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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Motherhood...Messy Miracles.

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!


Jayne said...

Oh Leah- and who among us hasn't fumbled?! I remember, almost to the day, when I realized my parents didn't have all the answers. That I in fact, might have some answers they didn't.
I also remember being angry for a very long time. And then my parents proved the old adage (one they used frequently), "You'll understand someday, when you have your own children" when I did finally have two of my own children to raise.
This post reminds me of how important it is to be not only forgiving of others, but of ourselves, as well. No one does it perfectly. But we do our best.
Happy, Happy Mother's Day. :)

Leah Griffith said...

I know Jayne. Before I had kids it was easy to criticize… But it did take years for me to sort things out. Today I can look back and see all those messy miracles and smile with gratitude.
Now that I’m a grandmother I can enjoy my granddaughter without worrying about screwing her up. This is the maternal equivalent of a touchdown!! LOL!!
I hope your Mother's Day was magical. ;)

Chris said...

You're a grandmother, too? Wow!

With my mom, I am currently in the phase of walking in on God in his underpants. I am realizing how some of her best intentions have unwittingly hurt me or created unhealthy patterns of behavior. I am trying to find a new way of communicating with her which would allow me to follow my own path but without hurting her. At the same time, I have noticed that she is starting to come to me for advice more and more, and I think I like this new phase, because it allows me to be there for her as she has done for me for the past 31 years :)

Happy (belated) Mothers' Day!

Leah Griffith said...

Hi Chris, It sounds as though you are working things out with your mom. It's so strange how roles can change and now you're the one leading... I like that. It's not easy dumping some of the unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors that we inherit but awareness is the key to liberation. ¡Viva liberación! ;)

Dangerous Linda said...

Dear Leah,

This post packed an even bigger whollop than I expected -- I'm having trouble writing my response, something in my eye...

I hope my kids think/feel something like this about me today. Such a lovely tribute!

Happy Mother's Day, Dear! XOXOX

PS I would like to share this at

The Loerzels said...

So eloquently said Leah. And I love the line "I cringed with embarrassment at her humanity as though I had walked in on God in his underwear." And you're right motherhood is damn messy!

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