Dear Mama

The Sisterhood got together and decided to each write a small note to *our* mom for this Friday’s post. We all know that when it comes to our mom, we’ve got it made. So, Mom – here’s to you! ❤

The ladies, back in the day

L to R: Toni, Mama, Andreah, Jacqui, Julia

~~~

Mom,

After my labour with Sophie, I apologized for my own 40-hour birthing marathon I made you go through. Whenever the babies are sick, I’m so grateful for all the nights you sat up with me, your own sickly baby. When I say words that I’ve heard you say a hundred times to guide my babies, I recall where they’ve come from and am so blessed to have you helping to grow my own loves. Becoming a mother has given me so much more appreciation for what you did when we were young and what you still do, every day, for your grown daughters. You were and are incredible. Thank you for that.

This Mother’s Day I hope you take time for you, time to reflect on the journey you have traveled, and then give yourself the praise you deserve. I’ve discovered on this tumultuous journey of mine that mothers have to give a million times…and then one more. That even when the day is over, the tasks still go on, the care still remains, the love and comfort still continues. And I know that every day you worry over us, your girls, and our men and our babies and our futures and our lives, that you carry us still in your heart. I’m so grateful for that, but please, in your moments of need, remember how strong you are and how you have four very impressive progress reports of your parenting walking around, like (semi-)decent citizens, who are finding their way because you raised them to do so.

I love you, Mom. More than I can express, more than words can illuminate. Thank you for all you are and do. Thank you.

Love, Julia

~~~

Mama,

My guiding light, my northern star, my constant unconditional source of love – mama.

I’m not sure there are words for how much you have done and do for me, for us, for everyone that is lucky to be loved by you. Your benchmark is a lofty goal and I am not sure I will ever measure up.

Thank you for never giving up on me – even when I broke your heart and made it impossible to love me. That kind of love has been instilled in each of your girls and I see it in our lives – you taught us to love immensely and without condition and to forgive, always.

Thank you for letting me grow in my own time and never rushing the process. For knowing when to fight for me and when to let me duke it out. And when I got my ass handed to me, thank you for always being there to kiss my wounds better and wipe the tears.

You’re the mama I aspire to be for my step-babies – the one that friends and boys are warned about, the one they can count on to always be on their side and the one to give them the space and time to become their own people.

I am so thankful we’ve made it to the other side of this relationship and am lucky to count you as one of my best girl friends. I still have a lot of growing to do and will always need you in my corner. You’re our warrior and my mama bear.

Most importantly, thank you for deciding there should be four. You literally created three of my best friends and that is pretty amazing.

Mama, I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my mama you’ll be.

Love, Toni

~~~

Dear Mom,

For the times you drove to get me because you said to call you any time and you would be there.

For the times you sat up with me after a sezuire, and took on my battles like they were your own.

For the times you sacrificed the last fry for me …Thank you.

For the times you held me in your arms, and wiped away the tears.

For the heartbreaks and stomachaches that you soothed and healed.

For the never-ending unconditional love … Thank you

For the advice, and the words of wisdom – for making me remember who I am – Thank you.

Two words are not enough but they are all I have. You have done too much, you do too much and still you still strive and push for more. You inspire me, I am in awe of you.

Thank you for being the best role model a girl, young lady and woman could have – because of you I know that sometimes you have to fight through a heartbreak in order to find your Prince Charming. That education is a constant in order to achieve your dreams.

You are my mother, my best friend, my role model, my confidante.  You are my hero.

I love you Momma, and hope you know that I appreciate  you every day of every year, forever and always.

~ Jacqueline

~~~

Mommy, thank you. I literally cannot say those words to you enough. You are not only my mom, but one of my best friends. We have been through so much together, and have fought so hard for the relationship we have, and I am blessed to have had you right beside me fighting for me the same way I was fighting for you. I am also so incredibly proud of you. You have come so far, not just in your education, but from every pain and heartache from the past. I am so happy to see you smile and live such an amazing and happy life. You make it easy to come visit, and hard to leave. You have worked so hard so we could have so much. You have made me a better person, and gotten me to calm down so that I can have actual relationships with my sisters. You have brought us together, even when we were mad beyond belief and gotten me to work through my problems, even when I didn’t want to face them. You have given me more strength than you know, and I love you so much in so many complex ways it is almost impossible to describe.

