A Different Kind of Mother’s Day

New Mother's Day tradition? Running the R.O.C. race in Del Mar.

New Mother’s Day tradition? Running the R.O.C. race in Del Mar.

Though publishing anything here has been difficult for me of late, I felt a Mother’s Day blog was a non-negotiable.

It must happen.

This will be my third one, which means that I’ve been publishing for almost three years. Blogging feels like dog years. It’s been a really long time and in case you haven’t noticed, I’m slowing down.

It’s not that I’m not writing. It’s just that I’m writing about things I can’t share with all of you.

When I started the blog, Keara was 14. She was just starting at an all-girls, Catholic high school, with all the innocence of an oldest child raised in PG household. For the most part, she wasn’t even watching prime time TV yet. Finn was 12 and puberty seemed a long way off. Molly was still a baby in my eyes and she was happy in that role. Their stories were mine to use and though I was respectful, they didn’t have much of a choice. They could say “yes” or “no”, but with mom looking over their shoulder, eager to hit “publish,” I never once had a kid stop me.

Over time, especially in the last year, that well has dried up. There are plenty of stories, juicy ones too: love, loss, betrayal, effort and reward, victory and defeat, but for the most part, they are no longer mine to tell. I am a witness to them; I may be a part of them. I am learning, growing and changing from them, but the major players no longer want to be on stage and without them, the theater seems empty.

How many one-woman plays can an audience stand?

I guess we won’t know the answer unless I keep publishing, which I plan to do, just perhaps less frequently.

The other day, I watched an interview with Sue Monk Kidd, best known for her novels, The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair among others. She was married at 20, a mother of 2 kids and a working nurse by 25. On her 30th birthday, she announced to her family that she was going to become a writer. She was over 50 when her first novel was published. For obvious reasons, I was encouraged by her timeline, but what I appreciated even more was her wisdom.

When asked, “What do you know for sure?” Kidd replied, “What you pay attention to matters; the love I gave, the love I received are the most important things. Just to be is holy. Just to live is a gift. I know that for sure.” She also quoted Stephen Hawking, who said, “Real genius is radical humility, for when you humble yourself before what you don’t know, you open yourself to possibility.”

Listening to Kidd shifted my focus. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and though I hope for some authentic gestures of love and gratitude from my family, I’m going to pay attention to the things that matter. I can give love; I can be present. I will never be a genius, but life seems eager to work on my humility each and every day, which is great, because I want to be open to possibility.

Before she turned her hand to fiction, Sue Monk Kidd wrote three spiritual memoirs, which I discovered several years ago. Though I like her stories, I love her own. While reading When the Heart Waits, I took a passage and put it on a sticky note on my laptop. Though it isn’t always open, I see the title every day. It is called, “Sue Monk Kidd’s Prayer and Mine too” and it goes like this:

God,

I don’t want to live falsely, in self-imposed prisons and fixed comfortable patterns that confine my soul and diminish the truth in me. So much of me has gone underground. I want to let my soul out. I want to be free to risk what’s true, to be myself. Set free the daring in me – the willingness to go within, to see the self-lies. I’ll try to run away, but don’t let me. Don’t let me stifle myself with prudence that binds the creative re-visioning of life and the journey toward wholeness.

I’m scared. God make me brave. Lead me in the enormous spaces of becoming. Help me cease the small, tedious work of maintaining and protecting, so that I can break the masks that obscure your shining in the night of my own soul. Help me to green my soul and risk becoming the person you created me to be. 

Tomorrow I may regret these words, but tonight I speak them, for I know that you are somewhere inside them, that you love me and won’t leave me alone in their echo.

Amen

She wrote that prayer some time around 40 and when asked on the show, “Have you become the woman you wanted to be?” Kidd said, “I am becoming that woman, yes.”

At 65 years old, she is becoming. I love that. Twenty-five years later, her prayer is still being answered.

Too often, I think the answers should already be known (by me) and the outcome assured. I falsely believe that I should have already arrived, but Kidd’s response humbled me. If I can accept that I am becoming and always will be, the possibilities are endless, not just for me, but for all of us.

So Happy Mother’s Day to those of you who have given birth, or raised children and loved your little ones so much you thought your heart would break, but a special note of gratitude to everyone who has nurtured something new within themselves and had the courage to share it with the world. Neither are small tasks and both are necessary for the good of the world.

Postscript:

Just in case you think I’m exaggerating how much my family life has changed over the last few years, here is a visual perspective.

Mother's Day breakfast at Pipes Cafe, 2012

Mother’s Day breakfast at Pipes Cafe, 2012

Here are some pictures of the kids taken within the last couple weeks, just two years later. I couldn’t even put the same filter on the images to make them look more cohesive. It felt dishonest, since they are so different and yet each image perfectly captures the attitude they put out the world: Keara crosses her arms, suspicious of it all. Finn is literally one of the most “laid-back”people I know and Molly is going to give you a smile and play the game, any time, any day.

PicMonkey Collage

Keara at 17, Finn at 15 and Molly at almost 12.

 

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6 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Mother’s Day

  1. Ali, Thanks for sharing another beautifully written story which is so relatable and reflective. We enjoyed sharing the ROC experience with your family today.

  2. Ali,
    This is lovely, and I love your wisdom, too. The Hawking quote and the Kidd prayer resinate with me (long time since I used that word! ;o)). I am closer to SMK’s age than yours, and am past the time when my four kids’ edit my work. They love to figure in my sermons and other writings these days! I also am heartened to know that others of my vintage are still becoming, too, as there are many voices that seem to say it should have happened years and years ago. Thanks for the encouragement you give!
    Cheryl

    • Cheryl-
      Thank you for the kind words and encouragement. I am sorry it has taken too long to respond. I would love to hear you preach some time. Where are you located? Maybe I can come find you?

  3. Ali,
    I really enjoyed your blog. The “God,” one was just what I need today to feel inspired. I know that on another day I was having a difficult day (maybe only in my mind, but that is the worse kind) I read something you wrote that was able to turn my head in a different more positive direction. Today again, I saw your name on FB, and “aha”…. I want to find something that Ali has posted to assist me in feeling more enlightened today. I needed to read this to be reminded to get out of my “fixed comfortable patterns” & take off any masks that are preventing me from living more authentically and genuinely. After having multiple surgeries that sometimes feel like they are preventing me from stepping forward in my life, I am willfully wanting to move past those defining times and create different ones. There are moments such as at Cal Cup I feel like I don’t fit in, or don’t belong. After reading some of your blog I was thinking, it’s more so that I’d rather have a meaningful conversation with one or two people, than lots of superficial ones with many. I’d rather listen to what means something to a person, than what the weather is going to be like or what time the next game is. I can understand the struggle many of our children must feel with much less life experience to fall back on, making decisions about who to be, who to become. I am really proud of your daughter Kiera. You have created a safe place for her to express her beautiful self to the world. I know part of her shining light has originated from you! What a wonderful story of how your kids have merged into “themselves”……
    Have a wonderful day, and thank you for making mine !
    xoxo
    Jeannie

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