Love Changes You and That's Okay
Happy Valentine’s Day, Mothers!
Valentine’s Day is all about showing each other love and appreciation. Couples have fancy, candlelit dinners. More heart shaped boxes of sampler chocolates are bought than any other time of the year. Tiny To/From character notes are passed between children. You know, it’s a day to celebrate love!
Have you thought about all that “other” love around you this past year? I’m talking about those mom friends! You know, the one who reached out to you when your child was in hyper mode at the kids gym, all the other kids lined up nice taking turns, and said quietly “I’ve got one of those at home. He’s a few years older now but this is SO normal.” What about your mom swaps for clothes and toys to save each other some dough and trips to the mass craziness in stores? Ooo! Ooo! And I can’t forget the ladies I laughed with, for what seemed like the first time in forever, over -yes, of course - wine (I’m not even really a drinker anymore). That playdate at the playground that saved my life the impending doom of a cooped up toddler (ok, I’m just exaggerating now. But, seriously.)
I even accidentally fell into opening a local branch of a national hiking group for families because one mom friend reached out to me and said, “Hey! This sounds like you, and you’re awesome, its awesome, are you interested?”
And what about me? What about this love for myself? I am a Mother. I had to force myself to practice a little self care. It’s hard when you look in the mirror and see dried spit up and bags under your eyes, but when your toddler snuggles nose to nose with you and says “I love you, Mommy.”, you know - I had to check to make sure I wasn’t literally beaming and lighting up the room.
Because those bags don’t matter. Something’s changed.
Don’t get me wrong - sleep is worth more than gold, and even I like to get cleaned up from time to time, but have you ever noticed, that you’re MORE now?
Sure, there’s more laundry, more dishes, probably even more tears, way more sleepless nights, maybe even a few more pounds…
But they matter so much less now.
Here’s a quote, from one of my most favorite movies of my teenage years, borrowed from a guy named William Makepeace Thackeray,
“Mother is the name for god in the lips and hearts of little children.”
You, Mama, are god-like in your child’s eyes. That kind of magic can change a person.
You have given so much of yourself. They all see it (ok, occasionally they don’t, but most of the time they do! I swear!). Your kids, your family, your mom friends, whatever ‘mom’-community you are a part of - be it an outdoors group like me, or a religious group, a book club, the fellow moms at the grocery store. We all see it.
Something happened when those gears changed from self-preservation and instant gratification, into putting everything you have towards a lifetime of hope for someone else.
We recognize that when we see it in each other.
(Where’s that hand signal from that Hunger Games girl?! Er, wait, was that the Girl Scout salute…)
I used to book bands at local bars. 176 bands on my roster, to be exact. Indie rock music, mostly. My hair always freshly dyed, my clothes always appropriately “cool” enough to look all right but not stand out too much. I was never a heels and mini skirt kind of girl, but we all have our vanity. I had fun, I did! I loved promoting music that I thought really had heart. I gave a lot of myself then too but for what? Nothing more than the love of it. I wasn’t getting rich doing it. I wasn’t getting any local bands a major record label. I WAS making friends with the bartenders, who, in genuine kindness and generosity, gave me stronger drinks for less cash.
I’m not suggesting you leave behind things that once made you happy the way I have, but I let all of that go when I had my son. No matter how much I loved anything before, I had never LOVED the way I do now. Love can make you do some crazy things. Take some risks. Donate yourself in ways you never even considered - and I’m not even talking about boobs and sleep!
You are a Mother. You belong to a circuit that embodies love, and laughter, and being a best friend or a reassuring stranger; and you are everything that matters to someone who means everything to you.
I had no idea this transition would be this humbling and beautiful.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Momma. We love you!