I just read Jamie’s article, Motherhood Has Changed My Idea of Strength. I got halfway through the article, saw the pic of her in the red leather jacket, braces, unibrow, and lost it completely. A great sob rose out of me, and then I laughed, and then I called her and told her she was a beast of a child for doing that to me.
How I adore her.
I’ve been a big mush about my kids the last week or so. I have my ups and downs. Most of my downs are quiet, kept to myself, and brief. But Jamie, Scott, Grace–they’ve seemed especially attuned this week, because I got random texts, an invite to tea, phone call out of the blue, always at the exact right moment to derail the sorrow creeping through me.
How I adore them.
In Jamie’s article, she writes: Motherhood will swallow you if you’re not strong, and it’s easy to see how and why. We fling ourselves into it, we want to do it well, and, often, we like it. This frequently means putting the needs of our children and others before ours. That can look strong — taking on absolutely everything for someone else — and, in its own way, it is. But it’s not sustainable without a cost, and that toll is ourselves as individuals. When we do that all the time, to the detriment of our own interests, limits, and desires, we become a background player in our own lives. It takes courage to pull ourselves back and assert time and space for ourselves.”
Jamie once told me that one of the greatest things I ever taught her was that I am a person. An individual. I have interests and desires and aspirations outside of my family. I wasn’t sure if she ever understood how hard that was to do, until now. It may be the hardest part of my experience as a mother, because my instinct put them first. Always. And partly because of that, I wanted all my children to know that they, too, are individual beings with interests and desires and aspirations outside of their families. If I sacrificed everything I am to be everything for them, what would they do when it was their turn?
It was exceedingly hard for me to be “selfish.” I come from a long line of selfless mothers whose entirety was comprised of their children, their children’s children, and so on. Identities were not a “thing.” They were someone’s daughter, someone’s wife, someone’s mother, grandmother. I claimed my individuality for my kids, especially for my girls. But first and foremost, I did it for me. I always hoped they knew that. I think I can safely say, now, they do.
I raised individuals. Kind. Compassionate. Open-minded, always-learning, often stubborn individuals. They don’t go along to get along. Their drummers not only have their own beat, but an entirely different song. I didn’t do everything right; I’ll assume my kids laugh behind my back about all the things they survived despite my bumbling or backwardness or simple lack of knowledge. But I got this right. So right. And, damn, I’m really proud.