Just when I thought I had been doing a pretty good job shedding my ego, another “growth opportunity ” tapped me on the shoulder this morning at 5:55.
Our beloved nine year old was chomping at the bit to make breakfast in bed for Mothers’ Day and she needed some help. Half asleep, I set up the Kitchen Aid that was mandatory for the most complicated waffle recipe known to humanity. “Would you mind starting the eggs?” She asked, as I was about to slink back into bed.
I didn’t have the heart to say “no” or remind her of my co-status as her mother alongside the woman still in bed.
She is just old enough to understand the significance of the day and just young enough to miss the nuance of Mothers’ Day with two moms.
I made enough eggs for both moms and grabbed a few waffles then plunked myself at the bottom of the bed where there was room.
I am not going to lie. There was a pity party in full swing happening in the space above my neck. But as the day progressed, one smile followed by a snuggle, then a hug reminded me that I did not become a mom to stand on a pedestal once a year. I signed up for this co-journey for the sheer privilege of witnessing the daily micro moments, both blissful and well intentioned.
When I was little I wanted little to do with my dad. He was wonderful and kind and knew just the way to do my hair for dance class, but I eagerly anticipated my mom’s return home. He loved me regardless. At the age of thirty, I finally figured out that I could love my dad through projects and road trips. It wasn’t the same kind of snuggly, chatty love I shared with my mom, but equally as profound.
My mind jumped to the thirty year wait ahead before Freya and I would have the relationship I longed for. I tried to model the same beautiful routines and relationship her birth mom Laura had developed, but I always felt as if I were falling short; time with me was the consolation prize.
There were no “how to books”. Tears dripped down my face as I prayed lonely prayers. My saving grace were the afternoons when I was the only parent home, slowly connecting, building trust, charting our own path.
Parenting is humbling, all of it. I set out with visions of idealic strolls through the park, sweet cuddles and cherub like grins. Then I was thrown into the role of non-bio Mom with an infant who only wanted my wife.
Contrary to my fears, Freya and I found our own kind of love while she was still small. It began as soon as I was able to let go of the image in my head of how our relationship “should be” by making huge baking messes in the kitchen and painting together in my studio. While her public admiration is usually reserved for my wife, our late night chats and back scratches are something that Freya and I share with a unique sweetness. Our love is different, but equally profound.
I have learned that sometimes love comes sweeping in, other times it builds to grand heights over time. Regardless of love’s pace, letting go of what a mother/child relationship “should be” in exchange for authentic connections will win every time. Sometimes, it will even result in a batch of cupcakes.