When I was a little girl, I would come home from church on Sunday after noon and after peeling off layer after layer of itchy scratchy dress and understuff, I would come down to my slip. My silky, soft white slip. Sometimes I would pull it all the way up under my skinny arms into my armpits and pretend that I was wearing a very glamorous strapless gown. I might even add a piece of jewelry, or stick a flower behind my ear, or grab a clipboard and pretend I was Julie McCoy.
More often that not, I pulled that long white slip up over my head to where the elastic just fit around my face at the hairline. And I pretended to be Mother Theresa.
That’s not even remotely true. But it sounds better than…I pretended to be a bride.
It’s true. I played bride more than anything else. I used to get my mom’s old frothy nighties and flounce around the house carrying some hard plastic bouquet of flowers that were crusted in dust and smelled like old people. I loved it.
I always thought it would be the easy path I would take. It seemed so natural then…it seemed so easy to believe that the girl with the freckles, and the big ears and the continuous string of unfortunate perms…would grow up and find love and become a momma.
The first man that proposed to me…well let’s just say the words weren’t even finished hanging in the air before we’d picked out the colors and settled on who would be in our wedding. Looking back, clearly this wasn’t a relationship based in any kind of reality or truth. I mean, he (my hand to God on this one) really at one time wanted to be Batman. I started listening to Morrissey to impress him. And while the Dark Knight always has been and always will be my favorite super dude to play dress up…there’s only so much of that music I could take before I started eating my own hair. I did love it though, and listen with fondness now.
The second man that proposed to me…I married.
He made me laugh. I followed him to college, and had what became one of the most defining times of my life. But we were young, and it’s been several lifetimes since I’ve been called Wife. We had started to seriously think about a baby. Thank God we didn’t follow through with that genius plan.
I used to yearn for a child. The want in my heart and in my body was so real, that I used to talk to it. It kept me company. It filled me with hope.
I used to pray that God would give me a child. But I wanted that child to come with a father. A father that wouldn’t leave. I didn’t want to do this alone. I’ve been a first hand witness to how difficult that was and never thought myself strong enough to handle the task alone.
I then began to pray that God would just give me peace. That He would replace that want with a purpose and the energy to forge ahead. Ride this trail that I never thought I’d be on. Seek new adventures and quit thinking about how I will never have anyone to pass down MeMe’s Desert Rose china to.
It was an amazing day when I realized that my prayers have been answered. Not in the removal of a want…but in the addition of sweet beautiful faces.
I’ve been given Hayden and Holden.
Jack Ryder and Huddy.
Ally and Asher and Baby Anniston.
Peyton Ruth and Jantzen.
Aubrey and Karlie.
Lily Kate and Nate.
Gabe and Riley and Tanner the Magnificent.
Kory and Alli
Jake and Jamie
My heart splits wide open each time I see their faces, or hear their laughter, or listen to a joke or watch a magic trick or pull a finger and make fake fart noises. I laugh till I cry at their serious dance moves and worry and fret at what will face them with each new day. I’ve bought my weight in cookie dough, been there for births, seen the prom pictures, sat through dance recitals, graduations and weddings as well as slept at the hospital, rejoiced at birthdays, and applauded at performances.
I realized that one doesn’t have to be RELATED to play an important role.
I think back to the women in my life, in addition to my mother, that helped to form and shape me into the woman I am today.
My mother taught me that I could be anything and do anything I wanted to.
MeMe taught me that strength need not always show up with fanfare, that the most courageous thing I could do was to try.
Mary has taught me so much about faith and what that means in this life and how it can sustain us.
Carla (Auntie) taught me about ABBA. Lacy J Dalton. blue cheese dressing and All My Children.
Carla (Nonna) taught me about Robert Redford in The Way We Were. She took me to see When Harry Met Sally. She taught me grace and dignity.
Ma taught me that opening my mind also meant opening my heart. That it wouldn’t always feel pleasant and nice, but in those moments we find something even better. She taught me not to just follow my bliss…to chase after it.
Those kids up there? I’m only related to two of them, but they all are part of my family. Part of my ever sustaining tribe. I am graced by their presence in my life and can only hope that I may someday be an important person in theirs. I don’t mourn the path not taken…very often. I’m happy with where I am and that I have the ability to love so many.
So on this Mother’s Day…I wish you well. I wish you love and light. Be you a parent, or be you someone like me.
I am not a mother.
But I do dress up like one on occasion.