There’s that moment, when your baby’s lungs fill with oxygen for the very first time and you’re overwhelmed with love and fear. Because even though you’ve been given nine months to prepare, there’s no preparing for this. This feeling of unbounded joy tinged with vulnerability and inadequacy. I remember wanting everyone else in the room to disappear because I felt like the two of us needed a moment to adjust to the fact that we weren’t sharing a body anymore.
And that’s where the fear comes from. We get nine months of ultimate control of their safety, and then, after hours of excruciating labor, the demise of our power begins. Slowly but surely, with every stage of life comes new wonder and excitement, new skills and talents, but more danger. We don’t ever stop trying, though. We pad corners, lock cabinets, buy child-safety packages, and install baby gates. We use gps trackers, lecture, and tell cautionary tales.
We’re the security detail who runs ahead to vet the world before they get there, trying desperately to head off potential danger. Trying desperately to calm that nagging, anxious feeling that creeps in on the edges of everything they do that is so necessary to them living their best life and knowing joy, but that might involve risk. We take deep breaths, smile, and talk ourselves down the first time they go to school, sleep over at a friend’s house, pull out of the driveway, go to a party, or move out on their own.
And in the course of their lifetimes they will bring us the greatest joy we ever know. They’ll fill our hearts with so much love we can feel it, physically, in our chest. A tiny voice whispering, “I love you, mama,” a hard-fought B in a particularly difficult class, or an act of compassion. They’ll achieve things we never imagined; take the first step, collect trophies and advanced degrees, raise beautiful families, and even save lives. They will make us angry in ways we would have never guessed that sweet baby could, by doing exactly what we (or the law) told them not to do; beating the snot out of their sibling, getting a speeding ticket, missing curfew or back-talking. They will disappoint us by not working up to their potential, choosing a lie instead of the truth, or leaving their chores undone.
Some of them will break our hearts through no fault of their own. The heavens will open up and take them back before we’re ready; despite all of our due diligence. Others will break our hearts, as well as their own, when they leave the perfectly drawn path we laid before them and veer off into the jungle where we aren’t even sure how to save them.
They’ll do these things because they’re not perfect, and neither are we.
We’re not perfect, but we don’t quit on our kids…ever. Mamas don’t quit. And when we feel anything other than earth-shattering, soul crushing love, it’s only temporary. We love them through the very worst they can dish out. No matter how old they get, we are their soft place to fall. See, we’re not perfect, we’re better than that. We’re extraordinary. Perfection isn’t relatable, it isn’t resilient, it doesn’t crawl down in the trenches when the dirty work has to be done. Perfection just sits back and points fingers. Extraordinary rises above the fray. Extraordinary stifles her fear and reassures in the most unsettling of circumstances. Extraordinary slays Goliath. And the very best of us are extraordinary for other people’s kids too.
Today, I celebrate all of the extraordinary moms. The ones who lost a child too soon, but fight through that pain every day for their siblings; the ones who are standing alongside a child who’s fighting addiction and are battling fear and exhaustion to face down a dragon; the ones who spend their money and their days traveling back and forth to see specialists in the hope of giving their child a life free of pain, whether emotional or physical; the ones who are sitting on their hands watching their child struggle, because they know that this time they need to find their own way; the ones whose kids are going through a painful breakup or divorce and are resisting the urge to retaliate; the ones who embrace their child’s lifestyle and tell society to “stuff it”; and the ones who appear to have it all together, whose kids never seem to do anything but the right thing, because they have their own battles we know nothing about.
There are so many of you who inspire me to be a better mom and you don’t even know it. I hope you recognize yourselves here. Thank you for your willingness to be real, and flawed, and transparent. Thank you for sharing your grace, determination, grit, laughter and tears. You have no idea how it gives the rest of us the freedom to be extraordinary.
Happy Mother’s Day from me ❤️