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Musings on Mothering

September 26, 2017

Mothering is about being okay with bodily fluids.

My Mother’s Day last year involved children gleefully peeing in the woods…and one of them missed their aim, and peed on my leg.

This past Mother’s Day was spent mostly cleaning up vomit and diarrhea from the kiddo who got the stomach virus that later leveled me for a full day.

Last spring, another mom chased after my son onto the school bus, because he had fallen on the sidewalk before I could get to the bus stop, and was bleeding from an elbow scrape.  She bandaided the scrape and emerged triumphant from the bus, glad to have given first aid to one of the little villagers in our small section of the neighborhood.

As Theresa said once, “Help is love.”

Mothering is about worry.

When our kids struggle–nothing life-threatening, nothing horrifying, but even so–I worry a lot.

In telling my newest Big Worry to a wise educator-mama-friend, she told me, “That hasn’t happened yet.  That’s a pre-worry.”

I am really good at pre-worrying.  If there were a doctorate in pre-worrying, I would have passed all exams plus written a thesis already.  Summa cum laude.  A PwD.

I felt so stuck.  So unable to help this kid.  So unsure of how others in our village could help.  So not enough.

And then:  Maybe loving this kid isn’t enough in the long run–love cannot teach social skills or resilience or problem-solving.  But maybe in this moment, love is enough.  I can’t sit beside this kid in school and help defend against kids who tease, or walk through a multi-step assignment, or talk into being cooperative for another lesson.  What I can do is tell this kid, “I’m glad to see you” in the morning and after school.  Sit and read.  Listen.  Snuggle and tuck into bed.  Love gently and fiercely simultaneously.

Mothering is about sanctuary.

Last May I got into the shallow end of a pool with 28 kindergarteners and their teacher who was giving them an introduction to water safety.  On the way, three different kids (only one of whom was mine) were talking to me simultaneously about three different topics, each convinced I was attending to them and them alone.  Once the teacher instructed everyone to climb into the pool, two girls (one of whom lives down the street from us) whimpered in fear and drew back from the water.  I lifted each one gently into the pool, staying with them to ease their anxiety and make sure they felt safe.  Despite the whole swimming experience taking two hours (from leaving school, walking to and from the pool, getting all the girls rinsed and dressed…), it was so much fun to help kiddos in that way.

One thing I noticed about all the kindergarteners we were with was that each one of them interacted with every adult present with a spectacular level of trust:  that the adult nearby will help if needed, that the adult cared about them and would keep them safe.

Fr. Lyle, our substitute priest for a Sunday, gave a homily on overcoming fear.  He started with an anecdote of being a missionary in West Africa, where his compound was attacked by bandits with machetes, who injured some of his fellow missionaries and stole from the compound.  The story brimmed with violence and fear, Fr. Lyle sparing few details.

One of my kids climbed into my lap in the pew and asked, “Mommy, are there people like that here?”

I explained that we live in a safe house, in a safe neighborhood, and that our neighbors all look out for each other.

Later that night, the same kid asked me again:  “Are there robbers here?”

I told this kid that I had special protective powers that would shield our house from robbers, and sprayed imaginary Anti-Robber mist all over the kid and bed, and then over the whole house.  The kid asked this was my Superpower.

“Yep,” I told my kid.  “Mommies’ Superpower is to protect their kids.”

Then, a month later, the same kid had bad nightmares.  Like, fever-induced hallucination nightmares.  In trying to put this kid to bed a few nights after the original nightmare, I tried to get the kid to imagine a place where they felt super safe.

“My safe place is with you,” the kid said.

Mothering is about being the grounding, centering force for my children to always come back to, the surety when all else feels uncertain or scary.  The place where they are always accepted, always known, always belong.

 

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2017 10:36 pm

    I love reading your reflections Michelle…. You beautifully capture – and retell – the grace in daily life. I especially love that one of the kiddos named you as his/her “safe space”; you ARE a sanctuary person. (Not everyone provides security, welcome/warmth/comfort, and authenticity as adeptly as you.) Thank you!!

  2. Maureen permalink
    September 28, 2017 3:36 am

    Love this blog! A great reminder of the important part of mothering.

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