Tag Archives: Mom

Tattoo

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20170613_192600I have a confession to make. I just got my second tattoo. It’s the symbol of a  lotus flower with it’s roots deep in the mud. I chose that symbol based on the Buddhist belief that without mud you will not get a lotus flower. In other words, the beauty of our life is grown out of the proverbial mud we must slog through to find what is truly important in our lives.

As a younger person I never thought I would be one to get a tattoo. Tattoo’s have certain stigmas attached to them. The person who decides to get one must be wild and even a little dangerous. There are actually some tattoos that scare the heck out of me and I would never want to meet that person in a dark alley. For some reason the tattoo says more about the person then any other attribute. But mostly it is the fact that those with tattoos agree to have a small needle jab ink into our skin to create some amazing works of art that seems to set those without tattoos apart.

Tattoos have been around since the beginning of the human existence or at least for several millennia and possibly longer. Mummified skin has been found in countries spanning the globe and in almost all societies. Tattoos could be status symbols, amulets against evil or for safe childbirth, the product of religious ceremony and culture or the result of the drunken longing of a homesick sailor for his mom. They can also be a symbol of personal rebellion against the status quo or maybe a badge of honor after a life changing experience. If life’s battle scars make one a warrior then maybe getting a tattoo to mark that battle is like a signpost on the road of that person’s life. I have seen tattoos that illustrate the struggles and triumphs that person must have experienced. Of course I have seen just as many butterflies, flowers, skull heads and hearts, random symbols that can only have personal meaning to the one wearing them.

Our family faced a crisis when my son was in high school and it was news that devastated us and thrust us into an alternate reality where the norm was long hospital stays, endless drug therapies and days on end when family members resided in different cities as we fought off that specter. We had just begun to recover from that year long event when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. We faced another year similar to the one before but this time I was angry and determined to avoid the disruption we had previously experienced. That was easier said than done. Halfway through the 8 month treatment, I was not so defiant as I fought just to stay above water day to day. My son had moved on to college by that time and carpe diem was the philosophy I watched him follow. So I was not surprised when he called to tell us he was getting a tattoo. Nor was I concerned. In my mind, we had just had the very hard lesson for the past

IMG_1491 (1) two years not to sweat the small stuff and getting a tattoo was definitely in that category. My daughter started her tattoo journey by celebrating her high school graduation and then again for her college graduation.

I got my first tattoo the year after I finished breast cancer treatment. It is the Celtic symbol for healing and that’s just what I wanted for myself and my family. I often forget that I have it because it is located in a place I only see in a mirror. But I recall the prayer I offered up when that ink was being needled into my skin. And I think of the prayer I offered up when the lotus was being tattooed on me as well. Now that is in a place I can see daily so that I can remind myself on those tough days that at the end of it I am likely to find a lotus blooming. Or at least have the faith that there will be one.

Everyone has scars, the worst of which are often hidden. Perhaps tattoos are a way for some to reflect the focus, the work, the energy it takes to move beyond those scars to continue on that long and winding road of life. Tattoos are not for everyone, no doubt. There are many other ways to mark the signposts of our lives or symbolize the fights we have survived. Or to celebrate life’s beauty or the birth of a child or yes, to honor your mom. My family has chosen to wear tattoos and we all have at least one. Maybe that does make us rebellious or wild. I am okay with that if some get that impression. I see it more as my children marking the signposts of the life they have lived and are living, including that time we all traveled together to the edge of the abyss. Thankfully, there was a gloriously blooming lotus flower waiting for us there.

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Photo by vibrantskys via Pixabay

 

Mother’s Day

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photo by Adrian, Canada

Mother’s Day is the day when people celebrate the woman who has given them birth, the one who has loved and nurtured them, the one who caused them to feel angst and guilt and often it is the same woman. It’s also a day when children of all ages and husbands or significant others feel they must buy that woman flowers or jewelry or take her out for a meal. I have heard cynical rumblings that Mother’s Day was created by the card and flower conglomerates to offset what would normally be a slow business month. Yet even mothers have misgivings about Mother’s Day. What if your children forget or there is no expected phone call or card? What about the extra stress on her loved ones to recognize the day? Hasn’t anyone thought of mothers feeling sad or bad on Mother’s Day?

It seems a time honored tradition to have a day when children can celebrate not only their mother but their father, their grandparent and even their pet. Mother’s Day takes its tradition from ancient Rome and Greece. Indeed the term for “mother” then referred more to the spiritual goddesses who could impact fertility of humans, animals and crops and be a benevolent spirit one could offer tribute to. The modern day celebration in this country grew from the efforts of several prominent women of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to recognize the amazing mothers in their lives. This convinced President Woodrow Wilson in 1914 to proclaim Mother’s Day to be the second Sunday in May. Bring on the flowers!

20170514_201723I confess I have mixed feelings about Mother’s Day although I really felt the love this year. Not because I don’t crave the attention from my children. When they were young, I would get homemade necklaces, paintings of the family cat and small hand prints in clay, gifts cherished even to this day. As adults the only thing I truly relish is their connection. A phone call or a visit. Flowers and brunch are icing on the cake. But what about those who do not have children? Those whose fervent wishes and hopes were not realized? What about those who have suffered the ultimate loss? What is this day to them?