You have been my rock, and my guiding star. You have helped me in whatever way I needed, and have given me and us so much of yourself. You have worked impossible miracles, and come up with solutions so simple that leaves me in awe, wondering why I didn’t come up with that.

Thank you for taking my anger, and loving me even when I wasn’t very lovable. Thank you for guiding me to my future, even if I was kicking and screaming the entire time.

Thank you for knowing that something was wrong, even when I didn’t want to admit it. I know I got angry at you that day you suggested I see and talk to someone, and I know I caused you pain when Jacqueline talked to you about that stupid day, when I almost made the dumbest decision of my life.

Thank you, Mommy, for the smallest things, to the biggest. Thank you for being there, and thank you for always being there; I wouldn’t know what to do without you.

I love you.

~ Andreah

~~~

What motherhood means to me

I have been blessed throughout my entire life with a wide range of mothers coming in and out of my life, but for the most part they all stay. They come into my life when I need them the most, even if I don’t think I do. They help me through the hard things, and hold my hand when I need them. They adopt me and keep me in their lives, and are never surprised when I show up to their houses unannounced. They are the women who raised me (and continue to do so), and it seems like it really did take a village to raise me, and because of them I always find the strength to move on to greater and better things in my life.

Motherhood to me is acceptance.

Acceptance is something I have always wanted for most of my life. I have always wanted to be welcomed in and cared for, it is something even to this day I crave. As the youngest of four girls I felt alone quite often in my life. Not always left behind, but more just brushed aside at times, especially when I wasn’t too lovable. My mom had her hands full raising all of us, and I came around when the rules seemed a little bit more relaxed, and when they weren’t quite expecting another one.

“She was your little accident,” my grandmother had said.

“I didn’t accidentally have sex; she is my miracle,” my mother replied sassily.

My mother, from that first moment, accepted that I was coming into the world, and she has never stopped accepting who I am and who I am becoming. The next mothers I have known are the women at our various congregations of our church, all of them loving to watch me and guiding me in small, but meaningful ways. They are the women in my life who I still call my ‘Aunts’ even though there is no actual relation. These are also the women that my mother coins as her life-long friends. Helping her raise me with a shoulder to cry on when needed, complain to when I was being impossible, and being another ear for me to voice my opinion and give me some insight into what my mother must be feeling.

Motherhood means listening.

I have a wonderful friend named Elena, and when I felt like I had nowhere to turn and was feeling overwhelmed in college, she and her mother were there to lend a third party unbiased listening ear to me. Whenever I see Birute, Elena’s mom, I still run towards her yelling, “MOMMY!” And whenever I am over and can actually get my butt out of bed, I still spend some wee hours of the morning sharing a cup of coffee and a little bit of catch up with her.

Motherhood to me means hugs.

I know that is a young thought, but think about it. Still to this day, whenever I am upset, have problems, or just feeling overwhelmed, all I want is a mommy-hug. There is nothing like a hug from a mother. It is warm, comforting, and just allows everything to lift from your shoulders. The only thing stopping me from saying that magic doesn’t exist is the mom-hug. It feels magical and is the one thing that feels like an instantaneous problem solver. Call me crazy all you want, but mom hugs are magic.

All of my various moms have had all of these qualities, they all accept me wholeheartedly, they all have listened to my various (sometimes overly dramatic, yeah, I admit it), problems, and all of them are always willing to give me that hug that I need so much on a constant basis.

However, motherhood, to me, is a beautiful, unconditional, all-encompassing love and the beautiful part? You don’t even have to be related to show this motherly love to people. I should know.

Thank you all my wonderful mothers, you know who you are, and I hope you know that you all are definitely counted as my blessings.

~ Andreah

Motherhood: I love this choice

When my sisters and I sat down and decided to honor motherhood this week, I have to admit I experienced a fair amount of anxiety about my post.

I didn’t know if I should write about what motherhood means to me because of the amazing examples in my life, if I should write about the part of me that as a woman, I’m not quite sure I have what it takes to be a mother, or if I should draw from my experience as a step-mama.

I decided to write from my heart.

Motherhood to me is a choice. It’s not a must-have right of passage because society deems it to be the way it is supposed to be, it is a choice. It is the conscious and sub-conscious choosing, every day from the day you decide to create life, until your last breath, to often put another’s needs, wants and desires before your own. It is a choice I wish more women would be more conscious of making. It is a choice I wish some women would realize they are allowed to choose not to make without fear or judgement – at least they should be. I love this choice.

Sometimes the children you choose to mother are not yours by birth-right, but are brought into your life because little did you know just how much you needed them. And sometimes you get to be the person they need. That’s the choice I made. It’s not to say that I won’t one day have a baby of my own, but for now, helping to raise Michael’s children is the right choice for me. Hearing M introduce me to her new host-family via Skype as her “mere”, the “I love you” I get unprompted from J when we’re dropping him off after our weekend together, lets me know that while I am not a necessity in their lives, I am wanted, loved and appreciated by them. I love this choice.

