My sister in law has given me some serious gifts over the years. Beginning on Mother’s Day, about eight years ago now, when after a few sort introductions she jumped off the back deck and started playing with my boys. She didn’t know it at that time but the quickest way to my heart is through wanting to know my children.
Then she gave me the gift of committing to love my brother for the rest of her years. My brother has been one of the heroes in my life and I wanted nothing more than for someone to see his giant heart and commit to tending to it.
Then there was 2012 when she birthed her first son and again in June of 2015 when she brought another little dude into our family. Lately, though the gift she has been given me is bigger than I think she knows. She has been handing me the most vulnerable parts of her mothering journey and trusting me to witness her there.
In this world of mommy wars, tiger moms, helicopter parents and whatever trendy terms I have missed listing, mothering takes on this sort of competitive edge. Where one can end up building a wall of “I got this” all around themselves and quietly struggling through the days that challenge our own sense of value in this important role. It can lead to the sort of isolation that make us feel unworthy of the title mom, incapable of doing it well and lost in our heartbreak as our hearts walking on the outside of our bodies take us to places we never even knew we hurt. And I know these places exists because I have been to all of them, more than once.
When my sister in law picks up the phone and calls to talk to me from that place, she creates a space for both of us to be real and raw about the struggles that come alongside the celebrations. I get to remember back to what it was like to be in the dark places, admit to her that they still show up even 14 years in and together we support each other. With the sorts of reminders that say “You are a good mom because you care enough to notice when things feel a little side ways.” And “it’s okay to have a bad day, in fact it’s probably modeling some stellar coping skills to your children.” But wider and bigger than that we get to witness one another heart to heart in our most vulnerable places and walk away better human beings. The more often we are willing to choose vulnerability over shame, as mothers, the stronger we come out for our children.
So let’s all decide today, just around the corner from Mother’s Day, to stand side by side in all the hard places and the celebratory places and hold each other up instead of tearing each other down. To set the course for more confident, compassionate caring human beings, both in ourselves and our children.