I often think that life is about the big stuff. marriage. pregnancy. motherhood. and how to glue all these things together to make it as good as possible. but today as I was blow-drying my hair, I saw my son running around the house wearing his winter hat and holding a spoon yelling "I am a magician!" while my other son came to me and asked "what's that?" pointing his finger at my bra. and then it hit me. maybe life is more about the little stuff. the stuff we think are meaningless and insignificant. the stuff that happen between the big stuff. right now my boys are playing human hotdog with their Dad who keeps asking them how much they love him. usually I would not stop and stare. but I do today. because this is also what my life is about. I realize that now. and I don't want to miss one bit.
there's nothing more exhilarating than watching my son laughing. not giggling. really laughing. his eyes are like two horizontal brackets and his mouth is so wide open you can actually see that little thing hanging between his tonsils. his face has 300 different expressions of delight. a symphony is playing in his little body celebrating life and endorphins. he's laughing like his innocent heart is about to explode in a thousand colorful fireworks. like nothing else exists. I'm witnessing wholeheartedness. and I could stay there watching for ever.
while driving home I'm thinking that I could hit my head against the steering wheel until I bleed if only the perspective of pain was not so frightening. I'm crying. and I'm heartbroken. I don't know why and how it all started. I think we adults have the ability to delete the shameful and embarrassing very easily. I would have forgotten too, I think, if only my boy hadn't come to me and hugged me saying "Mommy, I'm scared because you're not happy with me". I become numb. is my heart still beating? I don't think so. the guilt is so harsh that I could almost choke. I don't even know why I yelled at my sons with such fierceness. no matter what they did nothing can legitimate nor justify that. I do not deserve to be their mom. I truly don't. how can I write about the wonders and beauties of motherhood and yet be such a lousy mother most of the time? I have a meeting today I can't avoid so Sean and Will have to spend the afternoon at daycare. I can't wait to go pick them up and hug and kiss them and tell them how much I love them. because I do. God knows I do. I only hope remorse and guilt won't have killed me by then.
I can think of no word or combination of words to define motherhood the way I actually feel it. it is a whole. a big whole that transcends common sense and English vocabulary. a lifetime assignment that I am now fully embracing and that gives my life a sense of meaning and value. today's session with the child therapist revolved around the kids entering kindergarten next September and whether they will be together in one classroom or separate in two, growing up with two languages, two cultures, educational stereotypes and 4 year-olds' innocent cruelty. I know. there's still so much to do. the road is long. and it's going to be hard sometimes. most of the time. but I believe that if I've made it so far maybe I can make it a little further. and I have little glimpses. I see open notebooks on the family dining table, I see piano lessons, I see popcorn and Star Wars DVDs, I see laughing, I hear loud music in the car, I feel love. and this brings tears to my eyes. because it is not a fiction. it is real. and it's all there waiting for us.
when I was pregnant I naively thought that I would be the unique hybrid version of the perfect mom-wife-woman addition. like those we see on Pampers TV ads and who are so comfortable wiping other people's babies' butts. but it has been something completely other than that. becoming a mother has enabled me to grow and evolve as a person but definitely not like I had expected. birthing children has developed a profound sense of compassion in me, not only for other mothers, but for the woman condition in general. I hear words such as breast cancer, children custody and single mother and I just know. no, I can't possibly know. but I feel.
I feel the frustration, the anxiety, the doubt, the exhaustion and despair. but I also feel the courage, determination and hope. writing on this blog I have never been prouder to be a woman. we mother. we cure. we save. we juggle with more than two jobs to feed our children. we defend. we teach. we manage to pursue a career and raise happy kids. we love. we love so much. we have flaws and imperfections yet we see astounding beauty when others only see the ordinary. we are emotional. we fall but we always rise up again. eventually, we always triumph.
in my fantasy world no woman is hurt. they live freely for the joy of giving, loving and dancing. they face no adversity, emotional or physical pain or trials of any kind. and they are never, ever separated from their children. but such world does not exist. and life is difficult. and so unfair. for all of us. but I am stunned. I am amazed. because every minute someone in this world is birthed, healed, loved and blessed. every second a life is reinvented and finds a sense of purpose because of a woman. we are more than we think we are. we can do far more than we think we do. I think God has given us something that drives us even when there's no visible hope. I believe it is a woman's soul.
