Shout out to Moms

M&M hanging with their mama

Mother’s Day is this weekend.  I hope for a few hours to veg alone either at Stauf’s or on a massage table or on a run along the river.  I hope for nothing more than a couple of home-made pictures from M&M telling me that I am the bomb and that I am super cool. 

I remember reading Anne Lamott’s piece on Mother’s Day (Why I hate Mother\’s Day) a year or so ago.  My girlfriend at the time was contemplating whether to have a child – she is a professional with a good job, husband, house, dogs and she is heavily involved in the community. 

In thinking about her dilemma, I thought about what M&M have brought to my life.  Can I imagine life without them now?  No way.  Could I have imagined life without kids before I had them.  Probably.  It would have allowed me to get more involved in the community, go to events I wanted to attend whenever I wanted to do so, get up in the morning and go for a long run, have more freedom to do just what I desired.  Now I have to adjust my schedule for the kids and give up on events and gatherings that I would otherwise be inclined to attend because I want to be with M&M (and when I don’t to be with them particularly, I feel obliged to be!).  I would never regret the decision to have my munchballs – they fill me with joy and amazement and good times – but I do believe that a person can decide to forego the baby route and still lead a fulfilling, complete life as Anne Lamott argues in her piece.  My girlfriend ended up going the baby route and she has her ups and downs and her frustrations like all of us moms do.  And I know that she does not regret her decision but I am sure there are those days that we all have where we daydream about all we were able to do in this world “pre-baby.”

Me and my girls with sweet baby Grace

I don’t mind the idea of a Mother’s Day celebration or any “Hallmark” celebration for that matter.  We lead such hectic lives that if it takes a special day to make us slow down to recognize the people who mean the most to us, why not?  Earlier today, I watched the newscasters on NBC became emotional when looking back at their moms’ presence in their lives.  As much as I wanted to roll my eyes at this manufactured sentimentality, I found myself thinking about the women in my life and feeling appreciation and gratitude for their presence in my life.  In the end, it is those moments we have throughout our days that keep us plugging along the bumpy road that life can bring us. 

I hope that my mom realizes how much I love her in spite of our battles throughout high school and college.  I now look back at those spats and my anger and frustration and don’t see the woman I saw through my 17 year-old eyes; rather, I see a woman who was full of passion and wonder and yearning to try to find herself and the life that she wanted to live –

My mom and Ri

very similar to the struggle I face in juggling motherhood, my job, being a wife and a member of my community.  Now she has stepped into the grandma role helping me raise M&M and giving me a sounding board whenever I struggle with work issues or anxiety about whether I am damaging my children.  She has reinforced in me that I am a strong, intelligent woman, and she has always supported me.   

Meg and Ri


I hope that my stepmom realizes how much I love her for sticking with our crazy clan during the roughest of times (me as a teenager and Sarah as a toddler – god help her).  Meg-pie walks to her own tune refusing to conform to any norm.  She exudes confidence and strength and has always provided support and comfort to me in the worst of times (between breaking up with my high school boyfriend to managing a rogue boss).  She has taught me to always question and to always wonder – as hard and taxing as it may be at times – it’s the only way to grow. 

Patty with M&M

I hope that Patty realizes how much I love her for being a warm, dynamic mom to Jon and providing him with the skills and compassion to be such a loving father to M&M.  Patty exudes energy and has a zest for life that challenges my energy (and we’re thirty years apart!).  She has gone to the limits for M&M taking them for days at a time and playing with them for hours on end.  She gives her whole self to her family, and never declines a chance to spend time with us.  Her spirit is infectious. 

Great Grandma!

I hope that my Grandma Menkedick realizes how much I love her because she is an amazing, incredible, persevering woman who has made a mark on me that serves me well every day of my life (my late Grandma Heile also serves the same role for me).  G-ma teaches me to be humble and gracious and to stand up for myself.  She is the first one to tell me that I need to tell my boss that I won’t work late hours; tell M&M that bedtime is at 9 pm and there will be no getting out of bed; and make my body take some rest time.  She keeps me in line and she reminds me of the power of living in the moment and appreciating the small things be it vegetables ripe from the field or watching late-night tv on the couch with a glass of coke and Pringles.

