Friday, May 13, 2011

mother's week, continued.

from parent:wise austin;
"listen to your mother" by kristin armstrong.

i am a mother.

i am a fixer, a feeder a driver, a healer, a mind reader, a comfort, an advocate, a tear wiper, a member of the hygiene, sunscreen & homework gestapo, a hair braider, a lunch packer, a bed maker, a time keeper, a promise keeper, a laundry slave, a calendar, a chef, a back tickler, a day saver, a dragon slayer, a puppy trainer, a delivery service, a hamster eulogist, a personal shopper, a crush confidante, a counselor, a manicurist, a cheerleader, a toilet flusher, a peacemaker, & the finder of all things lost.

i am the courageous recipient of mood swings, meltdowns, balled up reeking socks, soggy tissues and wet wads of gum. i can endure the evil eye and i-hate-yous without flinching [much]. i am a faithful comrade under heavy fire in the trenches of a stomach virus. i have resolutely composed my facial expression in response to gushing blood, passing gas in church, and the word penis. i have successfully performed the heimlich maneuver twice, saving my daguther from an unmelted popsicle chunk & our hamster from the throat of our swiss mountain dog. i have convinced a quaking child to leap into a body of chlorinated water with only the words, "trust me." i have taken on pain & heartbreak like a voodoo doll stuck unmercifully with pins. i am cold when my children refuse to wear a coat. i have listened when i felt like screaming, screamed when i should have listened, & given when i thought i had nothing left at all. i have been defined & refined by this gig called mom, having lost myself completely in seasons of mothering, only to find & resurrect myself over & over again.

so here's the thing. after all the years spent loving my little people, how on earth am i supposed to learn how to let them go?

my son, who used to hang on my every word, now makes grunting noises & maintains prolonged direct eye contact only with a screen. the smell of his shoes could serve as a military weapon of mass destruction. he used to spring forth from his bed in the mornings, smiling at the sound of my voice, meeting each new day with wonder & delight. now he groans & pulls the covers over his head, mumbling "jeezmomc'monfivemoreminutes" through a dense fog of morning breath, glaring at me with narrowed eyes & spite as if i were morning personified. the boy who used to love his bath now has to be told repeatedly to shower, & while showering, reminded of the benefits of soap & shampoo. he jumps & responds immediately to a new text message, yet i have to remind him twenty times to take out the trash. [perhpas i should try texting him to take out the trash?] he wears shorts every single day, at all costs & for every occasion, even when it's twenty degrees outside or the attire calls for a coat & tie. the constancy of my presence goes unnotices, yet the presumption exists that every procrastinated school project yields a joint deadline. he vacillates between needing me & pushing me away, & i alternate between holding him in the nest & wanting him to fly.

my twin daughters, two years younger than their big brother, are teetering & peering in the abyss of adolescence, the hint of future curves foreshadows the twisted road ahead. my wasband has maintained since our separation that when the girls hit puberty, our custody agreement is up for renegotiation – giving me only full week a month. likely by then i will have signs of early onset menopause & the judge will rule that in the best interest of everyone involved, the red tent shall be pitched on dad's lawn. this is probably best, beacuse even now, these two little princesses that i once nursed side by side like a tribal woman from national geographic have moods that can change as quickly as texas weather. one minute it's a perfectly lovely sunny day, & suddenly, faster than you can say "whatever," a cold wind blows through, lightning cracks across a blackened sky, & thunder rolls like teenage eyes. i am often to blame, even when i have no idea what caused the weather pattern to begin with. i no longer have personal items – my makeup has been ransacked & my closet pillaged. they chew my gum, leave the wrappers in my purse, pilfer cash from my wallet, & put on my lip gloss while they text & face time with their friends on my phone.

i realize that these changes are part of god's design – that my kids & i will drive each other sufficiently crazy so that when the time comes for them to go, i don't dissolve into a million pieces, or wrap their leg with my wailing body, or hide in the closet of their freshman dorm. i have been working on defining myself with words outside the realm of mother – i am a writer, i am an author, i am a runner, i am a friend. in my head, i know that my life exists beyond my children, but my heart knows what matters most. you see, i will never regret a maternal minute – sure, i'll regret my mishandling of some moments, but i will never regret having been present. i will never grieve money i didn't make, time or talent that i could have spent elsewhere, or the experience that got sidelined or sacrificed along the way. my mark is my motherhood; my legacy is love.

no matter what other definitions i cultivate, somehow when i meet someone new, or stand before a crowd of strangers to explain myself, i always seem to begin where i began.

my name is kristin. i am luke, grace & isabelle's mom.

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