimes beyond description?
For me, it’s finding the moments when it’s not so hard. Windows of relief, fractals of faith. Like today when I woke up, I opened my eyes and my 3 year old was nose to nose with me, wide awake and waiting for me with eyes wide open. Those huge brown eyes are a piece of heaven for me. Or later when I spoke with my cousin after her baby boy was hurt with hot tea… and my heart split into pieces and I held my head just imagining how she feels. And I became aware that it is because I love them so much – even though I have never met her baby boy – that my family is so deeply embedded in my heart that it is actually a blessing to participate in that kind of love. Or last night as I tore a strip off of my ex husband, and he responded with level voiced reason (illogical reason!!!), and I knew that he knew me well enough that I was in a state of panic. He still chose to do the honourable thing and provide for me and the kids. THAT is how I see the positive. That is the gift.
My gifts in motherhood happen every day. Spontaneous hugs. Watching my girl land her jumps at skating. Finding my little one’s tiara, because we can’t leave the house without her tiara. Watching my children eat a meal I have prepared. Seeing delight from snow falling, witnessing a discovery as a word is sounded out, or a peer problem is dissected. These are the windows of opportunity to be present to the Divine in parenting. It probably makes sense that life is so messy, because without the mess, how would I recognize the Divine. I just have to make an effort to do so. Because many of us moms are just so overwhelmed that we miss the windows. We miss the snapshots.