part-time mothers

I finally cried. Not just a little; instead, the take your breath away variety.

I got through the entire month of May ~ watching Emily graduate from college and Sara graduate from high school ~ with nothing close to a breakdown. And then it happened. I slipped on my Asics, grabbed my iPhone and earbuds, and started up my street for a walk. In less than a block, little tears popped up unexpected and trickled down my face.

I blame Sara Bareilles for this. I blame Send Me the Moon. I shouldn’t have listened. But I did. And when the deliciously sad song came to an end, I listened again. And again. Sobbing until I had to stop walking to suck air and see.

I guess I finally stopped trying to cover all the fractured parts of my heart. I stopped being cheery and brave. And fake. I stopped trying to act like I believe people who say things like you’ll just love how much freedom you’ll have when the kids are gone. You’ll be so happy getting to do your own thing. 

The minute I stopped trying to copy and paste a good attitude, grief assaulted me. With a fury. That kind that pulls you down so fast and deep, you wonder if you’ll breathe again.

I’ve tried so to outrun the beast. With ideas and projects. Surrendering to the busy. And in that, there was confusion. I thought about a pie project. Pie blog, that sort of thing. (What the what?) Thought about training for something. (Um … okay.)  I also entertained downsizing. Selling the house, our stuff ~ moving. Psychologist call this un-nesting. It’s what mothers do when they’re ready to say good-bye and move on with life.

Not me. I’m not ready. Because these years with my children have been so beautiful. So beautiful.

But mothering is part-time.

When you look at the whole span of your life ~ and count up the years these precious children share your home ~ it’s just a part of your life. A small part, really. It will end. And then there is a good-bye.

I’m usually okay with good-byes especially if there’s something bigger and better waiting. But there is nothing conceivable to replace what my kids brought to my life. No project or idea or radical move could begin to soothe the grief spilling out of this mother heart.

So on that walk, I did the only thing I know how in situations that don’t make sense. That hurt inexplicably. That seem wrong, even though they are right.

I said thanks.

And through tears, I agreed with Truth. I said this is the day and I will rejoice.

I don’t have any illusions this was my final teary day. It’s not over. Not yet. But I am a step closer to Truth. The kind that doesn’t entirely make sense but is entirely trustworthy. And I will let Truth rise up in a stand-off with my feelings.

And Truth will win

… yes?

It’s rebellious in a way to choose joy. To choose to dance, to choose to love your life. It’s much easier and much more common to be miserable. But I choose to do what I can do to create hope. To celebrate life and the act of celebrating connects me back to that life I love. ~  Shauna Niequist

PS. Marching orders for all moms like me, listen to a sample of Shauna Niequist’s Cold Tangerines here.