Better Because I Got to Be Your Mom …

places in your heart

For quite some time now, I have been contemplating how to best honor the depth of my appreciation for the three precious people who, more than anyone or anything, have invited me to grow into the next best version of who I can be in the world … and … who continue to stretch me beyond my own beliefs of what is possible when you open up to those places in your heart that you didn’t even know existed.

And I should share that I have hesitated to write this (for a very long time).  I have been reluctant because I would hate to think that my best efforts to honor my daughters with this tribute failed to do them justice … that my attempt fell short, in any way, of what I needed and wanted and desired to acknowledge.  It feels like an entirely ineffable task because there is absolutely no way that the totality of these remarkable human beings can be reduced to a paragraph or two … and because … if I concede to highlight only a small smattering of the magic in our moments, I must step over and omit  countless other things that are equally significant! Hence, my resistance.

It’s a conundrum of the highest order!  Even though I know there are not words … not enough words … and certainly not the right words to possibly express what being a mother to these three impeccable women has stirred within me, it also feels downright dismissive to perpetually postpone my attempt to capture what is in my heart and post it on this page.

And so, on this special day when we publicly honor and acknowledge motherhood around the globe,  I am inspired to give voice (at least a small bloggable snippet) to just some of what being the mother of Tiana Terae, Sherisse Shandell and Brittany Brooke has meant to me.

Childhood sisters

But … where on earth do I start?  I could begin by sharing that during my first pregnancy, I found myself thinking: “How hard could it be? People do this all the time … and more than once! If they can do it, I can do it.”  In fact, it would probably be fair to depict my pre-motherhood self as an acorn laying dormant, invulnerable and completely safe in the forest.  I was so damn put together before she arrived.  Solid.  Capable. Self-assured. Determined. In control.  I was convinced I had it all figured out. Yes, I could start here … but then again, maybe I should cut right to  the chase and speak about how the birth of my first daughter cracked me wide open. W–I–D–E open. Should I share how her presence rocked my world in the most magnificent and terrifying ways?  I could … but … how does one even begin to describe that kind of ecstatic moment?

With her twinkling eyes and a mop of dark hair … Tiana Terae, was chubbins and chuckles and cuteness to the core.  My soul tickled with delight at the sheer majesty of her beingness … and then spontaneously … the frighteningly fragile seeds of vulnerability that were tucked safely beneath my nicely defended exterior became entirely unguarded and totally exposed.  VULNERABLE … an ‘all caps’ kind of vulnerable. Insecurity. Joy. Anguish. Immense gratitude. Unadulterated fear. Indescribable enchantment. Unmitigated exhaustion. I felt blessed beyond comprehension and stretched beyond human capacity.

My precious, cherished, darling first born daughter, broke me open to experiencing a kind of love I never even conceived could exist … mother love. I had never imagined such emotion was humanly possible. And it rattled me to the core. I fiercely attempted to hold it all together with some semblance of grace … I couldn’t bear the thought of failing her and falling short of being/doing all that she so richly and rightly deserved! I floundered miserably as I struggled to hold tight to that people-pleasing, high-achieving, perfectionist self that I knew myself to be.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I would never, ever, not in a million years be the same person again.  I thought, in those moments, that I was losing myself but in retrospect I can see that my daughter’s inner strength actually saved both of us.  I had no idea that I would only really, truly find my authentic Self after I felt like I had lost my precious first born in the teen years.  But, unbeknownst to me … the very best was yet to be!

And sweetie, through it all, you were so loving and forgiving and tender and true.  You were  strong, caring, capable, and competent.  You refused to let my mistakes mar the making of the magnificent, miraculous, munificent masterpiece that is you.  You brought such light to the dark.  And, you still do.  You are so thoughtful, supportive, conscientious … and … incredibly trustworthy.  Your loving loyalty and unwavering commitment is entirely incomparable. You speak straight from your good heart … you are candid and honest and refreshingly real. And people feel safe and secure with you … because they truly are!   Because of you sweetie, I was inspired to heal the pains of my past. Because of you, I started upon the most life-altering journey of my lifetime! I was so lost and you helped me find me.  I cannot begin to thank you enough. I am truly so much better because I got to be your mom. ❤

Yes, it seems sensible to start there … but then again … maybe it would serve better to start with the incredulous bliss I experienced with my second born. Sherisse Shandell arrived with much less turmoil and turbulence in my heart.  I was more familiar with the landscape of motherhood … more prepared for the pearls and pitfalls of parenting.  I was more savvy than the first time … except during the nights. Even though she would sleep, I would wake up and check on her … often. Ridiculously often.  It’s crazy how vulnerable you feel when you are gifted with such an entirely irreplaceable joy … such a precious and cherished miracle.

Her safe arrival was such welcome relief. I had gone into labor for a few hours in my seventh month of pregnancy, and as a result, my final trimester felt somewhat fragile. There had to be stress tests because the measurements didn’t add up. And, she didn’t move much.  And they warned me that she might very, very tiny.  I tried hard not to catastrophize, but it was difficult to calm myself when my anxious mind taunted me mercilessly about how I dared to hold out hope that we’d get another healthy child. I was gripping her so tightly in my heart as I yearned for the moment when I would be cradling her tenderly in my arms. And so, when I found myself holding her for real  … all 6lbs and 13 ounces of her … it pained me to let her go … to set her down. I was derailed by the fear of what might happen … if I left my post … if I turned my back …  if I actually dozed off …………………

And despite those incessant neurotic nigglings, she sweetly and gently invited me to simply bask in the many joys of motherhood. Less frantic. More assured. Deeply blessed. Dare I say more comfortable. Yes. More confident.  When her dad left to work away on the rigs for three weeks (just two months after she arrived), I remember the hours that I just sat there in solitude, during the dark of the night … swelling with gratitude as I watched her sleep. Or while she nursed … I would gaze into her eyes with absolute reverence for our seemingly clandestine, post-partum nocturnal tryst while she gripped my finger as though she would never ever let go. Surreal. Sublime. Entirely divine. Unmitigated bliss.

