Feeds:
Posts
Comments

In less than a month, my son heads to college.

He is very ready for this.

I am a weepy mess. He is my firstborn and his entry into our lives was precious and amazing. It seems like just a few years ago that I changed his diaper for the first time. It was in the hospital and I had no idea what I was doing. He was somewhat patient with me and we got through this new experience (diaper changing) together.

Being his mother has taught me so much…. to slow down, to listen better (I have not always listened well, especially during the teen years), to cherish him and his sisters. My own sisters and I grew up with a great deal of loss and before becoming a mother, I had grown unaccustomed to cherishing people who too frequently vanished from my life. Becoming a mother made me realize the value and joy that comes with cherishing people who are in your life everyday.

When he was little, before he was a big brother, my son and I would read together every night. He’d pick a book; we’d read it and then we would cuddle in the dark. Every night, I would tell a story about a little boy and it went like this:

“Once upon there was a lucky lady. Do you know why she was a lucky lady? She was lucky because she was a mommy. But she wasn’t just ANYONE’s mommy. She was Aidan’s mommy and that made her very lucky indeed…”

And then the story would continue with some details about the adventure of the day that my son had been involved with.

I have truly been so lucky to have this boy in my life.

As he packs up to head to college in another state, so far away, I gird myself for the challenges of saying good-bye. He’s fairly independent right now – in and out of the house hanging out with friends. But at the end of August, he will be out of the house and living elsewhere. And that is something I’m not ready for – though my readiness is not at all relevant to the matter. He is nearing adulthood and he needs to leave the nest and stand on his own. He is ready.

I am not. Motherhood has been so much a part of who I am for the last 18 years, but I realize the daily chores and tasks of motherhood are coming to an end.

Now it is my job to watch him fly off into his own life…

 

 

 

Advertisements
The Trump administration is building “tender age shelters” for babies and toddlers whose only crime was to be brought with their parents to seek a better life.
 
I know I have friends who wholeheartedly endorse this policy. They think because immigrants “broke the law,” these families deserve to be torn apart by the US gov’t. This is unchristian and nothing advocated by Jesus. I am shocked to know people who think that the Bible verse to follow is the one used by Nazis and slave owners to prop up terrible laws. I am shocked to know people – devout Christians – would the in the crowd voting to crucify Jesus Christ because he also broke the laws of his time.
 
Sometimes laws are immoral. If our immigration policy is so broken, fix it. But don’t destroy families to do so.
 
Who employs these immigrants? What penalties are applied to them for breaking the laws? Why do we only blame immigrants who seek a better life and not the employers who exploit them?
 
Our government is creating trauma for children – this trauma will take a lifetime to recover from. It’s wrong. Please call your elected representatives and tell them to stop separating families at the border.

Next week, we have two important milestones – my oldest graduates from high school and my youngest two graduate from 8th grade. These milestones have created for me a tumult of memory.

I remember vividly putting my son on the bus for the first time. He was happy and proud and excited and puzzled at my tears. I did not plan to cry. But the tears flowed none-the-less. I remember when my girls “graduated” from Montessori. I most certainly did not plan for tears, but the tears came none-the-less.

I was shocked at the quiet that came when I put all three of my children on the bus for the first time. And that’s when I realized for the first time, nearly 10 years after becoming a mother, that motherhood is so much about letting go….

ALN1stday2007

First day of school for the girls… could they be any cuter, these three?!

Next week also marks the umpteenth anniversary of my mother’s death – she has been dead for more years than she was alive. Her time here was finite and short; the time without her has been infinitely long and grows longer with every passing year. She saw none of her children graduate from anything – not grammar school, not high school, not college.

I am the oldest girl in a family of three girls and my mother had been dead a year when I graduated from 8th grade. After my mother’s death, we had hired a housekeeper – today, she’d be known as our nanny. Her children lived with us during the summer. It was a chaotic time, but what I loved about that first housekeeper was that she expanded our family with her family just as ours shrank incredibly. My mother’s side of the family endured significant losses in the next few years – both of her parents died two years after my mother; her sister, my beloved Auntie Ronnie, died eight years later, also of cancer (like my mother). Ronnie, like my mother, left three small children behind. My adolescence was a time of chaos and loss and grief and discovery.

Our housekeeper had heard stories of how my mother had made my baptism and first communion gowns. She volunteered, for whatever reason, to make my graduation dress. I thought it was pretty.

IMG_5154

8th grade graduation – clearly I had entered “the awkward phase” of adolescence…

During the ceremony, a classmate leaned over and suggested that the sleeves were ripped. They weren’t ripped – they were loose as per the pattern. I was annoyed and embarrassed. I don’t know what possessed this classmate to point out a perceived flaw of my dress during the ceremony. But my middle school experience was full awkward moments so it’s no surprise that the ending of it contained one was well.

And next week, I witness all three of my children celebrate these milestones. My son is very much done with high school. My girls are so ready for high school. And I’m not ready to let go yet.

But let go, I must. It’s all part of the job.

The annual reminder…

IMG_0808

It is Mother’s Day this weekend.

I have been a mother for 18 years. Motherless for 44. My mother has been dead more years than she was alive. My children are older than I was when my mother died – they’ve already lived longer with their mother than I ever did.

