Fast forward to my fourteenth Mother's Day. I have a photo (that I can't find!) of my son Chris, smiling at his new, long hoped for baby sister Jessica, who is not quite three months old. I'm looking puffy, exhausted, overweight and kind of shell shocked at the miracle of Jessica's coming into this world.
I'm not sure if we took pictures every Mother's Day, but on my sixteenth day of celebration, I have another baby girl, not quite two months old, and there is no doubt about it, I am one weary mom.
Chris holding Jessica (2 years) and sleeping Kailyn (2 months)
There are many photos over the years of the girls and I, sometimes dressed in matching outfits (I sewed, and, I thought it was cute. What can I say??) (of course, I can't find any of them at the moment!)
On my 29th Mother's Day, Chris wrote me a long, three page poem, full of love, appreciation for his life, and gratefulness that he had me as his mom. I sobbed through it the first time I read it, and it will always be the most precious gift he ever gave me. He wrote other poems too, but that one I especially treasure.
The girls have given me many, many lovely handmade cards, and beautiful gifts for Mother's Day.
2009 Mother's Day Hike at Eagle Creek
I nearly always attend church on Mother's Day, and I nearly always cry at least a little. The year after Chris died, I seem to remember sobbing so much I had to get up and leave. I'm crying now, just thinking about no more Chris.
Sometimes, it makes me mad that I am sitting there crying over Chris, surrounded by my husband and usually one or both daughters, and I'm mad at Chris. Damn him for messing up my life and ruining my Mother's Day.
Of course, within seconds, I'm remorseful, and awash with gratefulness, that God made me a mother, and so generously gifted me with three incredible human beings who have called me "mom". Chris didn't "ruin" my mother's day, anymore than my mom's death "ruined" my life. Sometimes I'm ashamed of myself for even thinking those thoughts. But, I do think them once in awhile. I guess that's part of living, that dying is what we all do, and, we have a choice of how we will respond when life isn't "going our way". Funny thing, we don't seem to be in charge of those events though, do we?
I know that it is my choice how I view my life, as either "half full" or half empty" and, most of the time, (these days, anyway) I see it as more than half full. While I can't go so far as to say I'm glad I've experienced the losses I've had, I can say that what I've learned, and what I've gained from these losses are immeasurable. There's no better way to build compassion and empathy that to suffer loss. And, there's no better way to develop a rich appreciation for the minutest moments, than to be painfully aware that "this could be the last time" at all times.
Last night, Kailyn drove home from Ellensburg in time for us to make it to over to the high school to watch "Hello Dolly", something we've been planning for a few weeks. The musical was fantastic, as usual, and it was thrilling to reconnect with several of my former students who played various roles. The light technician was one of those special kids I had when I taught both second and fifth grades, and he completed his senior project as a volunteer in my classroom. I discovered about a third of the orchestra were also "my kids".
Teaching is another form of mothering. I definitely feel a mothers pride when I watch my former second and fifth graders belting out a song, or dancing across the stage, all grown up in high school. I am grateful to have the incredible opportunity to "teach and reach" kids. As I was enveloped within the enthusiastic and loving hugs I received last night, I reveled in the perks that come from my nurturing in the classroom.
Today, Jessica is bringing "the boy" (aka Brandon) home to meet us for the first time. She tells me the relationship is becoming "serious" and I'm filled with equal parts of anticipation and anxiety. I have cleaned house like a dervish (directly related to an earlier post on incentive!) David just hosed off the deck. Jessica's best friend, Elisa, (who is like a third daughter to me) and her husband are also coming for dinner, so we'll have a party tonight. I'm looking forward to having "my kids" home, and it seems like an added bonus that it's also Mother's Day weekend.
I wish for all my blogging friends a wonderful weekend, whether you are honoring your mother, being honored as a mother, or celebrating the sunshine with friends. We are all nurturers, and we all deserve a day that is ours to enjoy, in whatever form that pleasure takes.