Hands that hold me up.
I have this friend named Dori who’s the kind of person I feel like I’ve known forever. I’ve only known her a couple of years but it’s hard to picture my day to day life without her. She’s smart and beautiful and funny and compassionate. She’s pretty much perfect, aside from her one flaw which is that she’s younger than me and way more together than I ever was at her age – or am now for that matter. Anyway, one of the things Dori’s fond of saying to me is “I don’t know how you do it!” She says it in terms of me being a Mom, specifically a single Mom. Which got me to thinking about how I do do it? And led me to a few conclusions.
Dori is actually how I do it. Or one of the reasons I’m able to do it. Because she hugs me at work and sends me texts to tell me good luck, or that she’s thinking of me, or that my kid is awesome. Because she reminds me that what truly matters can’t be taken away by not being perfect.
My sister Christina is how I do it. She’s been my best friend since the day she was born and is my closest confidante. I love her completely and I just get her. We have different personalities but the exact same sense of faith, set of values and sense of humor. Growing up together was one of my greatest joys. Being Moms now together and raising our kids to be as close as the two of us are, has been awesome and beyond rewarding. She honestly blows me away with the way that she loves and parents – even though she’s younger she’s always been an inspiration to me and still is now, as a Mom.
My best friend Amie in Virginia is how I do it. Amie and I are completely in sync and have been best friends for half our lives, even though we’ve been separated by distance over the last few years. She and I are so alike in terms of personality, belief and experiences. She’s really my other sister. Amie’s one of the kindest, truest, strongest and bravest girls I know. She’s raised one of the most incredible young men I’ve ever met and has now added a sweet and beautiful baby girl to the mix. She’s capable of anything – most definitely far more than she ever gives herself credit for.
My friend Rebecca in NY is how I do it. Rebecca was my first friend in kindergarten and although our lives have had very different paths, she’s always remained courageously true to herself and to me and the people she loves. I have so much respect for her and get so much joy from knowing that wherever our lives take us, we will always appreciate each other and remain closely connected.
My cousin Patty is how I do it. Patty and I are the same age and grew up practically as siblings. I’ve seen her take on some pretty incredible challenges and stake her claim on the life she wants. She’s true to her family and carries on meaningful traditions of our culture and her girls are richer for it. Patty’s also had the courage to hold boundaries and be different from some around her, and still be strong enough to love them anyway.
My friend Erin is how I do it. Erin and I were hippies in high school and college together. Erin is one of the most sincere, genuine and fun people I know. I can totally be myself with Erin and am so grateful for our friendship. We want the same things for our kids and I love seeing the next generation of friendship develop. Erin reminds me to laugh at myself. And she happens to be one of the best Mom’s I know.
My friend Julie in Texas is how I do it. Julie is so strong and confidently vulnerable at the same time. She taught me way back when what it means to be an incredible Mama. And she literally gives the very best hugs I’ve ever gotten (except maybe from my own kid). I miss her so much and love her more.
My friend Alison in Virginia is how I do it. I know it sounds trite, but Alison sings like an angel – my mouth hung open and I cried the first time I heard her. And she just radiates beauty in every other way. Alison takes full advantage of life. She inspired me when she received life-changing news and decided to use the information to empower herself. The girl literally climbs mountains and jumps through fire and parents hundreds of kids a year as her own. She boggles my mind and has my heart.
And there are so many others who everyday help me do it. Like my old days crew – Chris who’s all heart and Sheila who’s all soul, both of whom showed me what it takes to be a Warrior Mom and reminded me that “this too shall pass” so soak it up while you have it. Alaina who started a journey even before I had my own son and ended my own marriage and who probably never knew I was along for the ride or what a different she made. Ashley who’s never been afraid to yell at me or tell me she loves me (or both at the same time) and who reminds me we are still young! Connie who loved me even when I was a kid and made stupid choices. Sally who changed my life by giving me a chance when she didn’t have to and I probably didn’t deserve it. Kim, Cat, Tabatha, Liz and now Katie – girls who captured my heart as students and who have grown into the most amazing and powerful Mommies I could have ever imagined. Joy who rooted herself in southern Virginia and built a community and raised a whole clan of amazing little people and still had room to invite me in. Natasha who became a smart, powerful working professional before our eyes and then discovered motherhood which is her truest calling. And my own Mom who gave me memories of happy, carefree days when I felt loved and safe. And so many others who aren’t sisters or daughters but who help me be a better mother – like my own Dad who loves my kid with as much fierceness as he loves me, but with even more tenderness. And the guy-who-shall-remain-nameless who rides a motorcycle instead of a white horse and brings me presents like pepper spray and stuffed animal elephants because he just gets me. These are the people who help me do it. They are the hands that hold me up – no matter where they are or what I’m up against. They are the reasons why I do what I do and why, when I feel like pulling my hair out, I still feel lucky. They are the reason why, even when I’m at my wits end, I don’t feel like I’m doing it alone.
So happy Mothers Day to all you old and new mamas, future mamas and stand-in mamas. Share your stories and tell those whose stories you know how much they mean to you. And always know how much you mean to me!