M, myself and J ♥

M, myself and J ♥

Sometimes the mothering we choose to do is for our siblings or our sibling’s children. These past few months I have caught myself on a few occasions mothering my big sister – standing up for her when she couldn’t do it herself, sending her for naps and time outs when I could see on her face she so desperately needed one, making sure she said “no” to people when she could not handle another responsibility being put on her and sometimes even refusing to let her handle the tough stuff on any given day. I love this choice.

Sometimes the only comfort good enough in the world is that of our own maternal mama. To this day, telling my mother about something that is hurting me, something I’m facing that is hard or even telling her I got a speeding ticket, can be the biggest release of emotion of all – even a week later when the wounds are not as fresh. There is something about the way my mom comforts me that gives my must-always-have-your-shit-together-self the permission I need to let go and let it all out. Sometimes I even choose not to be fully open about my heartaches to anyone but my mama. I love this choice.

Sometimes the mother we choose is our sisters. Recently, I received some news that personally reminded me of my own heartache I had been facing. Thankfully, my sisters were not far away. In minutes I found myself on Julia’s couch with a tissue box in my lap, earnestly being reminded that what I was feeling was not, as I had repeatedly referred to it, “stupid”, but completely relevant, real and appropriate. A tea, some more tears and a piece of Julia-baked cake later and my heart was reminded why God had chosen these beautiful women as my siblings and why life chose them as my best friends. I love this choice.

I love this choice!

I love this choice!

To all of the mamas out there: I choose to admire you, honor you (not just on the second Sunday of May), and be in awe of you. Your courage, strength, grace and wisdom are breathtaking. I love this choice.

~ Toni

An ode to motherhood

When we made this plan to write about motherhood for the week before Mother’s Day, I was stoked. EASY post. I am a mother.  A full-time-nothing-else-all-day-long-but-a-mother. What else would I ever write about?

And then I started to really think about it.

And all I could come up with was the usual stuff that I write about. The crap about motherhood. The hardness of motherhood. The complete unfairness of my motherhood journey. The way that motherhood has exploded my life, identity, world, body, mind, soul and perspective until I’m unrecognizable to myself.

And I thought, how depressing.

I did this. I had babies. On purpose. Heck, I had more than one baby. On purpose. So why am I constantly dwelling on the ugliness of this highly marketed, highly edited, highly misleading role?

Because for me, those parts, the parts that no one talks about, the parts you hide from poor, unsuspecting pregnant women, were the only parts that I could focus on.

So, why did I do this more than once? Why am I such a glutton for punishment? And why am I not alone in my craziness (to be a mom, not just my medicated, therapy-treated craziness)? Why are their billions of moms in the world and more being made and remade every single minute of the day (a quick Google tells me that a baby, and therefore a mom, is born (or reborn) 300 times in a minute)?

Because being a mom is kind of awesome. And not just kind of. It kicks ass.

For my Mother’s Day post, I thought I would give you my top ten list of why motherhood just might be the best job on the planet (you know, so all the pregnant or wanting-to-be pregnant people can breathe a sigh of relief).

1. You get snuggled. A lot. Babies, toddlers, and young children (which is as high as I’ve gotten so far) are great snugglers. They give the best hugs. They lay right on top of you without inhibition. They treat you like a Barcalounger, with limbs everywhere, their heads tucked under your chin, and their heat and yours keeping the world warm. They are the sweetest when they want to snuggle. And some days, the fact that my babies want to still snuggle with me makes me feel like I must be doing something right among all of the things I’m sure I’m messing up.

2. You get to be somebody’s everything. And not in a small way. In a BIG way. You’re the one they want when they need something. You’re the one who wins the opportunity more often than not to do their hair, kiss their ouches, fix their ears, hold their hand when they cross a street, help them with tricky buttons, stairs, colouring pages and sentences, be their protector when they’re scared of the invisible monsters or the very real dog, spider, giant Daddy who is chasing them. You are theirs in a way you’ve never been anyone’s ever before nor will be ever again. It makes you feel needed. Wanted. And powerful. Until they discover teachers and friends and other experts. But there is a window, however small, where you are the world. And that’s pretty cool.

3. You get told, “I love you” without agenda or prompting. This is probably one of the sweetest moments in my day, where one of the talking babies will come up to me, call my name, pull on my hand, grab my face between their hands, and say, “Mommy, I love you.” It makes my breath catch and stops the tasks that are running through my head into my feet just for that minute. There’s nothing like it.

4. You get a free pass to go to bed early. No, seriously. You’re not a wuss, you’re a freaking hardworking warrior who chases after crazy people, while juggling a job or a house or a yacht. It’s hard work, people, so do it. Go to bed early and embrace the fact that it’s still daylight out. You’ve earned it. I swear it.

