I've been doing a lot of thinking as I write my book, and especially as Mother's Day approaches, about what it means to be a mother. I remember how desperately I wanted to have a family; how devastated I was when I had a miscarriage; and then how ecstatic I felt when I finally gave birth to my first son seven years ago.
Then, a few months after that, I found out I was pregnant again -- and not just pregnant, but three months along. I was terrified about how I would manage two boys who were just 15 months apart, but it was also such a miracle and a gift. I vowed to protect my boys, to teach them, to build them up and never let them down.
My marriage fell apart when my kids were just three and two. I felt I failed them somehow. Like I had been unable to provide them with one of life's basic necessities. But as unfair and heartbreaking as it was, it was also an opportunity to teach them resilience and how to roll with the punches. I was miserable at first, but I knew if I couldn't give them a traditional family, they would have the best and happiest mom I could muster.
I saw a therapist, and that was the first and biggest step toward getting my life back on track. As I began to see the possibilities, many things followed after that: new friends, new hobbies, new jobs, nice boyfriend, increased independence, and so forth. I even sold my wedding rings and changed my last name back to my maiden. I had the confidence to apply for my Masters of Fine Arts, and the courage to pursue it when I was accepted. I just want to keep going and going, proving to myself, and most importantly my boys, what their mother is made of.
As I figured out everything from how to manage my finances online to how to fix a flat tire on the side of a country road, it was my boys who inspired me at every crossroads. They have made me want to become bigger, better, stronger.
I think of their little faces, the way they throw their arms around my neck, the "I love Mommy" pictures they bring home from school every week, the way they ask how my book is coming along.
I think of the way we laugh together, the road trips I've taken with them all by myself, the shared memories, the intimate conversations, the way I know their thoughts before they've had the chance to speak.
I love how connected we are; we are The Three Amigos, The Three Musketeers or The Three Stooges, depending on the day. It's just us, looking out for one another, inspiring one another, guiding one another.
Motherhood is undoubtedly the biggest undertaking I've ever managed. It's the most all-consuming task I've ever attempted. Some days I'm tired. Some days I'm not so happy. But I want to show them that certain things are in their control. I want them to go forward and make choices that bring them happiness. I want them to have faith and to be unafraid.
I can't promise them a fairy tale ending; I already know that in real life those don't exist. But I hope they will have the skills to write their story. And I want them to know I will always be there for them, trying to inspire them the way they inspire me.
This Mother's Day isn't just about me; it's about celebrating one another and our accomplishments as a little team.
I think we've earned it.