The alarm went off and I headed into the kitchen to prepare the syringe of CBD oil. Andy was out on a walk preparing for his annual AT hike so I was on medication duty. As I climbed the stairs to wake Austin, I thought of Mother’s Day and all the mixed emotions this made up holiday brings to people. When the boys were young, I had far too much invested in this holiday. My high expectations invariably led to disappointment. There was still butts to wipe, mouths to feed, tears to dry and I needed a break. A break from mothering. Most Mother’s Days, I just wanted to be left alone. After getting the little homemade gifts some wonderful teacher forced my children to create, Andy would take over the mothering and I would get a chance to breathe.
This morning. I walked into the dimly lit bedroom and patted Austin’s leg telling him to wake up because it was time for his CBD oil. The magic elixir and current fix we have put all our hopes into stopping his seizures. One in a long line of failed elixirs so, we will see. As usual, Austin was less than thrilled to wake up and did not roll over despite my several nudges. If this were Mother’s Day 19 years ago, a small nugget of resentment would be starting to build inside me. Why should I have to be the one to wake up Austin for his medication – It’s Mothers Day! Why does my kid have to have autism and seizures on Mother’s Day? Why don’t I have kids who make me breakfast on Mother’s Day? Why don’t I have kids who even have Mother’s Day on their emotional radar? It’s Mother’s Day – what about me???
To be honest, all this resentment would have come out as anger towards Austin for not popping up immediately and dutifully taking his medicine. Then later, my anger mixed with guilt would be directed inward giving myself more proof of my inadequacies.
Today, instead, I closed my eyes and did a two minute meditation just following my breath while Austin continued to face the wall ignoring my nudges. Movement. I opened my eyes as Austin was sitting up looking at me through dazed eyes. Those eyes, the same eyes that looked out at me from his crib. He may have a full beard and thinning hair, but at 22, those eyes are the same. I love those eyes. He opened his mouth like a baby bird and I squirted that syringe full of oil towards the inside of his cheek so none spilled out. He had a hard time swallowing it and spent at least a minute swishing it around in his mouth, a determined look on his face. My eyes filled with tears overwhelmed with my love for this kid. I watched in awe of the challenges he overcomes daily. I leaned over and kissed him on his shoulder – his favorite form of affection. I whispered, “Austin, thank you for making me a Mom.” He swallowed his medicine, chugged the milk I brought him and said, “Can I go back to sleep, now?” Yes, yes is my answer – sleep well my beautiful boy.
This is what I do, I mother. Sometimes reluctantly, always wholeheartedly so why should today be different from any other. On Mother’s Day, I mother.
I went back downstairs and Jake came out of his room. He said, “Hi” and continued to the bathroom to shower. Does he remember it is Mother’s Day? Time will tell, but the other night while I was reading in my bedroom, Jake came back and said, “Can I tell you something?” Sure, always. He said, “You are awesome!” and gave me a big hug. Then he laid down on the bed and we had a little chat. Jake keeps to himself a lot so when he initiates a little chat, I sit up, I listen, I savor. My Mother’s Day was in that moment. It was in that moment and a million other moments throughout the past 22 years. It has been hard and joyous and fun and boring and lonely and energizing and beautiful. I get to mother these two human beings and I am grateful.
I am grateful to have learned the only thing I can control is my own reaction to things. I am grateful now I know that instead of grieving for what isn’t, acceptance of what is leads to so much joy.
Why should today be any different? On Mother’s Day and every day, I mother.