Each of us has our moments of inner turmoil and we must find our way through those times without inflicting too much collateral damage on those who surround us. My father taught me long ago that nothing sooths the soul like time outside (“To the Trees!”). So today I headed to my favorite state park to tame the tigers wrestling in my thoughts. While enjoying a walk around the lake, the clouds rolled in, the sky got dark and I found myself in the midst of a storm. Slowly it dawned on me that life is full of storms. Some storms we see coming and others happen before we’ve had time to prepare.
I wrote about my mom last week for Mother’s Day and loved sharing her story. But after writing that story I got to thinking about my journey as a mother. It has been a journey full of storms and I often fear that I have been a better daughter than mother.
I remember years ago in the midst of a parenting storm, when feeling particularly inadequate as a mother, my oldest son over heard me say to my mom, “how come I’m not as good a mom as you? He grabbed me when I hung up the phone and gave me a great big hug. He then looked at me and said, “Gramma has Pappa . . . you deal with our craziness all by yourself.”
Wow! How did that boy get to be such a smart young man? He’s right. If parenthood is full of craziness and storms, then single parenthood is doubly so!
Several years ago I found myself in the delivery room of a thirteen year old girl as she was about to become a mother. She had called me in tears, crying “Ms. Martha, please come - I’m scared!” When I walked into that room and saw that frightened little girl on the bed, my heart ripped wide open. I could not imagine her fear. And yet in some ways I could relate. Motherhood is a great unknown. I can’t imagine facing it at 13.
I was a grown woman when I became a mother for the first time and have felt inadequate, scared and confused more times than I can count. And then there are moments when my sons stun me with their wisdom and I can’t help swell with love and a bit of pride as I think “they learned that from me”.
My younger son, Joel, recently informed me in one of his raging moments that his anger wasn’t about me and he had no reason to be mad at me. I was just collateral damage. He was right and wise enough to understand himself. It was another one of those moments when I had to smile to myself as my heart swelled with love and a touch of pride.
How often do we, in the midst of the storms in our life, deflect our turmoil onto an innocent bystander? Perhaps it’s a full on rage or maybe just a comment laced with sarcasm but we’ve all had moments when our personal storms have showered down at just the wrong time and in just the wrong place.
I now find myself on a new journey of motherhood. One in which I learn as much from my sons as I have taught them. Life truly is a circle. Whatever storms lie ahead, I’m happy to be in the middle. I may have to spend a lot of time in the woods and parks in order to tame the tigers (and alligators) of my soul, but I’ll find the rainbows which always follow the storm.