Although our nest has been empty for nearly 10 years, the recent birth of our 7th grandchild got me reflecting more deeply upon the richness of motherhood … and … the peaks and valleys of my own journey through it. From where I am looking, parenting is one of the ultimate callings in life. For me, I think it is the HIGHEST and most NOBLE calling because it has been the HARDEST calling of my life. It has also been the most MAGNIFICENT and SACRED calling of my life … stretching my character to unknown vistas, bringing me to my knees in humble appreciation and heartfelt compassion for those who have parented before me … and … leaving me with a deeper appreciation of LOVE than I ever fathomed could be possible.
Motherhood has been the ultimate in both agony and ecstasy for me. It has been, and continues to be, the most remarkable part of my journey. But, it has left me completely shaken, broken to the core and scared spit-less. Feeling terrified that in my best efforts to be an amazing parent, I have screwed up royally. Feeling petrified that I have harmed the souls of those whom I most cherish. Reassuring myself, often, that they are resilient enough to rise above any of the pains I have etched in their hearts. My three daughters, all grown up and with beautiful, sparkling little cherubs of their own, have broken me open in ways I had not expected … nor … at times, thought I could possible endure.
It is such a vulnerable place to live … being a parent. Your heart is wandering about in the world … all by itself … and out of your control … so you tremble. And, from the outside, you look rational for the most part, but you get crazed by irrational fears … blindsided while you are flipping a pancake or cleaning out a closet. But your awareness of the lunacy of your fears is not sufficient to silence them. You make up horrific stories in your head that won’t allow you to sleep until they are tucked safely back in the nest at home.
I swear that you view the world differently once you become a parent. You see things you never noticed before … and … you wonder how you missed such obvious hazards and then you worry beyond all sense and sensibility. You treasure your children so much that your fears can eclipse your capacity to let them breathe … and … blossom. If you are not careful, you smother them with your love. And you KNOW they can’t survive that kind of selfish, conditional love that places your fears before their freedom, but you can’t help yourself. So you clip their wings in order to spare your own heart. And then you feel guilty … and ashamed … because they deserve a chance to grow and thrive and offer their delicious and dazzling gifts to the world.
It is excruciating to learn that unconditional love means you make the decision to let yourself sit in the prickly discomfort of giving them wings. You shift your gaze and do your best to silence your primitive protective instincts … and … you commit yourself to dwelling in the anxiety of letting them flap their wings until they learn how to fly. You accept (as some very wise soul once contended) that the question is not when they will find their wings, but what they are going to wear with all those magnificent feathers. And you cry. And you know you shouldn’t. It’s just hard to think about them fluttering off … leaving the nest. But you also know, they are meant to SOAR …
And you do your best to encourage the fulness of their flight. And it is so hard some days. So you practice your own counseling skills. You attend an art therapy workshop but you use it to do your own internal healing. The others might be thinking about how they will use this skill with their clients … but you are expressing your innermost emotions in the creation of the mandala … and … you write a poem from the artistry you have created. And you feel some release of the weight in your heart …
In a blazing circle of hearts
I am centered magnificently
noticing a chaotic but definite pattern
of complete balance.
I see symmetry and asymmetry
interwoven into the continuous circles of change
the sharp lines that sometimes divide us.
Although there are definite starts and stops
A beautiful yellow blossom
from the center.
She is my sweet daughter
as a bold blossom
generously gifted into our lives
how to love … unconditionally.
It is my deepest honor to see my dazzling, brilliant and beautiful daughters embracing the highest and most noble calling of all … they are now raising my treasured grandchildren. I am so proud of how stunning and graceful they look in full flight with all those magnificent feathers …
And, I am so deeply humbled and so richly blessed, XO Mom & Gram