This mother's day for the first time in my life, I was given the full on star treatment that mothers get on Mother's Day. In years past, J would do her very best to make me something special - a piece of art, coupons I could trade for favors like two huggies and such other cuteness. She would worry that she was not doing nearly enough for me because other kids had dads or other adults around who could help them out. I could not assure her one big hug from her is was the best gift I could get and indeed that alone was enough.
After enjoying a big breakfast made by DB and J, I was out in the world today watching other mothers enjoying their stardom. Somewhere between breakfast, a visit to the fine arts museum and lunch, I responded to one blogger friend's request for six words to describe your mother. Mine were : Sunshine and lightning arrestor of pain. Later in the day another blogger recommended reading a poignant piece on motherhood. Reading these lines in the article was like listening to DB speak in the early days of our marriage :
Because if mothers don't teach their children how to be happy by example, who will? Maybe a mother's legacy -- along with unconditional love -- should include a lesson in self-preservation. Selfishness
He said the same thing in the context of my tendency to visit the sum total of my life's disappointments upon our then brand new marriage. I had of my own free will decided to give up a decade of my life for J's benefit. In doing so, I had abandoned the pursuit of my own dreams and happiness. Everything for "me" had to be on hold, until J was well situated. As it turns out that process was still not complete when DB and I married. It was only when he started asking me " What do you want to do to make you happy ?" that I realized I was so far gone that I could no longer define it. My life's purpose was so entwined with J that I could not extricate "myself" from it. Somewhere in that dense tangle of objectives was my personal happiness strand - too trivial to stand alone, choked out of life by everything else.
Instead of rejoicing in the support I now had from DB and making the most of it to pursue my unfulfilled goals, I became paralyzed realizing that "I" did not exist anymore. I would have to work really hard to find this person, remember what she once dreamed about and overcome the dead-weight of inertia to make some of them come to life. Indeed, I had done J and I great disservice in casting myself in the traditional mold of the martyr - like my mother and mothers before her - lightning arrestors of pain. Unlike her, I am a perhaps a little short on the sunshine. While I had never sought the martyr mantle for myself and have a healthy disdain for parents who assume one, I was failing in my fundamental responsibility as a mother - teaching J how to be happy and find happiness.