Monday, May 10, 2010

Motherhood: The Ultimate Paradox

Yesterday, we celebrated Mother's Day. Cynical people like to chalk up these days to just another holiday invented by the card companies to generate sales. I tend to be as cynical as the next gal, but I have to say, I love Mother's Day. I love that we set aside a day in May to honor the Moms and a day in June to do the same for the Dads. I mean who, on this EARTH, gives more to others than parents? And the giving never ends. You give birth, you do your best to raise them into active, functioning members of society, and then you stand back, ready to roll up your sleeves to help whenever your adult children need you. Parenthood never ends, at least it never did/has for my parents and it certainly won't for me. I look forward to everything still to come with my kids. Sometimes I can't believe I was blessed with these two smart, funny, beautiful, sarcastic (gee, where does THAT come from?) people in my life.

On Saturday, I put Emily on a flight that would deliver her to her dad in Indianapolis (he had to go a day earlier—long story). So of course Saturday dawns stormy and dark, and I am a bundle of nerves over the whole thing. Emily tells me to RE-LAX. It'll all be fine. As I watched her breeze through security like she does it every day, I realized she was right. It would be fine. I was the problem, not her. She arrived at the mid-point in Baltimore and called to say part 1 was finished. How was it? I asked. "We experienced some turbulence," she replied in a blase tone. Were you scared? I asked. "Um, no, but you would've been." LOL! Yes, my children know me and yes, they can be sarcastic like their mother. Why am I oddly proud of that?

I was left to celebrate Mother's Day with just Jake, who did a fine job of delivering the cards, chocolate and plants his father had bought for me and to place on my mother's grave. This was my sixth Mother's Day without my own mom, and she would've loved the fact that I arrived at the cemetery just as they were closing the gates at 4 p.m. I went back again at 4:50 p.m. today and discovered they really mean that 4 p.m. closing time. I hope I get an A for effort, but seriously, how much of a loser does this double denial make me? My mother, who loved a good laugh, must certainly be enjoying my cemetery ineptitude. I'll try again tomorrow.

Mothers everywhere know it's the hardest and best job we'll ever do. I remember Bill Clinton once said that being president meant nothing to him when stacked up against being a parent. Love him or hate him, he seems to have had a hand in raising a nice kid. Who among us wouldn't be satisfied to say the same thing? Motherhood, however, can be a journey of soaring highs and crushing lows. I experienced both yesterday. My oldest cousin, Ann Marie, became a first-time grandmother on Mother's Day. I thought it was so cool that her daughter Marissa really delivered a gift that her mother will never forget, and Ann Marie said it was by far her best Mother's Day ever. Then this morning I read with horror on Facebook that an old friend from the Spain days had lost her 21-year-old daughter yesterday in a freak accident, just two days after her daughter graduated magna cum laude from college.

Nothing will raise you up or bring you low quite like motherhood. Welcome to Jonathan Michael Riley, the newest member of my large extended family, and God bless the family of Samantha Cawthorne.


Mary G said...

Happy Belated Mother's Day Marie.
So sad to hear about your friends loss at at time you are celebrating other things.

LOL the sarcasm. On Mother's Day we were sitting around chatting after lunch & my 20 year old college grad son said that he doesn't get women & there aren't enough trees in the world to print a book that would explain them. I had to laugh.

Marie Force said...

LOL Mary, that is too funny and so true. We are deep and mysterious and that's the way we're supposed to be! :-) Hope you had a nice Mother's Day, too!