Mm-hmmm

Driving my almost a teenager kiddo to school this morning.

Silence and music for a bit.

My mind snaps to gear; plan for the day.

Must review the plan.

Remember, you have a game tonight.

mm-hmmm

Change into your your uniform after school.

mm-hmmm

Walk to the club like normal after school, ok?

mm-hmmm

I’ll call you when I am on the way to get you. We have to leave in time because of the Friday traffic.

mm-hmmm

Oh, make sure you order a snack too, there won’t be time to stop on the way and you’ll need something before the game.

mm-hmmm

___

Don’t say too much now.

You might use up all the words.

And, that would be such a bummer.

Snarky mama.

mm-hmmm

and an ever so slight and could-have-so-easily-been-missed

grin.

Or was that a smirk?

Have a great day, bug. love you.

love you too.

 

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Wait. Just stand there for a sec.

He walked to the table for breakfast this morning.

He looked different.

He looked different than he did just nine hours ago when I badgered him about getting his nighttime reading done.

And when I tucked him in for the night.

He looked older.

I said to him.

Wait, stand there. Just stand there for a sec.

You look different this morning.

I looked at him.

I surveyed his face, his every hair and the space he occupied in the room.

I saw the baby I once held.

I saw the small boy who used to hold my hand and call me mama.

I saw the teenager he almost is.

I said to him.

Sometimes I miss my little little boy.

But mostly, I just really like who you are right now.

And.

And I am curious about who you are becoming.

He looked at me.

With eyes that almost rolled. Almost.

He said to me.

Ok mom.

3july

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Note Of The Day…

“My mother… she is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her.”  – Jodi Picoult

My mom was just that, soft and nurturing,  yet small and oh so mighty.  We went toe-to-toe in my childhood and adolescence – my strong will matched so completely by her inner strength; a power that I suspect she never quite fully realized.  It’s what I channel to this day as a mother of my own mini me.

To grow old and be like her would be an honor.

My mother lived what unconditional love looks like; she was forever my number one champion and the evening she quietly slipped to the other side marks a most striking contrast; a before-and-after moment in my life, unparalleled by nothing other than the birth of my own child. The stories I could share to make this clear are endless. My mother knew me in ways I am still yet realizing. She saw me in a way I can’t even quite yet, standing here in the middle point of my life.  She accepted me despite my many attempts to push her back, because I always needed one more test to know that she really and truly was always going to love me.

She always passed.

Today marks the day she left our world, sixteen years ago.  There will come a day, when I will know more years without her than I do with her, but thankfully we are not there yet. Even if so, her essence, her spirit really, is etched deep within; she is part of me. If life is aligned as it should be, we do not forget our mothers, and I think that we never stop needing them. At least I don’t, and in fact, the older I get, the more I realize just how much I need her. I wasn’t yet a mother myself when she passed on, and it’s my deepest sadness that we didn’t get to share this profound part of our lives.

Anticipating this milestone, I have been thinking of her more than usual, if that’s possible. Not too long ago, I unearthed a box of old journals – a Pandora’s box of memory and emotion.

In the box, I found – among so much else – something I wrote in October of 1995, while taking a creative writing class. It reveals, and reminds me of an exquisite part of her character, her everyday presence. That look between us in our photo above.  Her gift of constancy; I always knew I was at the top of mind for her.  What I wrote 19 yrs ago  – which turned out to be exactly two years before we started to say our goodbyes, my memorial to a most gracious soul  – is really my post for today.

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Here’s to you mom,

you are missed

in every way,

in my every day.

xo

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Motherhood Measured

A month ago, my son turned 10, and in the time since, I have been reflecting on just how much I have received in the lessons learned in these ten years; for him life and for me, a decade of Momming. Parenting. Learning. Stumbling. Loving. Questioning. Doubting. Knowing. Crying. Savoring.

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I can remember looking at myself in the mirror, when pregnant, staring at that face looking back at me, and telling the woman in the mirror:  You are going to be a mom. You will have this little person who is going to need you. There will be feet running through this house soon. You are going to be a mother. YOU. YOU? You can barely keep a house plant alive, just how do you plan to do this?

Looking back, I recall all of the cliches that have been shared with me over the years. And, they are all true: It’s a wonderful experience. It’s the toughest job you will ever have. You will never love anyone as much as your child. It all goes by so fast, appreciate each moment. You think you are tired now? 

I have had all of that. And more.

…I, for the first time, see myself in another.

…I stop dead in my tracks on some days when I remember that I am not raising a child, I am raising a PERSON.

…I am humbled by this person, and a few years ago I stood back and looked at him and could see him as not just my son, but as someone I would want to know if I were not his mom.

…This person has a sense of humor that rivals many adults I know; the spark in his eye and the cackle in his laugh emerged at the ripe old age of 3 weeks.