I have been lucky to have so many strong, energetic, passionate players in my life, many of them women. As Anne Lamott states:

“The main thing that ever helped mothers was other people mothering them; a chain of mothering that keeps the whole shebang afloat. I am the woman I grew to be partly in spite of my mother, and partly because of the extraordinary love of her best friends, and my own best friends’ mothers, and from surrogates, many of whom were not women at all but gay men. I have loved them my entire life, even after their passing.”

So on this Mother’s Day, I give a shout out to all of those women and the many others who have marked my life – thanks for bringing me the experiences that have led me to who I am today.  I love you all.

Another save by Anne Lamott

Maria and Mario enjoying the slide on one of our routine park trips!

Anne Lamott deserves eternal grace and love.  She continues to pull me through rough times and ground me on this Earth, feet flat, eyes ahead, mouth situated upwards.  Not even my hubby or my kids can take me to the place she leads me where I feel a deep comfort and appreciation for all I have and who I am.  No matter if I just had a wreck of work day, a blowout with my kids, a frantic eating frenzy of chocolate and pizza – her stories penetrate. 

I read her story about her friend David Roche tonight (  I have read it at least ten times before but I specifically hunted it down on the internet tonight because I knew it would lift me up.  David is a humorist.  He happens to have a facial deformity, too.  He uses it to lift people out of their house of fear and to open up their mind to the beauty in their world.  He talks about the fleeting moments of true happiness and bliss. 

…[E]veryone has come to understand that unconditional love is a reality, but with a shelf life of about eight to ten seconds. Instead of beating yourself up because you feel it only fleetingly, you should savor those moments when it appears. As David puts it, “We might say to our beloved, ‘Honey, I’ve been having these feelings of unconditional love for you for the last eight to ten seconds.’ Or, ‘Darling, I’ll love you till the very end of dinner.'”

Mario's tenth silly face

Oh, how true.  I have been beating myself up lately because of my irritation with not feeling more of these incredible, awe-inspiring moments on a routine basis but this brings me back to reality.  Stop wishing for more of these moments and instead relish in the moments that do come my way.  I am quite sure that Maria’s raucous laugh or Mario’s silly faces or Jon’s adoring comments could produce an unconditional love-filled moment or two but I often brush it aside as I try to plan for the next day or the upcoming meal or bath time.  I will try to let it wash over me from now on and live in that moment of bliss. 

Maria laughing it up after diving in the pool with her clothes on!

I took Maria and Mario to the park tonight to play in the sand volley ball court and run around the jungle gym.  A group of parents were in the park with their kids watching them play soccer.  I stood talking with another mom who was holding one of her newborn twins.  As I stood with her, I occasionally glanced over at M&M who were skipping through the sand and dragging sticks behind them.  I watched them as they ran together to the jungle gym and Maria teased Mario all the way up the stairs to the slide and then helped him situate himself to go down feet first.  They giggled together and yelled for each other.  I look back on those moments this evening as I sit at this computer and I smile.  What more to wish for at this time in life than a pair of kids who find humor in each other and enjoy the outdoors and nature and fresh air and fall nights.  We are blessed by someone or something to be able to take in all of the smells of Fall, all of the energy of young kids, all of the beauty of a falling sun. 

M&M hanging tight on the ride home

Thanks, Anne, for letting me mediate on this tonight.

Anne Lamott quote

M&M splashing it up at the pool

Ok, so I just had to talk one more day about Anne Lamott and put a quote out here that I love of hers.  It comes from Plan B Further Thoughts on Faith.  Wonderful Book.  Here is the quote:

“I don’t know why the most we can hope for on some days is to end up a little less crazy than before, less down on ourselves. ”

That wraps up my day today.  I felt a little less crazy than I have felt in a few weeks and a little more positive about where I am, who I am.  Ferron helped, too, I believe.  And that german chocolate cake Doris made tonight.  And hearing from my sis.  And a fun night at the pool with M&M.  I will go to bed with those soothing thoughts on my mind and hope for an even less crazier day tomorrow and less harshness from my own head about what I am doing, who I am, why I do the things I do.  Just be for once.  Ahh, it is all so clear at 11 pm at night…:)