Here we go—Mother’s Day. I cringe when I log on to social media networks—Facebook is flooded with profile picture changes, status updates, old scanned-in photos of a Mom in short shorts and crazy curly ‘80s hair roller skating or gleefully holding up a cranky newborn. Photos of a bride kissing and embracing her mama, coupled with a note saying, “BEST MOM EVER” or “Thank you for putting up with me! Love you!” pepper Instagram. Twitter reminds us to call our mothers.
Displays of affection like this… make me cringe.
Why is my knee-jerk reaction to shift uncomfortably, feel my blood pressure rise, get ridiculously angry at all these silly people proclaiming their over-the-top love for the woman that raised them? THAT’S WHAT THIS DAY IS ALL ABOUT.
Is it because my own mother and I had a tumultuous relationship? Oh, it was nothing special—that same ole teen-angst, insecure mother, inability-to-communicate-or-connect-despite-our epic-similarities syndrome that affects a majority of most girls. Our fights ranged from silly to painful, emotionally and physically, and there are things we did that neither of us will ever be able to forget. Forgive, maybe, but forget, never.
I dreamed of having that beautiful friendship connection with my mother. I wanted to learn wisdom and the art of being a woman from her. I wanted to spend my free time being great friends with her, sharing all my secret fears and dreams, painting fingernails and watching girlie movies, going for long walks together and baking cakes and learning how wear heels and asking big questions about love.
Of course, our relationship wasn’t like that. I got my athleticism from my mother and her drive to be the best—but I learned how to put makeup on from the mom of my little brother’s best friend; I talked to my coaches and teachers about my big dreams; I turned to books and magazines to find my gossipy mentor-friend figure, to learn about sex and the keys to a successful relationship and how to dress for an interview. My mom and I just didn’t click in those ways.
Today, we have a nice little relationship—especially as her marriage to my father is ending. I love and care for my mother and I am there for her when she needs someone to talk to. We’ve bonded over our failed marriages and I admire her work as a teacher and I’m proud of her return to church and I cheer her on as she jumps back into exercise.
But… I have other mamas. The women who took me in as a college student, as a newspaper intern, as a nanny. The mommies who continue to let me in to their homes, who cook me dinner, who talk to me about life and love and adventure over a few glasses of wine, who help guide me on my career path, who encourage me and celebrate me and share their lives with me. When I left home, I sought out every strong, wonderful, loving mom I could find— and found them in my bosses, my co-workers, my friends. A tribe of women (Amy, Lisa, Jen, Meghan, Kelly, Anita, Jennifer, Courteney, Rita, many others) have tucked me under their wing, as they have their own children, and raised me into who I am today. I can truthfully say that out of anything in my life, the influence of a few key moms have shaped the trajectory of my path and built me up to be the successful, ambitious, creative, happy girl I am today.
Maybe this non-traditional mothering course is the reason tears well up in my eyes scrolling through tributes to one mom from my social media friends. Maybe because I don’t feel I can attribute all my life’s successes and happiness to one mom, I resent everyone who can. Maybe because I’m not sure how to say thank you to everyone who loves me as a daughter, I kick and flail and feel stressed about today.
Moms come into our lives in so many unexpected places and times and ways—it’s truly taken a village to raise me.
Hello. It's me
“Hey!” I yell from my car window to the man sitting on the porch. “How are you?”
I got kicked off my porch today. Yeah, I know it sounds weird, me being kicked off my very own porch.
I move to get a better shot, and the bluebird thinks its funny.
i'm just sitting here in the late morning. the grass is green, but it's an overcast day and clouds are rolling fast. i suspect heavy rains by early afternoon, but the weather channel says there may be hail. it doesn't matter. i can get a few shots in before anything strikes. the event may actually be done by then. i'm not sure. i'm just sitting here right now all by myself. away from the crowd that hasn't shown up, just photographing anything i feel. there's birds and trees and lots of other little things to fill the space. it's just a simple process anymore, filling the void that is. there's even a thin river running by that's right over there. and here's my tree. i didn't see it at first. i'll admit my mind didn't see it at all. i just breezed right by, but as my thoughts were wondering in the spring air, my eyes keep coming back to the sensation standing right there. I just like this tree. it's magical. it's a wizard with hands flying around. but it can't seem to hold on to all of these great ideas. even if none are truly great, they're all its own, and it wants to share them with us -- you and i. so hold onto your seat. we're going for a ride. it's the day i met a magical tree.
The sun is shining. So I am writing.
I can't sleep in the dark anymore.
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