A few weeks ago, in the early spring of Washington D.C. a woman and artist I know only through Facebook, Margaret Scott, posted a series of images that I've saved to share with you this Mother's Day week.
Let us start at the top.
and work our way down
to the bottom....
Margaret explained that what we are looking at is the hard, but fruitless work of a Robin attempting to build a nest on her sister's front porch. I read her sad words, "The robin was simply unable to build its nest. I
suggested to my sister that we have had a very dry spring and so she
watered all this debris."
A few day later Margaret again posted- "The robin was finally able to build her (rather
sloppy) nest. Took this picture this morning. She's all moved in. All
it took was a bit of water to hold her home together."
With these images fresh in your mind, let's talk.
This is a Mother's Day special, but let's start with all the daddies who make the choice to
help build the nest, who labor to feed
the hungry child, who rejoice and weep both when the nest is empty
again. To me, their labor of love is twice as sweet knowing that they
have nothing tying them but love and a determination to see their child well. They have no umbilical cord. They have only feet and hands and heart. This is gives them a choice. They are not bound by any physical matter, and they may use their feet to run, but they can also use their hands and heart to love. It's a choice.
Think about the hidden gift in planning parenthood, and in sexual and economic education and freedom for women.
It gives mothers this choice as well as fathers. It gives them feet. It gives them the same
physical ability to say no and walk away from parenthood as men. It also gives them the ability to plan, relish and treasure
parenthood when they are ready to choose it.
The ability to say "No" makes the "Yes" and the labor, the effort, the love... twice as sweet.
yes, when you don't have to, to live a life shoving nesting material
where it simply will not stay - until it does stay - that is a gift of love
that I find quite touching. I think every family deserves to be the
result of both parent's saying yes, and choosing to devote themselves in
this manner. (I'm not blind to the other side of planning
parenthood, that's not what this post is about. This post isn't about
something ugly. It's about something beautiful. The determined and
forever love of a parent for a child.)
Contrary to anti-abortion advocates, it is my experience with the four women that I know who had an abortion, that each respected life and motherhood more than almost anyone else I ever met. Each of them had their own terrifying and gut wrenching tale. Each made a choice they wrestle with even as they discuss it with me, but by the end of the tale, they always admit, it was the best of awful choices. All four of these women went on to be great moms. Not one of their kids ever was neglected, unplanned or unloved. Once these women said yes to parenthood, they jumped in with both feet and the children that resulted were happy, healthy and loved by two parents. Once those women made the commitment to having children, they built damn fine nests. To me, that's true motherhood and it has been a beautiful thing to watch.
I have seen motherly love come in many forms. One woman is raising her sick sister's daughter. She is a single mom with a child of her own, and raises this little girl all by herself. Why? Because she decided to. She said, "I choose to love this child no matter what," and so she does, everyday. That's motherhood.
Another woman, loved her child so much that she chose another family to raise him. She knows this boy only through pictures, yet, having been the one who watched her belly swell with him, and her water break with him, and a piece of her soul disappear with him: I must admit that she loves that little boy as much as I love mine. Having seen the gracious and loving arms of the woman who accepted that little boy, I also think that she loves him that much too. How lucky is he, to have twice the motherly love? Two women made the choice to give their heart to that child and he is going to be better for it. That is motherhood.
Yesterday I heard of a high school friend with a complex medical issue that she was just diagnosed with weeks before he impending birth of her child. She found out that she cannot deliver naturally, and that she cannot have any anesthesia or they will die. This means that she is facing a very painful c-section to deliver her son. I don't know how much of this is final, or fact, or what the logistics are, I only know the upset words of an honest friend. Even if the specialist finds a solution and this never happens, what she said about it did happen. She said, "It'll be ok. It's just one day in our fabulous lives." That's motherhood.
Or what about my new friend, also due in a few weeks, who has been on bed-rest since before Easter with painful contractions, suffering extreme symptoms of MS that hurt badly. She can't take her MS medicine because it will hurt her baby. So she waits, hoping for a full term and healthy child, in misery. Even though I know the enormity of this burden must at some times seem flat out unbearable, she smiles, she laughs, she jokes, she spends her time and energy worrying about how to relieve the stress of her illness on her four year old daughter. She spends not a moment worrying for herself. That is motherhood.
Let us talk about the struggle not with spectacular things, but with grocery lists and dental appointments and paying the rent on time. There are the moms with episiotomy scars, hietal hernia's, broken pelvic bones, multiple miscarriages, failed adoptions,and other physical and emotional scars gained in the pursuit of motherhood that few will ever understand. Let's pause for a moment for the moms who skip their own haircuts to buy soccer uniforms, who give up their Thursday book clubs to join the PTA, who pump breast-milk in awkward places at work on their "breaks" and miss first steps so that their children have safe and warm homes or college funds. That, my friends, is motherhood.
The truth is that all moms are like Robin, above, they spend their whole lives, every single day, shoving nesting material where it will not fit, till it does. They spend restless days shoving fat worms in hungry mouths, dreaming of the nostalgic day that they will fly away and the nest is empty, and then those silly moms ache at an empty nest.
The fact is, that motherhood is the single most beautiful struggle on the face of the earth. When you give a women the choice in where, when, and with whom she becomes a mother, well, that doubles it's power. That makes the most beautiful thing that ever was- somehow even more impressive - don't you think?