Last Monday, I woke with a start.
“It’s so quiet,” my husband said from the other side of the bed.
I felt strangely rested. I checked my phone. It was 8:00 a.m., two hours later than my usual wake up call.
I brushed my teeth, went into the hall and saw that my daughter’s bedroom door was open, and her crib empty. I heard muffled giggles. I slowly pushed through my morning brain fog and remembered my mom was visiting.
I went to the kitchen, and there, sitting just outside the back door, was my mom holding my daughter. It’s rare to see my toddler so calm and quiet. She was pointing at something. When I looked up, I saw birds perched on our back fence, chirping. My daughter continued to point and my mom explained that they were just doing what birds do. They were singing.
When my mom noticed I was watching them, they came inside and we started our day. As we went about our day, taking care of my daughter – getting her dressed, feeding her, reading to her and playing with her, running errands together – I realized that our motherhoods were merging.
There is no loud crash as they join. Just a simple, magical meeting. The intersecting of two stories.
Yes, we are in different stages of motherhood, but we are mothering at the same time. One of us is reminiscing while the other is looking to the future. One of us is missing the early stage of constantly being with her children, and the other rejoices when she gets a minute alone. One of us contemplates her identity in the midst of physical and even emotional separation from her children, while the other wonders if she can ever distinguish herself as someone other than a mother ever again.
She’s in the slow uninterrupted part of motherhood. She spends her days praying for her children, yearning to be with us, remembering what it’s like to mother a young child while taking care of mine. I’m in the fast pace of it, just barely keeping my head above the tumultuous waters of toddler hood, trying to keep the house in order and her alive.
What I’m learning is that what is most beautiful about motherhood is its disarray. It’s in the face of misadventures that I’m discovering my imperfections and rejoicing in them, because they’re what make me mature and flourish. In the midst of the clamor, we as moms are the ones who have the privilege of watching our children make mistakes, learn and grow. And when the world gets a little too overwhelming or they come across hardships, we get to be the ones who hold their hands and guide them through. We get to point at our own flaws and tribulations and show them living proof that they can and will move past them. That is the beauty of it – that I can turn to my own mom for comfort and see that she has overcome the obstacles I am facing today, right now. And in her kindness and love, she continues to hold my hand through it all.
And it’s a harmony. Though we are at different junctures of motherhood, we are singing the same song.