Mother’s Day Musings

There’s lots of trite ways to start a blog post about Mother’s Day, and I tried a number of them before starting fresh.

So, from the heart, here’s what I’ve got:

I always wanted to be a mom. Some girls just know.

So, after a unique journey, when my first munchkin showed up, one of the deepest wishes of my heart was fulfilled. A couple years later, another one entered my life a little more dramatically and promptly wrapped me around a very dear little finger.

Mother's Day Musings

And I know that I’m blessed. Some mothers don’t have the experience that I do. Some don’t look at Mother’s Day as a day to celebrate. My heart goes out to you as you’re inundated with pictures of smiling families at brunch with flowers.

While I’m still in the throes of tantrums, diapers, and sleeplessness, I parent but haven’t faced any of the big challenges of older children.

My older one has developed empathy, making her a lot more fun to be around, and wants to do stuff that I want to do, like bake stuff and draw pictures. The little one also likes to do one of my favorite things. Hint: it rhymes with “Need Hooks.” He’ll raid the shelves for several volumes that he’ll bring to me in the kitchen or whatever other place is wet or sticky and insist I drop what I’m doing and answer this human need to hear a story.

How has being a mother changed me? Well, there are some obvious things, like jiggly bits, including the bags under my eyes, but there are other, deeper changes too. And I’m not talking about the fundamental altering of my DNA (it’s a thing!) that now includes some of my children’s DNA mixed with mine.

You may have heard your parents say “you’ll understand when you’re a parent.” And I didn’t discount those words. But their reality is much greater.

I truly believe that the depth of emotion I experienced—and hopefully expressed—writing “Redeeming the Demon’s Daughter” (without spoilers I refer to the opening scene of Suvi with her son) would have been impossible for me prior to becoming a mother.

I have a vivid imagination, but, like any writer, I still have to draw from my experience and emotion to write a believable character. The love a parent has for a child is different than any other kind of love. It’s not the same love you have for a spouse or a parent. And I had to experience that love to be able to write about it.

So even though Suvi and I could scarcely be more different and she made choices and sacrifices I can’t even begin to imagine, her story called to me from the beginning because of our shared experience as mothers.

And so to all the mothers out there—past, present, and future—we share a bond that I acknowledge this Mother’s Day.

Previous Posts:

A Little Honesty for Mother’s Day

First Mother’s Day

Death, Euphemisms, and Bad Words

Today’s Word Wednesday is a departure from our regularly scheduled programming. I’ve been ruminating on what certain words mean to me, so we’ll have at it.

January took a sorrowful turn when my father lost his battle with cancer. I have not spoken of his health on the blog before, except in the loosest of references. Honestly, it has been too painful, knowing as we did that his diagnosis was terminal.

And in speaking of it now, it’s difficult to say–much less write–the words “my father died.” We have so many euphemisms for describing the end of life.

Words We Use to Describe Death

One friend recently called it “transitioning,” which was a new term for me, but which makes me think of a new job (or of Caitlyn Jenner).

An aunt has always referred to her deceased as “expired.” But when I think of expired milk, if it’s not gone a little sour, maybe I could still use it up. And my husband and I joke, as stinky people do, when our deodorant has quit for the day, that we’ve “expired” in the sense that we now smell a bit sour ourselves.

Technically, “expire” also refers to an exhalation from the lungs, so using expire to describe the exhalation of the spirit from the body and the fact that an inhalation is not sure to follow may be appropriate after all. It was, ultimately, respiratory failure for my father: an expiration his last mortal act.

Then there is “lost,” as in “I lost my father.”

I didn’t lose him in the sense that I don’t know where he is. I know exactly where he is, saw for myself the funeral home, the cremation oven, the ashes, and the flowing water where we poured them.

Because despite the many definitions of “lost,” the first one that registers for me is always being unable to find one’s way.

Sure, there are other definitions: something irrecoverable, as he is now, or in which a defeat has been sustained, as he did with cancer.

And now, more than usual, I find myself struggling to find my own way, not fully knowing where I am as tears threaten the surface at the slightest provocation and at the most inopportune and unexpected of moments.

So “lost” doesn’t seem appropriate to describe my father so much as it describes me.

The word “loss,” however, carries with it the sense of something now absent and greatly missed despite its rather redundant and unhelpful definition. Yet “I experienced the loss of my father” is rather a mouthful though it is quite accurate.

Moving Forward

And as for my resolutions for 2017, the verb for “resolution” is “resolve.” I resolved to do certain things in 2017. We make resolutions usually with an aim toward achievement or self-betterment. At this particular time, self-betterment dictates that I treat myself kindly. The time for aggressive writing achievement is not now.

Writing has always provided a solace for me, and making it a burdensome chore or stressor at a time when I need comfort more than ever will backfire. I do not ever want to publish a work that I’m not proud to sign my name to, so if that means my writing needs to take a backseat to my emotional health, so be it. I am still writing, and I am still going to meet my goals.

Final Thoughts

Many people think of four-letter words as the worst ones they know. Well, the vilest word I know is “cancer.” It’s an evil disease. I’ve watched it destroy a strong man and take a  terrible toll on his caregivers, primarily my mother.

Toward the end, certainly, and even before that, what cancer did to my father was no way for a person to live. It was no way for my mother to live either, constantly in fear and worry about what the next hour might bring. His suffering is at an end, but the rest of us still have to come to terms.

Please, please schedule your preventive care visits for 2017 now, when you have time for the things that get in the way, to reschedule them so that you fit them in this year. Prevention, especially with cancer, is so much more reliable than the cure.

Short but frequent doctor’s visits can allow you to avoid the nightmare of chemotherapy, the pain of physical therapy, and the horror that is cancer.

In memory of my father, I beg of you to do it for yourself.