Dear Mother: A Letter to My Mothering Self

by willeya

for me, motherhood doesn’t stay with atticus but sweeps all of femininity and personhood up with it.  i’ve taken to heart the “perfect mother” like she’s some sort of cut out doll that society places on top of me to see where i extend past the lines.  and maybe she is.  but probably she is just the weightless echoes of my own voice speaking to my own heart about what i should – or should not – be.

i walk through my weeks with a sense of taking the bleacher steps two at a time.  i feel like i am missing something in between and the truth is i am.  i can literally see people falling through my cracks.  the toilet seat, the ugly bedroom, the mismatched furniture, the makeup, the moments not captured on camera, the shoes, they are all falling through.

it’s funny because none of this has to do with motherhood but somehow it really all does for me.  because mothers do it all {with grace}, right?

yesterday i took a three hour nap. i was so tired from touching shame too many days in a row.  today is a gray day and it’s comforting, really, that not every day is sunshine and roses.  that even the weather is allowed imperfection.  so i am taking my cues from this still air and these silent birds, to give my heart what it needs. i am writing a letter to my mothering self.

To My Mothering Self,

our culture calls you “strong” and asks you to prove it with how little you need – so that when you do – it feels like true failure.  shun this, dear girl.  flee to the place that calls weakness, strength and vulnerability, courage.  This Place gives you a good night’s sleep so that you wake in the morning refreshed, ready to hip hold your child while talking on the phone and dicing tomatoes for dinner.

dear mother, you are not every woman and it’s not all in you, but you are very much you.  just be very much you.

do you remember last night, when you and atticus were in your bed under the blankets, faces close for butterfly kisses, and you were reading to each other?  you read book after book until it was 40 minutes past bedtime.  dear mother, this is you.  you left the “perfect mother” to read books and see beauty, because when all is quiet, this is what you do. and like always, the beauty pumped your heart up bigger and bigger until his laughter was the pin prick that burst it into a million pieces.  and in that moment,before going to bed, you were every bit a mother. you were just what he needed.  

mother, trust this process. it will happen over and over if you let it.

dear mother,  when you live in freedom to be who you are, you give others the freedom to be who they are.  do you remember the softness you felt towards mandi in her particularly hard mothering week because you were living in the feathers of grace yourself?  she noticed and for a moment the two of you sat in your own bed of strengths and weaknesses next to each other, enjoying the company without threat from any angle.  you long to be on Team Motherhood with women more often but so often their differences feel like lines in the sand.  grace erases these lines that create an island around you and joins you with the incredible forces of Womanhood and Humanity.  strength flows back and forth, woman to woman, when defenses are down.

the funny thing about motherhood is that it is a mixed bag of you are enough and nowhere near it.  in one way your son needs exactly who you are because more than anything, he just needs you.  but of course no person is ever enough for another person and so you are not for him.

herein lies the heart of a mother: one who offers all of herself and accepts grace in the places she lacks.  atticus needs to see both in you.  he needs to know he is whole but lacking, free but limited,  and that these two can lace fingers – dating style – in him like they do in his mama.  he needs this more than he needs his shoes, so if you forget them every day now and again to remember This Freedom, that’s ok.

dear mother, there are little eyes watching you as you compare yourself to perfection.  they see you too when you throw it off and “just do you” instead.  every time you handle your heart you are teaching him what to do with his.

for his sake and yours, yes, handle it with grace.  but, o dear mama, Grace of an all together bumpier kind.

Love your Saner, Truer,

Mothering Self

pss.  linking up with Amber’s Mother Letters and adding my voice to the throng of encouragement in this tentative role called mother.  check it out.