XI. Mother’s Day is For All the Women Who Do Hard Things

I have low expectations for Mother’s Day every year. It’s not that I don’t love my mother and mother-in-law, and all the women who have raised me up and influenced me. I absolutely do love and appreciate them.

It’s just that my experience as a mother has, in many ways, been such a cluster cuss.

I love my sons, in their various incarnations. They have strengths and gifts that amaze me. But success as a mother in my circumstance feels elusive.

For thirteen years, I have not been able to do enough or be enough for Jack. In a general sense, I’m sure God sees me as enough of a mom, but the reality is that I really can’t fix anything. I have only been able to hold on, overseeing Jack’s medical & psychological care, education, sensory integration needs, and behavior therapy.

With Jeff’s help, I’ve facilitated Jack living in our home for thirteen years.

For the past few months, I’ve been feeling like there is no way to win in this scenario. We are losing, in every sense, with Jack at home. Now, this very week, he is entering residential care (see *ten* previous posts—not hyperbole, for real). While it’s necessary, it doesn’t feel like a success story.

There are no winners here.

And yet, as I drove the boys to my parents’ house Saturday afternoon so Henry could mow their lawn, I contemplated Mother’s Day, and clearly unearthed this insight:

Mother’s Day is to celebrate women who labor in all sorts of impossible situations.

It’s not about the cultural ideal of the curated Instagram mom who exudes glossy perfection. It’s not about the mother we wish we were. It’s about appreciating the real work that real mothers everywhere do.

It’s about valuing what I have done for Jack these thirteen difficult years.

It feels like I have shed a skin. I’ve sloughed off my old Mother’s Day lassitude. It’s energizing to think of these long years of serving Jack not as a failed experiment—a plodding, inevitable, doomed trajectory.

Instead I can see this season, when I was able to care for Jack in our home, as a baker’s dozen years—a consecrated time of serving, suffering, and growing.

I’m thankful all my boys got to live here with Jeff and me for a time.

I’m thankful Jack has a place to go so we can all be safe and keep functioning.

I’m thankful we are connected as a family by eternal bonds.

I’m thankful to be Jack’s mom.

Happy Mother’s Day to me.

Happy Mother’s Day to Shirley, Joyce, and Grandma Snow.

Happy Mother’s Day to the women in heaven who went before me and loved me: Grandma Goates, Beverly, Grandma Wilcox, Colleen, and Grandma Lila.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who do hard things, who keep going, loving, and hoping, despite the sorrows and disappointments of mortality.


*yiddle me and my mom (babe), circa 1979

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