My almost five-year-old has become fascinated with boobs lately. “What are those? Mine are small. When will mine get big like yours? Mommies use these to feed their babies. How do they do that? How does milk get in them?”. I’m trying to be the cool mom and take all these questions in stride, answering the questions like an intelligent, educated, forward-thinking woman because I want him to see this as biology. But, I admit, sometimes it makes me laugh and sometimes I get squirmy, a little uncomfortable with talking so bluntly about things we never discussed when I was a child. These recent conversations, and the fact that it’s Mother’s Day weekend has me, as I’m sure much of the world, contemplating what it means to be a mom. And if you aren’t a mom, you’re probably thinking about your own mother and what she has meant in your life. I mean, it’s not just about milk-producing boobs. Thankfully. As an adoptive mom, mine never did that, so I’m glad it’s not the criteria. So, what is it about?
Nothing influences my work more than relationships, and the strongest relationships I have are with my mother and as a mother myself. It is the greatest source of joy, pain, comfort, loss, self-doubt and self-confidence. It is everything. Everyone has a mom story. It might be more full of pain than joy, but everyone has a mom or is a mom or was a mom or is desperate to be a mom or maybe has no desire to be a mom. There is something so deep and tangible and transformative about motherhood, no matter how you experience it.
My boys own my soul. They came at great cost and yet a price I would have paid ten times over. Years of fertility treatments, tears, physical and emotional sacrifices in attempts to get pregnant and have a child changed me. It steeled me up and gave me perspective and empathy and strength. And then there was the choice to adopt. And that led to over a hundred hours of classes and lots of paperwork and home visits and background checks and so much scrutiny. Lots of waiting. And that gave me patience and perseverance and determination. And more strength. And that led to my sweet baby Isaac, our first adoption. But, five months into motherhood I had to hand that baby back to his father and watch him drive away forever. That broke me in a way I had never experienced. And it gave me humility and compassion and oh so many tears. And strength. And eventually, all of that led to my sweet Dylan. And four years later, another miracle came in my 12 lb baby Seth. Now, as they celebrate their 9thand 5thbirthdays this month, respectively, I find it has led to so very much more. Understanding, gratitude, so much love and acceptance. And strength. Always strength. Forever getting stronger.
This is why I am inspired by strong women. I love them and am inspired by them and I want to be one.
“It is the custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can’t) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtinesses and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind; and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.”
― J. M. Barrie, The Adventures of Peter Pan