Last Mother’s Day I was gifted with the news of my son’s engagement to his long time sweetheart. This Mother’s Day we are mere weeks out from a beautiful and magical wedding that brought all of our families together. My daughter who lives nearby, spends lots of time with me and, yes, gives me beautiful gifts and flowers. I cherish this attention and her presence because who knows in a year, a month or even a day where we will all be? I don’t want my children to feel a special obligation to me just because it’s the second Sunday in May. I selfishly want it everyday. This past year I lost my own mother. In many ways she had left some time ago as Alzheimer’s slowly stole her memories and pulled her away from us and into her own world where we could not follow. Even so, the touch of her hand or her sweet hug was enough for my own memories to stay intact. I want to maintain the same connection to my own children no matter what happens.

I think what keeps mothers up at night, or at least this mother, is have I done well by my children? Have I been able to give them what they needed? I confess there have been times I have not. I have fallen short. I have allowed my own misgivings to surface so that my children have felt the need to care and protect me. And many times when I knew I needed to be the adult, I know that I was not. I was the angry, sad petulant child and I waited for them to comfort me. Sad mommy. Mad mommy. It’s okay Mommy. Yet the guilt at showing such vulnerability to my little children would stay with me for days.

There were many times when I wished I were that goddess who could seemingly live on little but praise and adoration. Yet I realize that adoration usually came out of fear. Will we have crops? Will the cow give a safe birth? If I were that benevolent goddess mother, couldn’t I guarantee the perfect life for my children? I believe when mothers first hold that tiny frail little body in their arms after hours of the intensity and violence that is giving birth, there is that fervent prayer to protect and be the perfect advocate for that child. I know I made such promises to them and to myself even as my body tried to reconcile itself with what had just happened. But mixed in the good days are the hard ones, lack of sleep, a sick child, worry and fear that translates as anger, hoping a hug will make the world tilt back again. No we are not perfect. Yes we are human. Some mothers make it look easy but all mothers know it is not.

I am so grateful for the Mother’s Day I had this year. I got exactly what I wanted which was connection to my children even though one was far away on his honeymoon. One I could hold and kiss and one I could send my love to. Time and attention. The most precious gifts of all. How very perfect is that?

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Transitions

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Tree of Change by Kimberly Vohnsen

It is said that the only constant in life is change. The world turns and us with it. We all change roles and jobs and sometimes partners. I never realized my life would spin so fast when often it felt as though time moved so slow. But these days there are moments when the world swerves so rapidly I feel I must grab onto the nearest proverbial light pole even as I wonder who that older woman is reflected in that storefront window. It doesn’t seem fair that the moment I begin to truly appreciate something in life, time snatches it away to make it suddenly a thing of the past.

Transitions are never clearer than in the faces of our loved ones. My children’s baby faces have morphed into the faces of young adults that sometimes cause me to double take. I can still see them in there, those beloved cherub cheeks and laughing eyes. But their expressions are those of older, wiser beings. On the other end, our elders are slowly leaving us and I realize I am becoming one of the next generation of elders. How can I still feel so young when all of the signs tell me otherwise? I color the white from my hair every eight weeks because I don’t recognize that emerging face under the fading hairline. I am certain that vanity is only a small part of that but perhaps I am just denying that face in the mirror. It’s not right to try to stop time but then I do not always see it that way. I see it as me aging on my terms. Other times I feel as old as the hills, dragged down by my own worry or guilt or just plain fatigue.

Still as I glance over my shoulder I sometimes wonder who that tall handsome young man is about to marry his long time sweetheart or that beautiful young woman navigating love and life in this brave and scary new world. They can’t be mine. I am far too young. They are far too old. I have not fully accepted that this transition and the hundreds of other transitions before this have occurred but there is no disputing the evidence.

Yet transitions are good too, they can be very good. They can spin one from a scary, stressful life situation to a calmer one and thank goodness for that. Like changing horses on a Ferris wheel, the ride can be bumpy or smooth. And here is the beauty of life’s transitions. For better or worse and despite of or in spite of all of my life’s transitions, I am still alive. I have been gifted with two children, a boy and a girl, a man and a woman. Two I can teach and two I can learn from. Two I can love and two I can fear for. But I am not ready. I’m not ready for this life transition. They cannot be gone from my cozy, safe nest so soon. But that is how change happens. Constantly. Dispassionately. Relentlessly. Sometimes I struggle to keep up.

In what felt like a blink of an eye, I was pregnant, I gave birth, I was a young mother, I was an older mother, sometimes a good mother and sometimes a not so good one. Then it was time to send them out into the world. Now I need to look to myself as they look forward into their own lives. That’s a transition too. When I was a childless young woman I only thought about myself and my needs and then for the past three decades I thought about my children’s needs. The world turns again. The human experience is a thorny and wondrous thing. How did I get to this place? That journey is a reflection for another day.

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Passage Through Time by Gerd Paulsen

For now I gaze at the Pacific sky, at the fast moving clouds that blink with brilliant moments of sun illuminating the spring awakening. Another transition. I wash my glass until the red wine stain is gone but like all residue, it leaves a shadow.  Our past leaves the residue of all of our experiences as well, our thoughts and deeds, our actions. Our sins.

I can mourn these transitions or I can celebrate them. I can dance to the music of transitions; David Bowie’s “Changes”, Al Stewart’s “Time Passages” and I can toast them with my residue stained red wine glass. But secretly I am still coming to terms with all of them. I am grateful for all the moments with my children I have been gifted with and I will try to let go of that little kernel of sadness and loss lodged next to my heart as I move forward. Perhaps the next transition will take care of that.