Last summer I noticed the hollow tree trunk on the tall, leaning tree near the fire circle and thought, “I should really call someone to take that tree down.” And then I got busy and forgot about it.
Every time we had strong winds, I’d hear the tree groan. The trunk had been struck by lightning at some point, and it had split the trunk, but somehow, through the years, the tree stood. From my kitchen window, I watched squirrels go in and out of the hollow spot about five feet from the ground, wondering if maybe a mama squirrel had found the perfect nook for her babies.
When Autumn came, and my own two Squirrels left for different colleges and the house was clean and quiet and I found myself with something I hadn’t had in 18 years….time…I thought about the tree again. It had started to lean even more. “I should really call someone to take care of that tree before it falls down” I’d say to myself as I walked to the garage. It was groaning more loudly, complaining when the wind blew. But then, our dog tried to die of old age and a broken heart, so I was consumed with trying to cheer HER up and keep HER alive and forgot about the tree’s problems. There was just too much “hollow” to go around.
In early April, after a nearly snow-less winter, we were hit one night with the heaviest, wettest, snowstorm of the season. When we woke up, the power was out and trees were down everywhere. The first thing I thought of (after wondering how I was going to make coffee) was the tree. Looking out, I expected to see it down in the yard. To my surprise, the tree was still standing though it appeared to be listing a little to the left of where it had been before.
This morning, on Mother’s Day, we woke up to a nearly perfect morning here in the woods. The birds were singing and the sun was shining brightly. I went to make coffee and you guessed it, the tree was down. In the night, it had broken in half about twenty feet up and the top had hung up in another, younger tree in front of it. Then, about an hour later, we heard a loud Crash! and it was finally down on the ground. It had waited long enough, I suppose, for me to have time for it. Hollow trees don’t last. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, old dogs find a reason to wake up in the mornings even after their kids are gone. And no matter how empty we are feeling, Moms do, too.
I’m working myself out of a job, which I suppose is the goal. We raise them so they’ll leave us…move out….jump into the world with confidence and skill. And if we are really lucky, they come home for visits, and breaks, and summer jobs. Mine did yesterday, and I couldn’t be happier on this Mother’s Day.
If you’re a mom with little ones this Mother’s Day, take time to hug them extra hard today because, trust me on this, they will grow up too soon. And if you are a mom of teens, stop and hug yours extra hard, too, because you know as well as I do how fleeting this period of time really is in life.
Being a mother changes everything. It’s the best thing I’ve done.
The monumentally difficult decisions of two mothers half a world away allowed me to become a Mother after nature, and all the best medicine had failed.
My kids think I’m nuts most of the time. That’s because they don’t know, can’t know, how much I love them, or how singular this love is. It’s a scary kind of love. A fierce, irrational, all-consuming love. It’s a love that breaks my heart, then fills it, then breaks it again. Over and over and over. I’m a maternal roller coaster. Older mothers, mine included, tell me that this never, ever ends. I fear that this is true.
Fierce Moms ask a lot of questions….of their kids, of their kids’ teachers, of society. And they don’t take “I don’t know” for an answer. This does not always make them popular. They check up, check in, and refuse to let themselves check out because they know that the job they are doing is essential. That they are essential.
Fierce Moms do not try to be perfect Moms. But they spend their lives trying to be better Moms. And they don’t mother all of their kids exactly the same because they know that there isn’t a “one size fits all” method to mothering. They tell their kids when they’ve screwed up. They own up to the fact that they are not perfect, and don’t require perfection from their kids, either.
Fierce Moms often find themselves mothering a lot of other kids besides their own. They welcome their kids’ friends into their homes and into their lives. There is always room for one more kid at the dinner table. Their minivans are full of the soccer bags and dance bags and musical instruments of other kids.
Fierce Moms don’t tolerate having their kids hurt. When I was a child, I once witnessed a fed-up mom pull the neighborhood bully, a fifth grader off the bus and beat the living daylights out of him. On the sidewalk in front of the school. With the bus driver and the kids all watching in disbelief. She didn’t hurt anything but his pride and his desire to pick on the rest of us.
It was impressive (and a little scary) to witness such fierce love. I never really understood why she’d done it until I had children myself.
To the young moms and the old moms and all the moms in between….Happy Mother’s Day.
To the poor moms, and the privileged moms, and
the moms who work both at home and in the workplace…Happy Mother’s Day.
To the women who choose not to become Mothers and then spend their lives teaching and mentoring children…Happy Mother’s Day.
To the moms who do it alone, either by choice, or by chance, and
the moms who raise the grandchildren who call them “mom”…Happy Mother’s Day.
To the moms who grieve the loss of a child taken from them too soon…Happy Mother’s Day.
To the moms who are in the military themselves, and the moms praying for sons and daughters who serve…Happy Mother’s Day.
To the moms who go hungry so their children can eat and who sleep on cots in shelters with their children next to them and the
moms who send their children to America while they stay behind in refugee camps…Happy Mother’s Day.
To the moms who spank when they’d rather hug, and the moms who hug when they’d rather spank…
To the goofy moms and the dorky moms and the serious moms…
To the musical moms who make their children practice piano and the soccer moms who stand in the rain….
To the moms who lovingly welcome their child’s same-sex partner and the moms who plan weddings for their children that they’d prefer not to attend at all….
To the moms who spend the bulk of their lives doing laundry and grocery shopping and cooking and cleaning….
To the moms who make their kids go to church, and the moms who don’t…
To the moms who do their best to protect my own when I’m not there to do it and who take care of the bullies among us…
Happy Mother’s Day.
To my own mom, my husband’s mom and the moms of my friends…
To the foster moms, the birth moms, and the adoptive moms….
and finally, most of all, the two young women in South Korea who trusted that the universe would take care of the two sweet babies they’d labored to bring into the world who have grown into fine, strong, smart young adults…the two who call me Mom…
Happy Mother’s Day!