Kristen shared this link about loving the “bad mother” in you on Facebook today, and these lines struck the writer in me:
“You no doubt have an image of ‘the perfect mother’ in your mind. Describe her in as much detail as possible.”
A great prompt, right? What does your perfect mother like?
Mine looks and talks and walks a lot like my own mother. She is always there and always interested in what I have to say. As a child, I knew her body to be an extension of mine, always warm and soft and welcoming to my own. To think about what a perfect mother is to you means examining how you feel about your own mother and wondering about how you measure up to, or fail to meet, or exceed the standards that she set.
It’s worth exploring…
My perfect mother is patient above all things; she never explodes or yells or snaps or cracks or slaps or whacks. Neither does she hold things in, expanding internally with pressure that makes her cheeks red or her veins pulse or her hands hold you a little too tightly. Instead, she breathes things in and then out, noticing them but then letting them go, airing them like pillowcases on a clothesline or bubbles billowing from a machine, watching as they move and float and sometimes change depending on the light. She accepts things, sometimes bearing witness to them and somethings just bearing them. She acknowledges without fawning or apologizing. Grace is her shadow.
She smiles at her children. She feels settled when they are near and likes their chatter, their jittery expressions and subtle vulnerabilities. She sees the edges of their childhood pains and losses rub up against each other; she watches as they move in and out of spaces both familiar and fascinating. Her job is to love them, she knows, to read and sing to them, to feed and bathe them, to know and hold them. Her job is to be there when others are not, when the world’s bright colors fade, when father or friends fail, and when the sun sets in a gravy-colored sky.
She holds them, and they hold her without meaning to or knowing what that even means. She gives herself to them and in return, she finds herself full and heavy in their presence, happy with their hands on her face–pushing their own faces and eyes in front of hers, demanding contact, demanding her skin and soul and song. It is theirs to claim, they feel, and she lets them, but somehow doesn’t lose herself along the way. Somehow she still remains elusive, like the white polished gloves handed down from her stepmother, sturdy and delicate at once–formal and distant yet functional and worn in the way of vintage wares–their elegance always on display but their beauty only fully realized when touched, handled, used to cover and protect and emphasize the beauty of another.
Somehow she contains and sustains all that is in the home–the heart-full home that travels with her and nestles in the angles of her hugs. Somehow she is always what you need her to be, which is to exist for you, to hold and hone you, to help and home you.