SSL - 6 mos

Sweetheart …. through the years, you inspired me to grow into a more humble and conscious parent … more responsive than reactive … more pensive than perfect. You were so reflective and considerate and open to seeing all sides of things.  Your benevolent being invited me to step into being much kinder to everyone … including myself. Because of your gracious, kind and magnanimous heart, I began to realize that despite my various shortcomings, maybe just maybe … I was enough.  Maybe, just maybe, I was worthy of your love.  You were such an exquisite embrace of all that is exceptional, heartfelt and true … the purest essence of empathy, compassion and integrity.  You would intuitively see the hearts beneath the faces and the tears behind the smiles.  You still do. And I thank you from the deepest place in my being for all that you are sweetheart. I am so much better because I got to be your mom. ❤

But, then again, maybe this tribute would be better served if I began by speaking about our  debate/decision to have a third child. Almost three years had quickly ticked by and although my husband was content parenting two adorable, ruffly, pony-tailed cherubs … I was not yet convinced our family was complete.  So, I tendered my best argument in favor of a third … not really sure how I would actually manage it, because it was around that time that my husband had started working construction by day and was farming by night. We decided that it would only be feasible to have a third child if (s)he could arrive between mid October and the end of February (when farming was not such a demanding part of the equation).  It seemed like a ridiculously short window  … and so … we agreed to let the Universe decide.

I had done the math in terms of maximizing conceptual probabilities, but life got in the way and I sadly suspected that we had missed the optimal moments to conceive.  So … I can assure you it felt like nothing short of sheer rapture and rhapsody when I began to feel the twinges of new little life stirring within my body. What??  Wait. No … don’t get excited. It just could not be. And when the pregnancy test came back negative, I chalked it up to wishful thinking. But … I still kept feeling pregnant.  And, low and behold over time … it was confirmed that our new little love was due to arrive on February 26th … just two days before the official ‘there will only be two’ deadline. So, although our little angel was so strategically planned, she was also a magical, miraculous and welcome surprise!

Once again … I am without words to describe the abundant glow of grace that circled my heart space and nourished my soul with the news!  And many asked if we were “trying for a boy”. No. Nope. Nada. Not for one little minute. The prospect of wrapping our third little cherub in pink ruffles and lace was not only practical (we had all the girly stuff) … but … deliciously delightful because we already had precious proof that we made really, really, adorable girls.  Yes we did!

And, much to my surprise, mothering my third daughter took me to a whole new vista … to brand new and completely uncharted ground. I found a stronger semblance of faith in the divine order of things. Trust. Surrender. Optimism. Confidence that although I still had so much to learn, I probably wouldn’t/couldn’t mess her up completely.  I trusted that she was going to soar despite me, not because of me. It was both humbling and liberating! Brittany Brooke tickled our hearts with her gregarious giggles, her enthusiastic charm and her highly determined “I do dat” chutzpah.  She wore her ‘joie de vivre’ as boldly as the unique color combinations that she picked out for herself by herself. She knew exactly what she wanted and zealously pursued all her dreams, desires and delights … with the most radiant sense of abandon.  And she still does.

BBL - 6 mosHoney, because of your eager, energetic and enthusiastic attitude, I was witness to how you claimed and embraced the juicy joys along your path.  I so admired your “all in” engagement with possibility and your persistent pursuit of whatever made your heart sing. You are the most picturesque portrayal of pure potentiality and passionate promise. With your sparkling spirit and affable attitude you adeptly demonstrated how one can proactively seek out and savor special moments rather than reactively just accepting what comes along. Because of you, I could no longer deny my own intrinsic pull towards resurrecting my dusty dreams. I allowed myself to pursue my own passions. Growing. Stretching. Blossoming. Becoming. Because of you, I continue to explore/evaluate who it is that I would most want to be and what it is that I would most love to do … thank you for that honey. I truly thank you.  I am so much better because I got to be your mom. ❤

And although these reflections represent merely a sliver of what lies within each of you … and offer just a wee glimpse of the space that we share with each other, I wanted to acknowledge, in some small way, the big difference you have made in my life. You have gifted me, in terms of my own growth and evolution, in such salient and significant ways. As children, you helped me make peace with my past, find the grace and goodness in the present and shape a future that honored my deepest dreams and desires.  As adults, you continue to nourish my soul and kindle my internal flame. The best parts of my being have been inspired because of you.  I honestly believe that our relationships go far beyond that of mother and daughter … they represent my deepest and most meaningful expressions, experiences and examples of LOVE.  

And so, on this day devoted to honoring motherhood … I am thanking my lucky stars that I got to be your mom. It remains an indescribable joy … a priceless gift that I deeply cherish.  And, I must also say that my heart skips a beat when I see your own mother love spilling so richly over my precious grandchildren. The radiant and reckless abandon reflected in that kind of love tickles treasured places that are tucked deep in my soul and it takes my breath away. Every. Single. Time.

Happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful daughters … who are three of the most exceptional mothers on this planet!  I love you … from those places in my heart that I never knew existed until I got to be your mom!  ❤ ❤ ❤

             Tiana Terae       Sherisse Shandell       Brittany Brooke


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