5. You get a huge appreciation for sleep, hot food, and personal space. Related to points 1 and 4, this is solid proof that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. I can’t remember the last time I had a decent night’s sleep…or uninterrupted sleep…or sleep that left me feeling refreshed in the morning (Is there such a thing? Or is this again some awful marketing ploy?). Hot food is similar – if I don’t want to eat my meals cold, I’m shoving burning hot lava food into my mouth before the baby/toddler/kindergartner decides to start demanding things. Better to just let it get cold and suck it up. And personal space is a laugh. I don’t go to the bathroom by myself. I don’t eat by myself. At this very moment, I’m typing with Lillian on my lap. My body is theirs, my space is theirs, my very being is theirs. And that’s just the way it is. So if ever I find myself in a hotel room at 6 p.m. with a steaming hot plate of food on my blanketed lap watching television by myself, I’m going to enjoy the CRAP out of it, I promise!

6. You get to witness pure awe and joy regularly. When’s the last time you felt genuinely happy? Laughed with your whole body until your face hurt? Found happiness in something as simple as a pair of shoes or some stickers? Well, I get to watch people experience pure feelings every single day. And the best ones, by far, are the moments when something ridiculous makes them laugh insanely…like ripping paper.

Or when they see you and they light up, or you make them smile for the first time (and capture it on camera, of course):

Sophie

Sophie

Lillian

Lillian

Isaac

Isaac

That kind of awesome honesty? Nothing like it in the world.

7. You get to be part of a family instantly. Whether you’re a step-mom, a single mom, a mom to a blended family, a married mom, moms in a same-sex family, a mom in an alien family or a mom in an extended family, you are part of a family. A family of you and your children and whoever else gets to share in your life. The moment you hold your baby, there is more than just you in your world. It’s a huge transformation to go from being a single person to being someone’s family and have them be your family. Just like that. Sure, it comes with drawbacks (see point 5), but the idea that no man is an island is never more true than when you’re a mother. You’re not an island. You’re queen of a country. Or maybe you are an island and have been invaded by an army of crazy people. All I know is that you are no longer alone. You have a person and they have you. And that’s pretty damn amazing.

8. You get to watch a person be born. I’m not talking about the birth part, because, really, how many mothers actually get to ‘watch’ that? Not many. I mean the person your children will grow up to be.  You are there when they’re figuring out who they are, what they want to become, what they don’t want to have anything to do with. You get to see them fall in love with pieces of their world, learn how to navigate all of the social nonsense we throw at them, and come out the other side as their own human being. You and that child are linked by biology or necessity or choice and then you slowly become separate from them as they figure out how to exist without you all the time. It’s such an honour to bear witness to their coming of age. It’s a privilege that can be easily overlooked amid the potty training and the tantrums and the rebellion and the sickness and the daily grind, but the truth is all of those things lead us to the things that make our children the people they will eventually become.

9. You get to feel extremely accomplished. Not every minute and certainly not every day. Sometimes not every week. But there are moments, crazy-hard moments, where you look around and think, “I’m actually doing this. And I’m doing it well. I’m not screaming or crying. They’re not screaming and crying. I am a rock star.” These moments are when one kid is puking in the toilet while the other is peeing on the floor while the other is screaming because you’ve abandoned him on the floor to deal with everything else and you stop, after admiring the hair on the puking child, and calmly prioritize the tasks ahead of you and how much you’ll deserve the coffee at the end of the rainbow, and you have a moment of pride for the mother you have grown into. These moments are like a runner’s high for me – it was hard, it was a slog, it sucks, not everyone can do it and not everyone does it, but you’re there and you’re doing it. Kick-ass, lady. KICK-ASS.

10. You get to feel voracious, boundless love for other people. There are very few things in this world where the things you offer, do, and feel for someone else are perks. Where you get to put your whole self out there, expose it to all the elements of your world and their world, to worry about every breath and interaction and event and moment, and love them so much you want to wrap them in bubble wrap and throw away the key, and it turns out that panicky, anxiety-ridden, exhausting feeling is the best feeling in the world. My love for my babies is like nothing else I’ve ever felt. It is what gets me out of bed in the mornings. It’s what made me get pregnant four times. It’s what makes me grab whichever head is closest and take a huge inhale of their hair. It’s what keeps me from tossing them all out the window and keeps me from running away from home. The love I have for my babies makes everything else worth it. They are the best thing in my life. Period. Stop. The end. They are and my heart is for them and that is all.

11. BONUS! You get a whole day devoted to you and all the awesome stuff you do. And seriously. It’s awesome. And you’re doing it. So take a bow, a handmade card, a questionably made breakfast in bed, and a bubble bath, because you are doing a great job and it’s your day.

Happy Mother’s Day!

~ Julia

Guest post – The importance of moms

Ben, Julia’s husband and knight-in-shining armor, is our guest blogger today! He’s kicking off our Mother’s Day Week by writing about the mothers in his life. Watch for more posts about motherhood all next week in honour of mothers and their day, Sunday May 11, 2014. 

