I never expected to have kids. No, I don’t want to hold your baby. Please remove your small child from my Prada purse. Smell it? You want me to smell it? Smells like sour milk and crackers. There’s a scene from the movie Overboard where the mother says to Goldie Hawn’s character:
“But darling, if you have a baby, you won’t be the baby anymore.”
Let’s be clear – I’m still very much the baby of the family.
I’m just not kid friendly. Kids are messy. They leak. They require a tremendous amount of sleep but only when you’re wide awake. Truth is I’m slightly afraid of kids. They’re breakable. They’re teachable and thats REALLY scary. Kids have one volume – loud. Their internal clock is set to “sleep”, “awake” and “kill mom”.
And then I had a daughter.
And all my fears were confirmed.
This is where I tell you she’s wonderful – I’m wonderful – it’s all wonderful. Lies. All Lies. I haven’t slept in 4 years. I haven’t had control of my own body in 4 years. There are days we’re both in bed, sick, not knowing whose snot is whose and “did I just take the kids elderberry syrup? Does that mean she just had the codeine?” But I’m lucky. My kid is a trooper. She gets up at unholy hours to run races with me in our very weathered jogging stroller.
I have a great kid and I’m a fairly decent mom. But I’ve had some amazing role models. Mothers can come in a lot of packages. They can be sisters, sisters in law, grandmothers, foster mothers, your best friend’s mother, your mothers best friend…. I’ve been mothered by some incredible women – women whose voices I still hear in my head when I’m scared or sad or struggling.
Sometimes, the best mothers are girlfriends – people that love you unconditionally – the friends that will hold you when you’re sad or hold your hair when you’ve drowned yourself in tequila. Sometimes our motherly comforters are the friends that were there when you needed them most like when you miscarry, when the doctor said, “we need to biopsy” or when the divorce is final.
One of my favorite movies is “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. I love the relationships between mother and daughter, siblings, family, friends and family friends. I’m not Greek, I’m Dutch. While I love my heritage, I doubt the next blockbuster will be “My Big, Blonde, Emotionally Stoic Reunion”. So I’ll share my favorite line from the Greek flick:
“The man may be the head of the household. But the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head whichever way she pleases.”
Virjean, Virjean the Vitamin Queen. My mother. Our family neck. She was the one who came to all our basketball, football, hockey, tennis games when my father was busy saving cadets from themselves. She ran a (fairly illegal) all-natural-crunchy-holistic-grind-your-own-nut-butter food co op in our basement years before it was cool to veto velveeta. She cooked multiple meals every day, feeding the 5,000 on Sundays. She really would feed any cadet who came over. We never had less than 10 and often had more than 20 for Sunday brunch. To this day I have no idea how she fed so many people so effortlessly. (Last week I hosted 7 people for dinner and I almost stroked out.)
She’s my daughters favorite person. There are about 76 years between them but you’d never know it. They are the best of friends. I see my mother in my daughter every day. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
My mother has this laugh – once you hear it, it fills you with this happiness that I’ve never experienced in anything else. She’s a nurturer, a comforter, a fierce protector. (Rumor has it she may have gotten a basketball coach fired because of the way he treated “her boys.”) Most importantly, she is a woman who believed in all of us and still does to this day. As W.H. Auden penned,
She is “my North, my South, my East and West, my working week and my Sunday rest…”
I believe “home” is where our loved ones are.
I believe we were made for relationships – with one another and with our Creator.
And I believe we need to love harder. Not just on Mothers Day but every day.
To all the mothers, grandmothers, sister-mothers, friend-mothers out there,