Thoughts on a first Mother’s Day

As those of you on the mailing list know, this is my first Mother’s Day. At the end of last year, my husband and I welcomed our first little one, who has proceeded to upend our lives ever since.

One thing that was immediately apparent to me was how the perspective of my writing shifted. Some of it was subtle – a focus on guidance and mentorship. Some of it was less so, such as parental perspectives in stories I was working on. Without my own little one, I doubt those pieces of the stories would ever have occurred to me to write.

What has been surprising, I think, is how little I feel like a mother – or, perhaps, how little my expectations of motherhood have lined up with reality. I said to my husband a few weeks ago that I feel more like I imagine a big sister would feel: loving the hell out of Sprog* and being so proud of each developmental accomplishment, but not feeling like “mom” yet. Today, as I watch the series of posts about people being proud to be mothers, I still don’t quite feel it.

I think what I haven’t understood was this: I’m not proud to be Sprog’s mother, as such, because I don’t feel any ownership of this process. That’s not a “Jesus Take the Wheel” sentiment (one of my least favorite songs, but that’s definitely a rant for another time), but instead a very joyful expression of the fact that I see how much this process is not mine at all. Much like a gardener, I can water, I can guide, I can prune, but I cannot do the growing. I do not create the beauty of the garden, I simply enable it. I am a resource.

I have never before experienced a love that is so rooted in letting go. As my child learns to sit up, to watch the world, each little step away is part of an adventure. I am a haven for him. Someday soon he will be crawling away from me, and it will be profoundly Good (then it will be walking, and running, and biking, and evenings out at movies, and dates, and college, and….).

Perhaps those are the wrong type of thoughts for today, because Mother’s Day is, after all, about mothers. Nevertheless, these are the thoughts I have about motherhood: that it is stewardship, not any sort of ownership; that it lies in the launching forth and not in the holding. That I can watch and I can pray and I can encourage, but in the end, there is no control I have over this process, only help I can offer.

I would never have expected that feeling to be as wonderful as it is. It is a blessing, as is my son.

So I am wishing you all a very happy Mothers Day today: to the mothers of birth or choice (or both). To those who have had a hand in raising children. To the fathers, as well, as my blogging record isn’t fantastic and I don’t want to miss you all in a month or so! May today be a wonderful day for all of you.

-M

* Not his actual name, I promise you

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