Last mothers day was all about Mama Rawson. We were still living with my parents, and Bronwyn was about 6 weeks old. If I remember correctly, I still hurt. None of my bodily functions had normalized and so when I looked into the face of the child who had broken me, I didn’t expect a big mothers day hoo-pla-pla out of her. And at the same time, the more I considered my own state of physical distress, the more I felt awe and gratitude for the woman who had done all of this for me too. I think I told her half a dozen times that day, “I’m sorry I pret’ near killed you. Thank you for loving me anyway.” She always laughed. Clearly her pregnancy amnesia set in after 30 years, though I was sure mine never would.
Since last mothers day I have been telling Bronwyn fairly consistently that for Mother’s day 2013 I expected flowers and mylar balloons and pony rides. She also just laughed at me (why does no one take me seriously?). When I started spouting this line 11 months or so ago, I think there was a slightly serious undertone to my ravings. “Cuz ya know what? I DESERVE IT!” were the words behind the words. If I am really honest, the truth is that for a very long time, I felt like my role as a mother was to give and give and give without receiving and I kind of begrudged it all. I’m ashamed to say it, but it took me time to realize what the true gifts of motherhood are. I felt like flowers and balloons and ponies were the only things that would make up for the hurts in my body and the hurt in my heart as I embarked on a (somewhat) thankless journey, struggling to remember why we thought this “make a baby” thing was a good idea anyway.
When Bronwyn started smiling back at me and making faces and reaching her arms out and calling for “mom,” I started to get it. She may never thank me in the way that she should until she births a child of her own, but she says thank you to me every day in her own small way. But that’s not all. As even more time has passed, I’ve come to appreciate the truer gifts. Her smiles and expressions are adorable to say the least, but they are also temporary, fleeting, momentary. Instead, this child of mine gives me the best mothers day gifts every single day. Every time I fight the temptation to worry about her, or deny my own comfort to put her back to sleep at the breast for the gazillionth time that day, or humble myself as a glorified tush wiper or take pride in her character formation… I know that Christ is at work in me. I have never cried so much as I have this past year, though I know that these are the tears of breaking for the purpose of rebuilding. I see a strength of heart, conviction of faith and dedication to step in ways never would have been possible had I not been given the gift of motherhood.
And so when I ask Bronwyn if she has prepared that pony ride for me and she laughs back, I laugh too and without a hint of pretense or cynicism; for what her laugh really means is “oh silly mom, who needs ponies when I’ve given you humility and endurance and a servants heart?” And she’s right.
THAT SAID… I still want to tell you about my mothers day.
I read in a book once that one way to honor your husband is to brag about him in public, so I’ll say out loud for the world to hear: JEREMY KICKED BUTT THIS MOTHER’S DAY!!!!!
Gift giving when you live in the bush is really, really hard. Possibilities are limited when there is no 1-800-flowers and Amazon does not deliver to Zambia. (I actually keep a running list of the things I want to buy Jeremy one day when we are in America but can’t right now.)
We’ve both learned to keep pretty low expectations in the gift giving department and be totally happy with home-made cards and really super enthusiastic wake up greetings. So it was absolutely wonderful to come out of the bedroom and find all this:
Hot chocolate made with warmed milk. (The effort that goes into this is more than you would think when there is no microwave. Therefore – very special.)
Card. A legit card. What!
And then the sweetest gift you ever did see. Would you just look at this shirt!
That white thing on the pocket, yeah that’s Bronwyn’s hand-print. Way to go little lady! I put it on and Bronwyn immediately got frustrated that she could access her nursing friends so I took it off. I told her she needs to wean tomorrow so I can start wearing that shirt all day every day. She laughed and then started clawing at me to get to her breakfast, reminding me again, of the gift that has been there all along. Thanks Jeremy for the kick butt hot choc, card and shirt, and thanks Bronwyn for the kick butt character development. I love you both. And thanks for making this mothers day ROCK.