Monday, May 9, 2016

Oh F*ck, It's Mother's Day

I'm sure a lot of you are saying this right now, perhaps because you didn't buy a card or you forgot to book brunch, so you're taking Mom to an afternoon tea at an obscure German restaurant because all of the popular places are full.

This post is not for you.

If you're taking your mother or children to get a pedicure or wreak havoc in a family photo, go and get on with your life. You're wasting daylight by reading.

If instead, you woke up in shackles, compelled to drink not because of family drama ala Everyone Loves Raymond, but Family Drama, this is for you.

This is for all of the people who drop off of social media out of self preservation.

The people who hang cloths over the mirrors.

The people who bury their heads in the sand because this day was brought to you in part by The People of Hallmark, who are very first on my list of people to launch into outer space and the very last on my list of people who get to join me on my ark.

Today is a day that finds the hidden wounds, the things that didn't magically heal in the last year. The gremlin in the basement, the blood stain under the rug.

This is for the mama who has a variety of rehearsed answers to, “Why don't you just adopt?”

This is for the mamas who hear someone call out their baby's name and see the child they lost, they never had, run into the arms of someone else. She's the same age, with a reasonable resemblance to The One That Got Away.

This is for the mama who couldn't decide, couldn't flip a coin, and imprisoned her soul to the one that came through her, sacrificing her own dreams.

This is for the mama whose babies rain out before their time, whose body cannot seem to catch or hold.

This is for the mama who had to unplug her baby from a machine, without the added option of disentangling her heart and soul.

This is for the mama who opened the door to the man in uniform, who started with, “I don't know how to tell you this.”

This is for the mama who cannot seem to redirect her focus back onto herself, whose babies became her world and now lives imprisoned by her perception of their happiness, who forgot that she had work to do and that only a part of it included her fruits.

This is for the mamas who do it anyway.

This is for the mamas who have to answer why they kept “it”, knowing “it” would never “live a full life.”

To the mamas who never get asked the question, because they made the other choice.

The mamas who have to lie about how blessed they feel in every moment, because they'd rather be anywhere else.

The mamas whose babies don't or can't love them.

The mamas whose own mamas drank or hit, detached or never dropped-in in the first place.

The mamas whose brunch dates involve a bottle of champagne and a headstone.

My life's work appears to be about motherhood – helping people navigate the minefield of horrors that surround the greatest Wonder of the World. It's about reclaiming birth and women's rights and advocacy. It's about recognizing all mothers who choose to mother, or try to mother, whether that means carrying or birthing or raising or some combination of the three.

Mother is a verb, people. Maybe in your life it's a person or two or three. Maybe you add fancy terms like “step” or “in-law” or “formerly-known-as.”

They say it melts their hearts to hear their little call them “mama,” and I believe that's probably true. My heart already melted, it's somewhere under the rug, or painted on the door. The crime scene tape is ratty and faded, but the neighborhood kids keep their distance anyway. I have nothing left to give, and those sparkly little souls out there, flitting above, choosing their mothers based on their karma or samskaras or who already drives a mini-van? They are not interested in me. Fly over, they say, this one's marked and mutilated.

I'll pick the meth addict.

The woman whose shopping cart already runneth over.

This post might seem a tad bit negative (is my depression showing?), but really, it is intended to highlight the aspects of motherhood, of mothering that are deeper and more innate. More universal than flowers and pedicures. The Solidarity of Motherhood is that this shit is the hardest thing ever – to be caught up in a tornado of love that you simply cannot detach from. Or to stand in the field and chase the tornado saying PICK ME! Make ME feel LOVE! Get my ass out of Kansas, please.

We whitewash motherhood, degrade and deflate it by simply saying YAY MAMAS: here is a card, see you next year.

Instead, this year, will you do something, for me?

With me?

Write a letter, to the mother you had or wish you had. The mother you are or wish you were. The children you have, or wish you had. Define motherhood for yourself. Give yourself a reference point. Acknowledge all of the sides of yourself.

And then do it again, tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

Make an Agreement with Motherhood that you will meet it on your own terms. Become aware of the sticking points and make an effort to move through them. Appreciate the highs when you can, locate the barriers that keep love from flowing through you. Maybe for you it is sadness, or grief, or regret, or things you simply cannot post about on the internet.

I'm not asking you to post them on the internet.

That's my job.

But, spend today in relationship with this word. From a place of reverence, devotion. For the power it wields to both build and destroy. Let it build you. Let it destroy you.

And do it again tomorrow.

Sat Nam.

Last Mother's Day


17 years ago I was 18. I submitted my deposit check to attend THE Colorado College (into the hands of MLB, who would later be my supervisor) and drove home, through Denver. My mom and I stopped for lunch and saw lots of EMS drive by, and said a little prayer for wherever they were heading.

When we got home, I turned on the TV and my heart sank as the same footage was on every channel.

From that moment on, life was different.

Life keeps changing like this. Waves of grief, moments of stillness. Unimaginable things that happen, then fade, then become commonplace.

Do you remember the time before "school shooting" was a part of your vocabulary? When the biggest drama in high school was... drama?

I do.

In many ways, today is one of those days. It is a before and an after. Remembering the before, mourning the after. Maybe this isn't a bookmark in your life, and that's just fine. Maybe for you today is mourning the before, and relishing the after. Your bookmarks are different.

But here we all are, awash in the sea of forgetting the most important moment, the now, as we all face different directions and focus on what once was or what might be. What does it take for you to be in this moment? To see the full spectrum of your experience?

I forget 'now' almost every moment of almost every day. I think that's a natural, normal human condition. But every once and awhile, sometimes with the perspective of before and after, from the path I've walked, from the open field in front of me, I realize that this is it, baby.