I was picking Sebastian up from school and ran into a beloved history teacher. He has taught for nearly 50 years and reminds me of Robin William’s character in Dead Poets society. He is wise and weathered and very much to the point. I told him Fritz was loving his class. He sat next to me and said “You should have more children. Many more.” He paused. Purposefully and for a time just shy of awkward. He went on further “Ive been at this a long time. Those boys are remarkable. Truly. Its not a thing I say often.” I was overwhelmed. It took me a beat to thank him as I wanted my gratitude to express how deeply moved I was by his compliments. He walked away and I was left with a deep sense of pride for my amazing boys and deep ache left by “you should have more children…’
I’ve struggled lately with writing for Motherlucker. I couldn’t pinpoint why and I let the ‘why’ of this writers block simmer. I knew the answer would come. That incredible teacher gave me my answer. I have been reading and watching all these magical women approach new motherhood with such bravery, grace and authenticity. I am in awe of my fellow Motherluckers but I felt a sadness- an acknowledgment that I have missed out. My sons are twelve and thirteen. Potty training, night feedings, postpartum anything are all distant memories. My reality? Leg hair, facial hair that needs shaving and man sized shoes. I cant lie. I’m jealous that these beautiful women are coming to new motherhood with a mindfulness I never had. My mind reels with the possibilities, with all the opportunities lost. What moments could I have enriched? Savored? Avoided? Motherluckers are writing a testimony to their humaneness in the chaotic, wondrous, miracle that is parenthood. They are writing love letters to their children, their spouses and perhaps most importantly? To themselves.
Its too late for me to help my babies precisely because I don’t have babies anymore. I am left with memories and myriad thoughts of ‘if only I had done…” David Whyte, a favorite poet, wrote “Memory is an invitation to the source of our life, to a fuller participation in the now, to a future about to happen…” I aspire to this; to using my memory to help me. The memories of my boys when they were round and dear and fit perfectly in my arms can enrich the now I have with them everyday. I can not go back. The past is no longer mine. But I will allow my memories to usher me gently to the present and inform me as to how I can best serve my sons today. They may no longer sit on my hip but my god how they live in my heart. How the love I have for these two humans has deepened beyond measure.
What I am taking from these beautiful Motherlucker accounts of motherhood is the invitation Whyte writes of; I will look back at how and who I was, at the choices I made and the consequences those choices had for my sons, good, bad and otherwise. I will learn from what I did and find ways to do better now. There is something freeing in this admission. I was a good enough mother. I could have been better. That isn’t self deprecation. Its honesty. And in keeping it real I am that much more motivated to do better now.
The past is gone. But this moment? I have it and Im holding on for dear life.