…This person has a wise old soul that understands – and articulates thoughts – that make me wonder where he’s been all these years.

…This person has a threshold of emotion that manifests itself outwardly in ways that matches mine, on the inside. I am proud of him for feeling safe and secure to not hold back, hard as it is on some days.

…This person has a brain that works in all directions; its only a matter of time before it’s going in circles around mine.

…This person pushes my buttons, tests my patience, wears me out and turns me inside out.

This person knows me; warts and all. And loves me.

…This person has taught me more than I knew there was to learn.

I know without question that I am a better, stronger, wiser, woman for having this now still little, but shifting – if only barely perceptibly – right before my very eyes, into this amazing person to call my son.

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I have had to learn to dig deep to find the patience in my core, because I want this person to feel safe in who he is.

I have learned to learn to stop and listen and ask, so that he knows that no matter what, he can trust me. About anything. Anytime.

I have learned to say yes as much as possible; and to mean it when I say no.

It is clear to me that no matter how much I dig hanging out, rocking-out or laughing until our bellies ache with my son, I am here to be his parent, not his friend. He has his. I have mine.

I have come to recognize myself in new ways because this person mirrors my best and worst.

I have learned that I love us both more for that.

To the next ten…

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One

One thing can make all the difference in the world.

How one father’s life taken, far too early, can inexplicably change the course of a family for generations, forever.

How one  person can change an entire day with just a smile.

How one mother can forever change the world of one little girl.

How one person who abuses their power can cause the suffering of an entire people.

How one child makes a family.

How one leader can dash the morale of an entire soul.

How one partner can render someone invisible to themselves.

How one comment starts a conversation.

How one degree hotter makes water boil.

How one conversation can start a friendship.

How one word can change a whole story.

How one song can lift spirits.

How one friend can make you feel so at home.

Yes, one thing can make all the difference in world.

Do you have a one?

What a Lady

I am taking a little personal side trip; a detour of sorts.  Today’s post will be short, simple and hopefully more sweet than sad, but some tissues may be needed.  14 years ago today my mom left this world after a short but fierce battle with cancer.  My brother came across this photo of her not too long ago and sent it to me; I was so glad and couldn’t believe that in all the years, I had never seen this particular image of my mother. I wish I knew how old she was here, but I am guessing mid-to-late 30’s.  Not too long before, but definitely before she would become my mama. Isn’t she stunning?

Bernice is/was her name; and wow, what a truly spectacular lady! I am biased, obviously, but ask anyone who knew her and you would get the same response.  Wise beyond her era; ever insightful; strong and gentle. Patient.Prayerful. Powerful.  The original listener. She was my biggest fan and that job is difficult to fill; truly unconditional love is hard to come by.  About three years after her passing, I had the opportunity to spend a few days alone in a quiet, beautiful location. Prior to that, I had found this book, or rather I think it  found me. It practically jumped off the shelf into my hand the day I bought it, but it took me three+ years before I would feel ready to crack the cover.

So, I spent three days among the redwoods, just me and this book.  What I loved about it most was the way the author Hope Edelman approached the issue of mother loss; she “explores the myriad ways that losing a mother can affect almost every aspect and passage of a woman’s life.”  Having experienced the loss of her own mother at a young age, she found that not much had been written about this and felt there was a void in the literature that needed to be filled. She focused her compassionate work on the examination of the stages of a woman’s life at all the most critical junctures; infancy, childhood, teens, young adult, early 30s’s, and so on.  She researched the life stage developmental tasks being mastered along that continuum and then examined the impact of the loss of the mother at those crossroads, and the resulting impact of the loss as the girl/woman progresses through life. To do this, she interviewed hundreds of women whose stories literally grace the pages.

Those three days alone were transformative; I was {too} young to lose her; and  found myself on the pages in a way I hadn’t expected.  Needless to say, I was exhausted, depleted, drained, after those days, but more importantly, that is when the healing process started to begin. Don’t get me wrong,  I miss her like crazy, and to this day, 14 years later, it can still feel like it was yesterday.  But those days with trees and words and pages and stories marked an important turning point.

Before my time concluded, I found myself reflecting on how much I had learned from my mom; that I wanted to capture and celebrate. Things that naturally I fought with her about while growing up; rolled my eyes at more than once and tried to get out of more than once. I wrote on the back cover of the book all that came to my mind that day and filled it edge to edge.  While still needing her in my life; I knew that she had left me with so much grace and wisdom; and not to mention, some really practical stuff too!  🙂

So, today, I celebrate the lovely lady I knew as my mom; all that she taught me and all that she was. I have often said, if I could be even just half the woman she was, I would be quite a woman.  Miss ya mom!

{ Off to find a tissue…Id love to hear about something you are glad your mama has taught you }