There are many times during motherhood when I have felt the fight and flight response which is why I asked my good friend Kelly about Mother Warriors right before her first grandchild made his grand appearance into this world. I knew she would offer her own unique perspective of what it meant to be a mother warrior and she didn’t disappoint me. This is her response when I asked:
When I say ‘Mother Warrior’, you say/think/feel, etc…
My babies are all grown up. As I write this, I am just days away from becoming a grandmother. Another reminder that time marches on, always, and we circle through life with its beginnings and endings and new beginnings and hopefully, somewhere along the way, we learn to be content when we sit in the middle.
It’s spring and all the birds are busy making nests. I watch the red cardinal bring seed to his far-more-subtle mate, a gift of food, but also something more: the pattern of survival they have worked out together. I lay these eggs, you bring me millet. I wash these diapers, you cook the lasagna. I walk to the roof to stare at the sky, you sit in that chair with your feet on the ground at all times.
After all these years, it’s hard to remember what life was like when my son was a baby. Or a five-year-old, or 13. Oh, the memories are there, the ones stuck in pages of photo albums, as well as those held tight in the corners of my mind, but it’s hard to remember what it felt like to be there. I get glimpses, sometimes, when all the children are home again and we slip back into our patterns and places in the muscle-memory of family. We reminisce about the good times, remembering the laughter, and shy away from the tears, the painful moments, the awkward silences. But the day-to-day details of what it was like to live those moments have been forgotten. And that’s the way of things, I suppose. Even our memories are choices, and I try hard to focus on the good ones, the snippets of the past that make me smile.
We had plenty of bumps and bruises along the way, just as all families do. Not one of us resembles perfect, and our family was a retro-fit, me and my son and my husband and his two children, all melded together into our very own amalgam. We formed a new family of five, cobbled together a home and then a history, forged our own shields and weapons, all with the intent of sending our babies out into the world with their own tools and patterns of survival. As parents, our goal was to impart the skills they will need to build their own nests and lay down their own life-circles. None of it was easy, of course, because raising children was never meant to be easy. But here’s the funny thing, the thing no one tells you in the beginning: it’s not the work or the protecting, the teaching or the discipline, the worry or the nurturing that end up being the hard part.
The hardest part is the letting go.
In the end, what rips your heart out is the very thing you spent all those years fighting for. New beginnings. And you do it, you open your arms and you let go, because that’s your job. That was always your job. You stand at the top of the hill, all battle-worn and real-life weary, and you wave them away, with a big smile on your face to mask the tears in your eyes.
You send them off into the sunset, the one on their own horizon. The one you taught them to admire.
You watch them soar.
And all you remember is the love.
Kelly Letky is a freelance graphic artist, poet, jewelry designer, photographer, writer, wife, mother, sister, daughter, crazy cat lady, friend, runner, knitter and gardener, not necessarily in that order.
She writes at www.mrsmediocrity.com and www.thebluemuse.com and lives with her husband, three cats and one dog in the rural countryside of Farmington, NY.