My son Mason was born sixteen years ago today. I was born sixteen years ago today. Up until that day I was only a precursor of myself, a foundation. I had lived a lot of experience, traveled a lot of distances, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I had already been lost and found many times. Invented and reinvented. Looking back it was all in preparation for the journey that would begin that day, December 9th, 1998.
I was terrified to become a mother. When I took the pregnancy test I wanted to crawl out of my own flesh and bones and run far far away. Not because I doubted the beauty and wonder of motherhood, but because I doubted myself. I wondered how a broken down shattered kind of girl like me could possibly do such a thing. I thought I would take this small soft being and before I knew it I would crush it in the grip of my own emotional pitfalls. I wondered how I would become a selfless, loving nurturer in nine months time. How would I transform from girl into woman? My husband was my champion, reassuring me, telling me I would be great. He often knows me better than I know myself. I guess others can see us more clearly than we can see ourselves sometimes.
My wise teacher speaks to me often about soul contracts. It sounds a bit out there I suppose, but I believe it. My experience leads me to this. The people I need show up for me. The ones who have loved me, the ones who have hurt me, the ones who came for awhile and then faded out of sight. All of them came with a gift. My children are my soul teachers, my healers. There has been no one more significant than them, nor could there ever be. I thought that as a mother I would be the teacher, the giver, the wise one. I have played that role for my children, but the truth is that they have done the same for me, even more so.
My children have taught me that letting go is much more powerful than holding on. They have been their own people from the very start, born with personalities, qualities, energies, unique to themselves. They are born with the seeds of who they are meant to be already taking root and growing in them. Those seeds of who they are meant to be have nothing to do with me. If I believed for a moment that my role as a mother was going to be about controlling, forging or molding these beings into what I wanted them to be, that was wholly unlearned by their teaching in the first few years. I could have insisted on going that route, dug my heels in around who they should be for me, but I realize that they are not here for me. I am here for them. I am here to hold safe space for them, to watch them, to guide them, hear them, protect them, but not keep them. I can not keep them! The most important part of this mothering is the letting go part. God it is so damn hard though. I often find myself wanting to control, to grip, to cling. I forget in my fearfulness to trust, to trust that my children know who they are, to trust that all is guided and intelligent. Don't get me wrong, I have had, and continue to have a fierceness in my mothering when it is needed, after all, I am the mother, but I try my best to check my intentions, to see what is really needed, if it is rooted in love or fear, and I mess up. For the messing up, also letting go.
My children have taught me about forgiveness. As I just said, I mess up. In my mothering I have learned something so huge, so powerful. Forgiveness is the cornerstone of love. We all mess up. In the family we are especially prone to error, wrong seeing, hurtful words and actions, impatience. I have often acted and later realized that I was misguided and unskillful, my fear blossoming into anger and inflicting hurt. I have hurt my children. My children have hurt me, especially my teenagers. No one lives in such close relationship with another being without hurt happening in some way, shape or form. Not all hurts are equal though, we can wound each other horribly, irreversibly. As a mother I have become sensitive to owning my part in this co creation. When my kids were babies it was 100% me, my responsibility. That changes over time, slowly, incrementally. Part of this parenting is knowing when to move into more shared ownership of the relationship as the child becomes an adult. I think one of the most powerful things I have done for my children is to make mistakes, as we all do, and when I do, to acknowledge them, apologize and create a space for healing and forgiveness. This also works vice versa. I strive to create an environment for my kids where they are self aware, where they understand that their choices matter, and that mistakes or wrong doings will be addressed, but no mistake will take away the love I have for them. Forgiveness is the cornerstone of love, because we are all just human, imperfect and beautiful.
My kids have taught me about love. They have led me straight into my own heart and where there was once so much doubt and fear, where I once felt broken down and shattered, they have restored me, and filled me with hope, wonder, gratitude and joy. My love for them knows no bounds or limits. I love them in every breath, every heart beat, every moment. If I gave them life, they have certainly done the same for me.