"we don't really know what's going on with our Mom these days, but we want to thank you. we don't know what she's frenetically typing on her laptop every morning or eagerly reading that makes her smile and giggle like that but we've rarely seen her that happy, except of course, when we do our little bootie dance or say the fabulous 3 words. we love our Mom and it was hard to see her crumble and cry of exhaustion at times. we understand that it might have been frustrating to take care of us for the last 3 years though she will never really admit it. she loves writing. and she loves people. she's always had. and having the opportunity to share what she loves doing the most with genuinely caring, inspiring and awesome ladies like you is something she's deeply grateful for. you have taught our Mom about compassion, courage and inner strength. but most of all, you have taught her simplicity and humanity. thank you for opening her eyes to a world of endless possibilities and her path to a new journey she's now ready to fully embrace."
from Sean (tiger and ballerina) and Will (cave man and mermaid), 3 years old.
bashful beams of light tell me that it's morning already. I am still swinging and floating between two worlds. I love those few seconds before I open my eyes. I can hear my husband snoring and feel his heavy left foot on my right leg. it gives me an odd sense of connection. I feel safe. my son Sean's head is resting on my left arm. as he cuddles up to me I am moved by the touch and feel of his little body pressing against mine. he seems peaceful, like he's home. a few seconds later, my dog is vigorously licking my ear. I like to believe that it is her way to say good morning. I don't know if I am repelled or touched. it is a little hard to breathe. we definitely need a bigger bed I think. then I hear this familiar little voice. my other son Will is awake and patiently waiting for everybody to get up. but he has found a curious thing hanging outside the blanket. that is my left foot. he giggles. the most beautiful sound in the world. he starts talking to it. then he hugs and kisses it. he's no stupid. he knows this will wake Mommy up. and it does.
I don't know a lot about life. about the world as I seem to glimpse it. about the universe I'm evolving in. I don't know much about motherhood. about friendship. very little about marriage. but this morning I have been reminded of the value of life. of the act of giving. and unconditionally loving. illness, anxiety, fear, doubt and guilt have reminded me that I need to embrace my life rather than constantly try to control and perfect it.
today I have been reminded of the six hundred different reasons why I married my husband and the millions why I love my children. and I guess that is all I need to know.
"my dear son,
right now I know you're going through a roller coaster of new emotions. you're obsessing about friends, sex, studies, money, but mostly sex. you realize that your parents are flawed and have shitty tastes in music. you want a different haircut, different interests, have a different behaviour than those we approve of or expect from you. you need to question every value we have taught you, every truth you believe in so as to shatter your psychological balance and make the transition from the adolescent to the man. we know it's a hard time for you, but we understand that it may be the only way you're going to figure out who you are and who you want to be.
my dear son. I've seen so many things. things I hope you will never see. I've seen people killing people in the name of ideology, religion and race. I've seen the earth raging, I've seen children starving. I've seen horror, I've seen evil. but I've also seen beauty so glorious that I could almost choke. I've seen Love. I've seen bravery. I've witnessed miracles. these I hope for you to see. for they will make you a better person. life is difficult but there is not a difficulty that can't be overcome. enjoy the moment, learn from the past and focus on the future. pray every day. be open to all kinds of music. music will enrich your spirit and uplift your soul. follow your instinct but listen to others. I know you probably don't want to talk to your mother so hopefully throughout the years you have built a network of reliable and trustworthy elders to guide you in your life. your golf coach. your music teacher. talk to them. always hope for the best. recycle. volunteer. remember that all people deserve your respect no matter their color, social status, religion, culture and personal beliefs. but stay away from extremism. watch good movies. be a loyal friend. and be a good brother. always be grateful for what you have. and know that you never give too much. if you're lost ask for directions. learn how to forgive. treat women with respect. please don't smoke. never, ever drink and drive. read as much as you can. widen your horizon. love unconditionally.
I know that I am not a perfect mother and I realize that I can't protect you from everything. but I did the best I could. and I have faith in you. so remember that I love you. your father loves you. we've always have. never, ever doubt or question this. there's still so much I want to tell you but right now you're happily showing me your little bootie so I can wipe it.
so, my 16 year-old son. go. and embrace your journey.
God bless you always, your Mommy"
given the opportunity what event or people would I want to erase from my memory?
there are pains that are so harsh that some days I want to bang my head against the wall and trigger selective amnesia. the one time I've been deceived and betrayed by the person I love the most and lost the trust I had placed in him. my father and the violence I've been exposed to as a child. probably also that one time I let out a big loud fart in front of 10 people. 15 years later I still blush when I think of it. but of course erasing these events and people would mean erasing all the good things that are intricately and intimately linked to them. the birth of my kids, the first 12 years of my life, the first time I fell for a boy at church. those things feed my memory with senses and emotions, colors, fabrics and sounds that shape my heart, mind and soul. there are invaluable and essential.
how decisive and meaningful are the bad things that happen to us? how much do they influence and teach us about who we are? do they unconsciously dictate the way we respond to life? are they as important as the good things?