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'Just' Mothering

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

One of the enduring questions in my life is, "So why have you never married before you did (at 38)?" ...And it endures because my FIL asks it STILL (we've been married for ten years now) on a somewhat regular basis. It seems he can't seem to absorb the idea that I could get to the ripe OLD age of 38 and not have made that commitment. I think it adds to his confusion (I don't know this for sure) that so many others can see (including myself) I really do seem well suited to marriage. I'm an 'old-fashioned girl'... I place a high emphasis on self-sacrifice, and I DELIGHT in being both wife and mother. What he is saying each time he asks is, "how can I be who I seem to be and not have had someone 'snap me up' long ago?"

That I married the man I did also makes him suspicious... you see, my DH is 11 years my junior. And as much as DH's family welcomed me, and never gave me a moment's pause about marrying him, I know for a fact that they didn't expect us to last, and that it took a few years before they truly came to believe that I didn't have some sort of ulterior motive... that I wouldn't end up hurting their beloved boy in some self-serving way. My FIL summed it all up a few years ago, after watching me schlep meals to the hospital for my MIL's ENTIRE family (10 brother and sisters), and provide B&B services for a month while my DH's grandma lay dying... he said simply, "You really ARE a good woman, aren't you?" And he said it exactly as if the truth only just now seemed obvious to him.

I just smiled... I loved DH's grandma, too... she was so much like the Grandma I lost at age nine. It was a privilege to do anything I could to make her last days peaceful. I was the only one who had the time to focus on the family... and we live only five minutes from the hospital.

I don't know why the answer as to why I married so 'late' is so important to him, but I suspect he senses that there is more to it than I ever say, and that makes him nervous. The thing is, I've never told him the whole truth about why I hadn't married earlier... it's not like I didn't have offers.... several, in fact... and some which even broke my heart to turn away.

The total unvarnished truth is that it took me that long to get to a place mentally, emotionally and spiritually where I believed I COULD be a good, loving, and fully giving wife and mother... and long before that point, I already knew I couldn't have children, thus (in my mind) ruining me for the sort of man I did want to marry.

It's the 'whys' of this thought process that he couldn't bear should he know the 'truth'... that I had (and continue to have) a horrible relationship with my own mother, that my parents have a battle ground not a marriage, that I am an incest survivor, that I had a knack for choosing to involve myself with men who would never be the sort of husband with whom I knew I could live the rest of my life... my 'baggage' was monumental... trunks of it, and I generally loved most of the people in my life too much to saddle them with any part of it... let alone a man I loved or perhaps a helpless child that I was supposed to love into maturity regardless of my own neediness. I needed to be healed, and the baggage needed to be dumped, before I would consider marrying... and the person asking had to have a handle on their own baggage, too (unlike said men mentioned above).

Suffice it to say that by the time DH and and the Divine Miss O entered my life I was mostly certain I was now ready... yet I still worry about my ability to be a good mom. What I have the privilege of learning daily is that, even in my 'graceless moments' (thanks for that Veejay!), I am blessed beyond measure with blessed and holy grace beyond measure, to be who I am called to be as a mother... and our current struggle has taken even this aspect of my life to a whole new level.

You see... where I still feel I fail consistently as a mother is in making the big picture more important than the moments. If I can't do a job to completion, I'd rather not start. I'm just not good at doing things in little bites. I'm truly not a 'go with the flow' kind of gal. I lose my momentum and my motivation. If I'm scrubbing, cooking, tidying, fixing, washing... keeping the household 'machine' running on 'schedule'... I'm impatient with interruptions (so like my own Mom no matter how hard I try). "Mom, I gotta tell you something...." or "Mom, can I...?" are cause for irritation and impatience on my part. If it's going to make a mess when I just don't want to deal with a mess it doesn't happen. If it requires more energy than I feel I have, it doesn't happen. If it is going to take time away from immediate concerns, it doesn't happen. I try to schedule whatever it is for later, but often 'later' doesn't happen, either. It's not that fun and happy things never happen... they just don't happen as often as my DD asks... though being a kid, she is always able to find another 'happy' thing that suites us both in the moment... yet I still grieve the things that never happen... because moments CAN be lost.

This Sunday was a notable exception... and it is becoming much more the norm... the changes that are being wrought in my heart are reflected in this change.

The Divine Miss O wanted to know (as I was up to my elbows in a complicated recipe for supper) if I still had my wedding dress (I can't remember how it all came up), and if I would put it on for her. I started to impatiently respond with a resounding 'no' (it was going to take time I didn't feel we had) and then I heard other words come out of my mouth... "Just let me get this into the oven, Honey... it will take me 15 minutes, and I will do that for you, okay?"

The energy in the house CHANGED immediately... my girl was dancing, my DH snapped off the TV (!) and I had two people expectantly waiting for the great event, lol! ...And now I'm worried... what if I can't get it on?!!!

