I’ve already written about my Listen To Your Mother experience and posted those pictures. In hindsight it would have been awesome to wait, and post those all today for the first time. But as any mother knows, navigating life and plans sometimes just means that a winning day is one where you wake up and put on clean panties.
It bears repeating, though, how this experience was a heart changing one. Listening to the stories of these women, all brought together by a common theme, and knowing the same thing was happening in cities all over our nation, well it’s certainly a thing. One that I hope to successfully bring to Oklahoma City in the Spring. I think I can write a thesis, finish coursework, bang some hair, bartend some weddings and produce a successful Listen To Your Mother show…because I won’t be doing it alone. I’ve already received so many offers to help, it’s amazing. The possibilities are endless. So, we’ll see. We’ll see. Patience, isn’t that something that mothers strive to teach and to learn? Yip. And I’m not worried or fazed in the slightest, because I know that I’ve got support. It’s this tribe around me, that I live in.
A force of sheer powerful, loving, strength. It cannot be denied.
A huge part of that tribe is my best good friend Trish. She, right at this moment, is giving the Mother’s Day sermon at her childhood church in our hometown. The announcements have probably been read, the hymns have been sung, and in probably another five or ten minutes, she’s going to be up and speaking some beautifully written words. I’m going to link to her blog, rather than copy and paste, but please, PLEASE do yourself a favor.
Of all the time you waste today, these precious minutes won’t be part of them.
My tribe is also responsible for filling my heart with joy. I mention several of them in this piece, and am going to post the edited version that I used on stage. It would not have been possible without my beautiful Kizz. I didn’t even know about this until she mentioned it. We are both Mothering-non-mothers. Loving these kids that are in our life with our whole hearts. Also, my best example of what a teacher can do in a life, Bill Guy. . . Guyser, who unflinchingly leapt at the cry for help, co-editing the original blog piece and sending support by the bucketfull. To the parents of the kids I mention, My Sisser, an example of how to juggle a life, to raise two boys, and never break a sweat.
Becks, Gert, Maegen, Darci, Trish, TammyC, Janet, and Delbert, each and every one of you have blessed me not only by being in my life, but by giving me your children to love. No amount of thanks can possibly convey how I feel about you and your families.
I hope you are all having a blessed day. I hope you’re giving love, and being loved in return.
I myself have thrown away two dead bird bodies and cleaned up the remains of the third.
Love Is All Around!
I Am Not A Mother.
When I was a little girl, I would come home from church on Sunday, and after peeling off layer after layer of my itchy, scratchy dress I would reach my slip. My silky, soft white slip.
Sometimes I would pull it all the way up under my skinny arms into my armpits and pretend that I was wearing a very glamorous strapless gown. I might even add a piece of jewelry, or stick a flower behind my ear, or grab a clipboard and pretend I was Julie McCoy, Cruise director of the Love Boat.
More often than not, I pulled that long white slip up over my head so the elastic fit just around my face at the hairline, pretending to be Mother Theresa. (That’s not even remotely true. But it sounds better than pretending to be a bride.)
You see, I played bride more than anything else. I used to get my mom’s old frothy nighties and flounce around the house carrying some hard bouquet of plastic flowers that was crusted in dust, smelling like old people. I loved it.
I always thought it would be an easy path to take. It seemed so natural then, so easy to believe that the girl with the freckles and the big ears and the continuous string of unfortunate perms would grow up to find love and become a “momma.”
The first man who proposed to me . . . well, let’s just say the words were still hanging in the air by the time we’d picked out the colors and settled on our wedding party attendants.
Looking back, this clearly wasn’t a relationship based in any kind of reality. I mean (my hand to God on this one), at one time, this guy wanted to grow up and BE Batman. He would jump from house top to house top to “Practice” and while Batman is my favorite dude in tights and a cape. . . there was only so much of that I could take before I started eating my own hair.
I did marry the second man who proposed. he made me laugh. We started to think seriously about a baby. I used to pray that God would give me a child, but I wanted that child to come with a father. One who wouldn’t leave. I didn’t want to do it alone. I’d been a firsthand witness to how difficult that is, and I never thought myself strong enough to handle the task solo and I had doubts about this marriage. Yet, I yearned. The want in my heart and in my body was so real, that I used to talk to it. It kept me company. It filled me with hope.
Someday . . . someday.
After my fantasy marriage ended and I watched my “sweet prince” ride off to the nearest strip club, I began to pray that God would just give me peace. That He would replace that maternal want with a new purpose and the energy to forge toward it. Seek new adventures and quit thinking about how I will never have anyone to pass down “MeMe’s” Desert Rose china to.
I often think about the women in my life, in addition to my mother, who helped form and shape me into the woman I am today.
My mother taught me that I could be anything and do anything I wanted, and mostly, I have.
“MeMe” taught me that strength need not always show up with fanfare, that the most courageous thing I could do sometimes is just try.
Mary has taught me so much about faith, what it means in this life and how it can sustain us.
Auntie Carla taught me about ABBA. Lacy J Dalton. Blue cheese dressing and All My Children.
Nonna introduced me to Robert Redford in The Way We Were. She took me to see When Harry Met Sally. She spoke of grace and dignity . . .
“Ma” taught me that opening my mind also means opening my heart. That it won’t always feel pleasant and nice, but in such moments, we might find something even better. She taught me not to just follow my bliss, but to chase after it.
It was an amazing day when I realized that my prayers had been answered. Not in the removal of wanting my own child . . . but in the addition of sweet beautiful faces, born not from my body, but alive in my heart nonetheless.
I’ve been given Hayden and Holden.
Jack Ryder and Huddy.
Ally and Asher and Baby Anniston.
Peyton Ruth and Jantzen.
Aubrey and Karlie.
Gabe and Riley and Tanner.
Kory and Alli.
Jake and Jamie.
My heart splits wide open each time I see their faces, or hear their laughter, or listen to a joke or watch a magic trick or pull a finger and make fake fart noises.
I laugh till I cry at their serious dance moves, and worry and fret at what could face them with each new day. I’ve bought my weight in cookie dough, been there for births, seen the prom pictures, sat through dance recitals, graduations and weddings, rejoiced at birthdays, applauded performances . . . and slept at hospitals.
I’m physically related to only two of them, but they are all part of my family. Part of my ever-sustaining tribe. And I don’t have to be blood related to give love and be loved in return, I don’t have to share the same last name to play an important role in their lives.
I really don’t mourn that path not taken . . . not very often. I’m happy with where I am, sharing love with so many.
So today, as we celebrate Mothers everywhere . . . I wish you well. I wish you love and light. Be you a parent, or be you someone like me.
I am not a mother.
But I d0 dress up like one on occasion.