Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Dearest loved ones,
I am writing to let you know that I am sorry. I am sorry that I've spent so much, too much time agonizing over my own deficiencies when all you've ever wanted was my attention and for me to be at peace. It started when you were babies and I came home, stayed home all day. My own mother, and her mother before her, had been so very efficient at washing clothes and mending them, making savory and comforting meals from out of leftovers and pantry staples, mopping floors, weeding a garden - keeping house. So I waited, waited for the instincts to kick in that would help to control the chaos which had swallowed our small apartment; I waited and waited and waited but they totally stood me up - they totally stood me up and so I read.
You have no idea, my darlings, how much pressure there is on a young mother to keep everything in order: your behavior, the grocery list, our messes. I borrowed and purchased used manuals on bread baking, clutter clearing, schedule keeping, and discipline. I devoted myself to the process of transformation - to becoming my friend serving homemade granola and flax meal muffins to her toddler, my neighbor with the labeled bins and laminated chore charts, the woman in my Church with the hand sewn nativity calendar, to becoming everyone and yet no one in particular.
I apologize for the ruined laundry, the hundreds of resolutions I could never follow through on, for teaching you nary a handicraft or a foreign language; I apologize for shutting the garage door on our minivan. Somewhere along the way it ceased to be about your welfare and more about my own pride, insecurities, and envy. I wasted hours on treating the symptoms instead of the cause of my discontent. I'm a wreck, children, when I cease to nail my flesh to the fear of Christ- which is different, mind you, than talking about Him or making references to His goodness in conversation. When I reach the point where nothing truly matters but the obtaining of my salvation, when my only motivation for speaking, redirecting, beautifying, entertaining, forgiving, writing, sacrificing, spending, befriending, volunteering, educating, and worshiping is love for Christ, plain and simple, I will lose myself and then rid myself of the pesky expectations so irrelevant to the existence I was created for.
So here's the deal, my sons and daughters, your mother is not gifted in the art of domesticity, she is impulsive and somewhat flighty, quite capable of getting lost in her own neighborhood. Though I may serve the same five basic dinners to you over and over and over again, though your batman suitcase may always be stuffed with mismatched socks whose partners I've misplaced and will most likely never find, though I no longer have any idea what is molding inside the Tupperware containers in the refrigerator, there is still plenty I can offer you as a parent:
I promise that I will stay loyal, stay loyal and devoted and invested in your lives. I promise to own up to my own mistakes. I will talk with you about anything; don't be ashamed or embarrassed to approach me. I will enjoy you. I will try to be more patient. I will focus my energies on becoming less obsessed with the ever rotating, new and grandiose schemes promising to improve my experience as a homemaker and more consistent with our family prayers and my personal prayers and remembering those who are struggling with pain or loneliness. I will do my best to keep all of our daily frustrations in perspective.
I used to think that I just wasn't mom material, which was true I found out if by "mom material" I meant "Stepford Wife," but raising mute and passive offspring without the messiness of free will to make things complicated now sounds awfully morose to me. I am certainly no expert on child rearing but I do believe (finally!) that I am the best mother for you, Elijah, Priscilla, Benjamin, and Mary. I believe that I will one day be held accountable not for how successful I was at getting the poster paint out of your jean shorts, but for how much effort I put forth toward to your spiritual development. I believe you have revealed to me just as much, if not more, than I've passed on to you so far about faith and resilience and mercy - about the second, fifth, millionth chance we are given to get it right. Thank you for that and for everything.
I am here for you...always.