The past 17 months of motherhood have tested everything I thought to be true about myself. They’ve broken down my defenses, exposed my ego, and begged me to question my purpose, my worth, my relationships to work, my reason for being.
I haven’t exactly been at my best through these important months of my children’s development—a crucial and defining moment in their development as people—which hasn’t helped quelch the ever-present pulsating guilt that shrouds my relationship with motherhood. I am always gone too long, too often, too frequently. While I am one to look for the silver lining in most situations (which is a nice way of describing my own naivety at times), I find the ugly truth to be much more freeing when faced straight on.
Which is why for Mother’s Day, I’m the one writing a thank you note to my children, because the lessons they gifted turned me into the most authentic version of myself. I don’t think I could have gotten here if I had been given a choice in the matter. Motherhood washed me out to sea and sent me back to shore a new person.
The kind of humility that brings clarity to what we take for granted each day. In each small gaze of love, in each belly laugh, in each defiant tantrum, I am confronted with the importance of my promise to you— to keep you safe, keep you strong, and give you what you need to live a peaceful life and make a positive impact in this world. I will fail time and time again to live up to these expectations, but will never stop trying to give you all that you need.
When I think I’ve gotten to the end of my rope, when I thought the lack of sleep would end me, or that everything would fall apart at the seams, you gave me the strength to dig deep and find the strength to put one foot in front of the other.
The sudden spiked fevers, the surprise projectile vomiting, the late night trips to the emergency room and heartbreaking questions around why I have to leave each day to go to work, you have taught me that while experts can help guide how to handle adversity and what society expects of me, the saying “mother knows best” has proven, in certain moments, to be worth its weight in gold. Thank you for helping me trust my inner voice, to be honest with my relationships with others, and to remember advice is always swayed by an individual’s experience.
You show me how fast things can change in a given day, moment, week, or year. You transform rapidly both physically and mentally and it has shed an unavoidable light on the fact that being in the present is such a precious gift we so often take for granted.
The moments where I have been overwhelmed by love and overwhelmed with responsibility brought me to my knees. It’s the kind of vulnerability that terrifies me, the kind I’ve avoided my entire life by keeping friends, family, lovers at arm’s length. Surrendering to a love like this has opened a chasm in my heart that will never close. You taught me to let vulnerability wash over me, to stop swimming against the tide, to approach life with an open heart with the people who mean the most to me.
Thank you, my sweet babies, for showing me that life is truly worth living, and for making me a mother.
BY Kate Arends - May 10, 2019
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.