I keep seeing ads for Mother’s Day with petal pink letters in frilly font and slight women wearing flowing flowering frocks. It’s like advertisers think mothers dress in doilies, cover their heads in bonnets with perfectly tied grosgrain ribbon, and smile demurely all day wearing pink champagne tinted lip gloss.
I guess I should be glad they think that. Maybe they don’t notice that my flowing hair is tied back in a rubber band because I haven’t washed it, the dew on my skin isn’t from sprinkles of rose water but the sheen of oil on my face that I didn’t have time to powder, and my tinted lips are from biting them in an effort to avoid saying something regrettable.
Mothers are the toughest people I know.
I know mothers who have battled depression and still manage to smile for their children.
I know mothers who have endured infidelity and had the strength to forgive.
I know mothers who can stretch a meal so there’s enough for all the hungry tummies at the table, who make shopping at a thrift store an adventure, and who don’t dwell on what they don’t have but teach gratitude for what little they do.
I know mothers who battle cancer and other health crisis who put the comfort and care of their children first.
I know mothers whose worst fears of sexual abuse became reality and they became conduits of healing for their children despite their own rage.
I know mothers whose husbands have left them without reason or regret. Yet show their children that while marriages sometimes fail, a mother’s love never will.
I know mother’s who have been in the emergency room too many times, with too many close calls, hear frightening prognoses and stoically, heroically, get busy with the logistics of caring for their young.
I know mothers who tirelessly advocate, care for, and celebrate the lives of their special needs children in spite of the significant challenges it entails.
I know mothers who have suffered miscarriages and mothers who have buried their children. There isn’t a word tough enough to describe the strength it took to endure those losses.
Every mother I know sacrifices, struggles, feels alone, unsure, and terrified of screwing up this sacred gift of raising children. Yet they have the strength to press on, to rise to the challenge, to love through every hardship, and feel immense gratitude for the life they’ve been entrusted.
Motherhood is a job worthy of a hard hat and a coat of armor. That’s the kind of strength I’ve witnessed in the mothers I know and the mothers I have. Their strength is in their softness, in their capacity to love unconditionally, whole-heartedly, and with abandon. And if there’s a justification for the frilly font and the fragrant flowers it is this: often mothers don’t want their children to know that loving them has been anything but a joyful blessing. Because as hard as it is, as strong as mothers have to be, as much as is sacrificed, there isn’t one among us that would consider it anything but the greatest gift of our lives.
So go ahead, paint me in pastels, perfume me in floral scents, and depict me as a damsel in daisies. So long as you know, underneath it all is a warrior strong enough to be called mother.
I know I wouldn’t be the mother I am if it wasn’t for the strong women who surround, inspire, and encourage me. Share this with a mother you know whose strength you admire.
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