Off I go to get dressed... though it took some serious foundation garments and holding my breath (another of the blessings of marrying at 38... minor tweaking aside, I already was who I would be forevermore in most respects... I won't be mocked by an impossibly youthful body the rest of my marriage, and if I continue to work at it , I just may turn that notion around the other way).

My daughter is dancing and exclaiming over my beauty, and my DH is twinkling all over the place (much to my surprise), and I am a blushing bride once more... a moment of grace that would have been missed just two short months ago.

...And then the next question comes forth... "Mom can I try on your dress?" I don't know why, but my wee girl is suddenly obsessed with all things bridal and girly... we even just bought her little high heels to wear for Grandma and Grandpa's 50th wedding anniversary... I gotta admit they are super cute on her.

So we dressed her up (pinned and tied in the back to adjust the fit... on me the neckline is scooped and wide with the straps sitting wide on the shoulder just inside the top of my arms, and the waistline is Empire)!

DH and I both got teary and breathless... it was like looking into the future... when did she become SO self-possessed?

...I have a new mission... to make sure she NEVER loses this confidence and poise to judgement, and that anxiety over her body, or doubt over her worth in the world never give her a moment's pause.

...And I'm even more motivated to embrace the moments. The thing is... I didn't grab for this moment... it grabbed me. It is part of that 'just' business I was talking about. Sunday we were 'just' being, and we were blessed in so many ways. I can't find the words to tell you about the energy that filled our home and our hearts.

I've decided that we will dress the Divine Miss O in my wedding dress every Mother's Day from here on in. I want a touchstone... a place to return to in real time where I can watch her grow. No doubt the dress will always be too big, and ultimately too short... and eventually I won't be able to fill HER shoes (the child has REALLY big feet, lol)... yet there will be something else that binds us together... grace-FULL moments to punctuate the journey.

Here she is in her own Princess play dress showing off the shoes... I don't know who 'George' is (Walmart's feature line), but he must have little girls in his life... he so 'gets' them, and their mothers, lol!

...And then there is this one.. I don't know what sort of comment I made, but I got the 'are you kidding, Mom?" look:

That vase in the background... the one that looks like a big champagne glass with gerbera daisies... we bought it to celebrate 'good news at the doctor' day... it continues to bless us both, and feed our spirits, no matter how each day rolls....

...the Divine Miss O has been home from school the last couple of days... she's running and on again off again fever, she has skin sores that aren't healing, and she's on an emotional roller coaster. I just wanted to watch her and see what she's like throughout the day... I also figure fewer germs when she is obviously vulnerable are better. We took in her stool sample and had her Celiac panel done yesterday. One more step done!

"A mother's gift is to give life. But in the daily demands of feeding and forming, cleaning and cautioning, tending and teaching, her gift can get lost in the layers.

She needs to remember that her work begins with herself. To be attentive to others, she must listen to her own heart. To care for others, she must take time for herself. To teach self-love to others, she must act lovingly towards her own body and her time.

If she finds her own sparks, she will fan them in those around her. If she frees her own spirit, she will help others soar. If she focuses each moment by being wholly present, she will point the way to holiness and to God.

And if she truly lives, she will give real life to the world, not only in her children's bodies, but in their souls...."

"Lord, give me strength just for today
To lead my children in your way;
Oh, give me wisdom, Lord, and grace
To show to them your precious face!

And help me, Lord, to teach them, too,
The things of Christ so rich and true,
Just let them see in me, dear Lord,
Your holiness in life and word.

Keep me from sinning with my tongue,
From harsh, quick words that might have stung
Their tender hearts that trust me so
And watch to see which way I go.

Dear Father, keep my thoughts so pure
That they will always know for sure
My Lord has lead me all the way,
Lord, grant my prayer just for today. AMEN"

...And may all your concerns, struggles, anxieties and fears fall like ashes as you rise on eagle's wings, SOARING above all that would hinder you along this tremendous adventure of being and becoming all you are created to be. May the grace of God simply "overtake" you moment by moment. May the joy and victory of the risen Lord be yours in a very personal way... may you always be overwhelmed by the grace of God, rather than by the cares of life! AMEN!

{{{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}

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  • TAMI1691
    Beautifully written as always Ramona.
    Happy Mother's Day.
    2720 days ago
    This is what I get for not checking in regularly! Oy I miss so much!

    LOVE the photos and still can't get over how much Olivia is a little you!!! Beautiful!!! (but where's the photo of you in your beautiful dress?!)

    And as you do, you totally blow me away with the simplest of comments: "making the big picture more important than the moments"

    WOW did that sting and I'm guilty as charged. Over the last couple of weeks of 'just', that's still the thing that is hard to change. Making dinner/scooping the litter/doing this or that household chore is IMPORTANT, don't interrupt ME for something momentary!

    Boy-howdy! How many moments have I missed? A lingering hug, an extra smooch from the hubby, a snuggle/nudge from my kittens, a few extra minutes with a friend - THOSE are the important moments...

