Sunday, May 8, 2011
When I was a very young child I remember following my mother around…clinging to her as though I were an appendage; a shoot from the same tree, happy to be growing up in the shadowy shelter of her nurturing presence. Her unbendable strength seemed iconic to me... a mix of God and Mary Poppins. She could straighten out any crisis life brought to my tiny door with a wave of her dishpan hands.
Ma was a creative cook, talented seamstress, and a persuasive orator. I repeated her home spun wisdom to the world like a self-righteous evangelist; pitying the kids who weren’t lucky enough to have her for a mom. Her words were like seeds quietly taking root in the fertile soil of my heart and bearing the eclectic fruit of my mother’s soul.
It seemed as I grew my mother shrank. I became more observant and self-assured, questioning everything, while she made mistake after mistake. I cringed with embarrassment at her humanity as though I had walked in on God in his underwear. It was at this point that I realized that my mother didn’t have all of the answers, and although she loved me, she wasn’t able to save me…or herself. This made me ferociously protective of her… and extremely frustrated and angry.
When I finally became a mother I realized that I was still just me…Leah. All of my hang-ups and fears where present, causing me to fumble with motherhood like a football player on a buttered field. This instantly disqualified me from ever being a perfect mother. Desperate for guidance, I found myself phoning my imperfect mother for help on a daily basis.
If Ma had done some things differently she could have saved her children a lot of pain. But her life was impossibly complicated which caused her to lose her way. And like unwitting accomplices to a crime her children bore the punishment for her mistakes even though she meant us no harm.
I understand this now, and although she failed as a perfect mother, she was magnificent as an imperfect mother. The love, kindness, and honesty, that she managed to instill in her children in the midst of life’s ravaging storms is her legacy. It’s an amazing legacy and one that is still bearing good fruit today. Thank you Ma.
So, this is to all of you imperfect mothers out there who struggle to raise happy children in the midst of your own unhappiness. I salute you! Motherhood definitely isn’t easy… or for cowards, and it ISN’T about perfection! It’s all about doing your best with what you have and loving yourself, so that in turn, you can love your children. And remember…we are a perfectly imperfect species.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Posted by Leah Griffith at 7:29 AM