And even after all these years, I am still conflicted about this day – this Mother’s Day holiday. For too long, it was solely a reminder of what I had lost. Now it is a celebration of my role as mother – but still a reminder of what I had lost. It’s a moment when I think about what might have been… what might I have learned… what might I have better understood about life and raising children. The “what ifs…” rise to the surface on this day, taunting me with questions that will never be answered.

My children are now all teenagers and there are times when it is pointed out that I am the most embarrassing thing to have happened to my children. Teen years are tough. I think they are almost tougher to observe as a parent than to endure as a teenager. My friends and I were so incredibly stupid and reckless as teenagers… (but those are stories for another time.) When I remember my teen years, I remember my friends. The teen years are the time when we move from being dependent children into the growing autonomy that comes with adulthood.

Not long ago, I realized that I have no idea what happens to the parent-child relationship after these teen years. I never had a relationship with my mother when I was a teenager – she died before I became one. And since my father died when I was 22, I never really had a relationship with any parent as a young adult. I graduated from college and became my father’s caretaker for his final days on earth.

Mother’s Day is bittersweet for me. The good news is that it’s moved beyond bitter to include the sweetness of watching my children grow up. I hope I get the pleasure of relating to my children in the near future as one adult to another.

That would be really something.

 

A death in the family

We just got word that my Uncle Tim died today – he was elderly; he had been ill; his death was not unexpected.
He was married to my mother’s sister – both my mother and her sister died of cancer in their 40s many, many years ago. My Uncle Tim was the repository of stories about my mother’s family. I had wanted him to meet my children but he never did. I had some of the most hilariously funny times at his house when we visited him in Ireland over the years. But I have not been back in a long time.
My parents and all my aunts and uncles and their spouses are dead now. Tim was the only one alive for many years. It’s inevitable but sad all the same. The immigrant’s ties to the family back home are loosened by distance but the ties with Tim remained strong just the same. I was lucky to have Tim welcome us into his home every time we showed up with questions about the family we lost when we were so very young.

Gifts at the table

GiftsWhen I see this table, I see gifts, many gifts. The plates are from my husband’s beloved grandmother Pearl, a tiny jewel of a woman. The glassware, Waterford crystal, is a legacy from my Irish mother; she collected the glasses; I added to it when I got married. The silverware was assembled as wedding gifts. The center candle was a gift from my girls. The table itself belonged to my parents, one of the first things they purchased after they married.

The meal we ate at this table tonight included vegetables sautéed in the chili oil and beriberi spices my son got me for Christmas.

We had a feast of gifts today. It was delicious….

Both my parents died young of cancer. I was young when they died; for a long time, I measured my life in what I had lost. But now, decades later, I see the gifts in my life. And of course, the most important gifts are not yet at this table – my husband and my three children.

In life, it is sometimes appropriate to acknowledge all that we’ve lost on our journey. Tonight, however, I celebrate the many gifts – the people who’ve supported me in my lief, and the gifts they’ve shared with me.

I wish all a merry, merry Christmas and a year full of gifts and gratitude.

Thinking of Mary

18 years ago, I was nine months pregnant with my first child. This beloved and wanted baby was due in the early days of a new millennium – if you remember, the Y2K fear ran strong in 1999 – we were being told that all systems could collapse due to a programming bug that meant computer programs might not be able to recognize years beyond the 20th century.

Being nine months pregnant around Christmastime, I could not help but think of another mother, a young woman whose pregnancy preceded her marriage, who had not planned to become pregnant by someone not her husband. Mary was God’s choice of mother for his son. Joseph, her betrothed, was initially unhappy to marry a pregnant woman, but then an angel came to him in a dream. And so Joseph married Mary and stayed with her and raised God’s child as his own.

When I was nine months pregnant, I was uncomfortable and clumsy and I would think of Mary on that long donkey ride from Nazareth to Bethlehem. I thought about the discomfort and the dust and the effort it must have taken for that couple to make that journey just prior to the birth of their baby.

When I was nine months pregnant, I went to see a friend’s child in a Christmas pageant – we arrived late and there were no seats. I stood for the performance and again thought of Mary and I thought of arriving at the destination to find “no room at the inn.” I thought of what it must have been like to go into labor in the stables, with no crib, no bed. I thought about what it was like for this young woman to lay her newborn baby in a manger, a feeding trough.

When I went into labor, it lasted for 23 hours; it was long and painful and at times, frightening. I gave birth in the hospital and came home to see my baby welcomed by our family. Ithink of Mary, laboring in the stables, with no family but her husband nearby. I know that she received gifts from strangers but she was in a stable far from home when she delivered her first child. She, too, must have had moments of fear and doubt as she labored to bring the baby to this world.

My son’s birth ushered in my life as a mother; motherhood has made me more connected, more aware of the links that join us together. Once, a child was born who was to be God’s savior on earth. Always this time of year I remember when I was large with child and I think of Mary and her journey to become the mother of Jesus. Tomorrow is Christmas and soon after, my son will turn 18. Tis the season for celebrating life on this earth. And tis the season for sharing our love, our care and our support with others.

From Luke 2:14 – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”