~~~

Mom: What day is it?

Me: Second Sunday in May.

This is a conversation I had frequently with my Mom. It usually followed my asking her for something. Can I go out to my friend’s house? Can you proofread my essay? Can I borrow the van (there’s no way I drove it as much as you did, right?)?

It was her unique way of saying “Yes, but make sure you appreciate this.”

This is to say nothing of the things that she provided even when I didn’t directly ask for them: a home, food (I ate A LOT), clothes. Things that are easy to overlook, until you have to provide them yourself.

Moms give.

Moms teach.

She had other, less subtle ways of reminding me of the importance of Mom (though I don’t recall her referring to herself in the 3rd person). I remember her driving to and from Confirmation classes, during which she would ask us to recite the Commandments and Articles of Our Faith, our memory homework. She would call out one of them and “volunteer” one of us to recite it. Of course her favourite has always been the fourth commandment (I’m sure she asked for this one more than any of the others). She could still ask for it today, and I would be able to tell her (here it is as I remember it):

Source: The Ten Commandments

Source: The Ten Commandments

“Hounor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

What does this mean?

We shall fear and love God that we do not despise nor vex our parents or superiors. But rather love, honour, obey, serve and esteem them.”

Moms drive.

Moms teach (because we have so much to learn).

I have no difficulty saying that my Mom has been one of the greatest influences in my life. But as I grew and experienced more, other Moms came into the picture of my life, with a similarly profound impact.

When I was dating my future wife (you may know her as Julia), I was warned by a mutual friend, not to upset the “Mama Bear.” She was fiercely protective of her girls. I’m happy to say, I made it through the courtship without being mauled. Our relationship started off slowly, tentatively, but it grew until she became my Other Mom. It is a title she has earned. I refuse to call her mother-in-law, or any of the other less savoury names.

Moms protect.

Moms accept.

One of the great parts of becoming a parent was watching Julia grow into a Mom. Even before we were married, she was a mother and champion to those around her. Throughout her journey with and battle against PPD, she has become a champion of the cause and made a number of new friends. She used her own experience to empathize with and inspire others.

When we were deciding how to handle Lillian’s unique situation, with the doctor appointments in Toronto, weekly speech therapy and complicated hearing equipment, Julia stepped up – instinctively – and became the stay-at-home mom. In the end, it was a decision that we made considering all the facts, although her initial reaction speaks to the Mom she is.

Moms help.

Moms nurture.

Moms work relentlessly work at a job that no one in their right mind would willingly accept.

 

What day is it? The second Sunday in May. Now what are you going to do about it?

~ Ben

 

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!