“Mom, you are beautiful, but check out your stripes in this picture.” My daughter is on the verge of 8, and we are on a double decker bus in London heading somewhere; she is examining the morning’s photos she has taken with my phone.
Stripes? I’m confused until I glance down at the screen to see her zoomed in on my wrinkles. Hilarious, but yes they are indeed stripes. I smile at her, and she smiles back. “Well, you are smiling so it’s a good picture. Do you think I’ll need braces?”
“Yes, you will most likely require some dental work as you come from a long line of ladies with messed up front teeth especially, but you are beautiful no matter which direction your teeth are growing.” She giggles and returns to look at her photo talent; she has a tiny polaroid and wants to take wedding photos like Uncle Kenny. She should be available in 10-20 years if photography is her jam. What continues to amaze me about the perceptive abilities of my daughter is that she has also been able to capture the wiry more white than gray hairs on my forehead which tend to do their own thing despite the prowess of my fabulous hairdresser.
But she’s right, I am smiling and not crying or yelling or making dinner or folding laundry or putting someone somewhere to think it over or falling asleep on the couch or cleaning fish tanks or carrying skis or pumping up bike tires or lugging bins to or from storage. I am smiling and grateful for the life and time I get to have my kiddos and husband and parents, family, and friends. Life is hard, but daily it could be so, so much harder. This Mothers’ Day I’m thinking of a few specific wishes for my fellow moms out there in the world– and none of them have to do with erasing my stripes. Hell, I’ve earned these stripes, each and every one, and they have become part of who I am now at 44 years old. Chances are they are going to grow deeper and those freckles will most likely morph more closely to age spots given my years in the sun and time spent on sports fields and sandy beaches. All my sun block protection and daily (no judgement here) Oil of Olay has done little to turn back time as Cher would suggest I do. But that’s okay. I’m here still, very much alive, and my wrinkles, my stripes, are part of me, and, yes, I want my children to believe I’m accepting of my flaws because I am.
This Mothers’ Day, please join me in thinking extra hard about:
- those moms at any border, those trying to cross, those waiting to be reunited with their children, those wondering if the risk is worth the reward
- those moms wondering if their kid (no matter the age) is safe after learning a shooter entered their school, church, place of work, anywhere really
- those moms spending their first Mothers’ Day in heaven away from her child
- those moms spending their first Mothers’ Day without her partner because he died this week while going for a run
- those moms fighting to protect their kids during typhoons, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis, natural disasters of all kinds
- those moms of missing children or ones who have gone to heaven first
- those moms who parent on their own always
- those moms who feel like they will never be good enough
- those moms who weren’t even sure they wanted to moms in the first place
- those moms trying desperately to become moms
- those moms trying to help their daughters be strong moms too
- those moms of non-human babies who require care and nurturing too
I am especially lucky to have a mom and a mother in law who believe I’m exceptionally kick ass and support me unconditionally without criticism. Sadly, not every mom friend of mine can say the same.
Part of being an outdoor mom is that this time of year often brings ticks into our home. We check the children and the dog carefully each night and try to put their clothes immediately in the laundry. One got past us though and found his way to the inside of my shirt and then onto my belly. When I was telling the kids this morning about having to pull it off as it had already begun to burrow into my skin, Greta asked, “You said it was on your belly. Like in one of the smooth places or in a fat roll?” Detail oriented and not meaning to point out my fat rolls, she just very much wanted to understand the entire situation. “Just my belly,” I replied, “the smooth part, the fat rolls, all of it is mine.” She giggled and hugged me, and we rode our bikes to school. Happy Mothers’ Day to all the mothers out there– new ones, soon to be ones, old ones, borrowed ones, and ones in heaven. Here’s to your different strengths, stripes, spots, smooth parts, muscles and fat rolls– I am proud to be in your ranks, and damn lucky to be surrounded by all kinds of moms.