    And times like this spent with your family and marveling at the wonder that it is - THAT is just amazing!

    2720 days ago
  • LESA2.0
    What a beautifully written blog! The photos are just gorgeous. Reading this reminded me of a day when my two daughters, who were 3 and 4 at the time, had just watched Spider Man 2. There is a scene when Mary Jane is about to get married to someone she doesn't really love and she can't go through with it because she realizes it's Peter Parker that she really loves. She runs away from the ceremony in her dress, all giddy and rushing to Peter. The girls wanted to act it out and they wanted me to put on my wedding dress and be Mary Jane. At that time, the dress still fit. They were so amazed that I had anything that beautiful in the closet; they were used to seeing me in t-shirts and shorts. Anyway, it's a memory I'll always treasure.

    See, I am very good at moments. I will drop whatever's going on to play with my kids. I'm still a kid at heart. What I am not so good at is instilling discipline and order and rules. Sometimes I beat myself up over my inability in those areas. My mom was a softie, too, and I guess I'm re-creating the kind of home I grew up in. We all bring different talents to the mothering table and I think God sends us the children that most need what we have to offer. Since my girls are adopted, I particularly feel that way. We have been close from the start. I feel that they need love and friendship more than order and rules. They missed out on motherly love early in their lives and I am more than happy to make sure they get lots of it now.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your story and for reminding me of a happy day in my life.

    2720 days ago
    First word that comes to mind is "lovely..."

    What a lovely day, what a lovely gift from the holy spirit. (That's how I explain when words come out of my mouth that make the utmost sense, but that I don't feel myself forming.)

    I think the reason you and I appreciate each other is that we see and appreciate in the other what is different than our own experieces, as well as having many other things in common. I never doubted I would marry, and I was engaged at 28 to a man 9 years older. I learned a lot from him but, he as it turned out was too afraid of what the future might hold to commit to marriage. (His father died of a terrible disease that he had a 50-50 chance of getting.)As we've discussed, I have had many good role models for marriage and am surrouded by loving, supporting family. After that relationship painfully ended... I was the Helen Reddy poster child... "I am woman hear me roar!" I bought a house, made new friends, had more dates than weekends, and in short order met my now husband. Clearly, I wasn't as ready as I had thought the first time.

    But, I am the queen of distractability... I almost finish 80-95% of many tasks and have a terrible time with organization. My husband and two (I'm afraid all three may be) have Attention Deficit Disorder, and though never formally tested I wouldn't be surprised if I do to. I am great at "seat of my pants" stuff, and wrote some brilliant papers in University between midnight and 5am of the days they were due. It seems that if I don't have a deadline, I don't have a finished project.

    Thank God I was blessed with some semblance of intellegence or all might be lost sometimes.

    I mention this because I am thrilled for the knowlege and sense you are gaining from this period you are going through with Olivia's mystery malady. (That would make a good book title... and it would have to have a happy ending.) I pray that I learn to orgainize myself a bit better so that it's not always haning over my head, or making a huge clean up project before we want to invite someone inside the front door. I also don't want my own kids to have homes as cluttered as we are in ours.

    As always, thanks for sharing!
    2721 days ago
    Beautifully said!!!! Motherhood is a wonderful beautiful experience!!!! You are certainly cherishing every moment! emoticon
    2721 days ago
    what a wonderful mother's day tradition! your blogs are beautiful.
    2721 days ago
  • KARENE10
    Another amazing blog from an amazing person emoticon
    2721 days ago
    YOu are so special and grace filled! Continued prayers of healing for Olivia! I loved your blog! emoticon
    2721 days ago
    I can so releate to why you got married so late!

    I didn't have good role models for marriage either ... some that I saw were abusive, some were just indifferent ... none had a lot of joy. I couldn't see the point of marriage if I wasn't going to be happier than if I was alone. Fortunately, I love spending time alone or wuth friends so I could have spent my whole life single and it would have been just fine.

    I met Charlie at 38 and we got married at 40.

    I have to say, I would probably be thinking what took you so long too ... lol! You obviously were made to be a wife and mother. You excel at it. You have had to overcome so many difficult circumstances, and you have come through ... you really are awesome!

    You have so much to teach Olivia AND you learn so much from Olivia. You were made for each other ... :)

    I love that you got the lesson to be present to the moment. We miss out on so much joy when we aren't there!

    Thanks for the pics of Olivia ... I can remember wanting to dress up and be a princess, a bride ... or a number of other things ... lol

    You two have such a bond ... it goes beyond mother and child. It's truly a gift from God. You are so blessed.

    2721 days ago
    Beautiful blog Ramona and lovely pics
    thank you so much for sharing

    2722 days ago
    What a great blog!

    Thank you for sharing!
    2722 days ago
    Too adorable.

    What a great reminder that we have to embrace/be embraced by those special moments of childhood and make the time for them.

    2722 days ago
    Well, as long as she is willing to do the dressup annually, that sounds great!
    2722 days ago
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