Women. Daughters, Mothers, Sisters, Friends.
I am thinking about friends of my Mother, friends of my daughters, and Mothers to others who are my friends – more than that – they are my gatekeepers, my right shoulder truth-bearers, heraldry of my right to love myself.
Some have no mothers. Some have two mothers. Others could have been my mother. Some are not even mothers, while still others are the mothers of children from other mothers, placed in their care to thrive. Some are amazing mothers even though they themselves were not mothered well. Some are mothers with children lost who forever reside within the holes they left behind in the very core of their mother’s being. Some are sisters, and some are soul sisters. One is me.
I found this week to be serendipitous. People (not just women) that I never expected to support my far-fetched perch showed up to cheer me on. It isn’t that I didn’t think they would support me. I just didn’t know they thought so much of me or my sweet unschooled boy or supporting our family’s adventures.
Here, I’ve done nothing to stay on the “right” path, the path that makes sense to others, the path that keeps me in charge (I am dependent on my spouse), or the path that fits society. It isn’t that I second guess the path, it’s that I hear the voices of my conditioning.
Then, there were those who showed up this week whom I know beyond any doubt hold leadership and counsel in my tribe – yet, I didn’t expect them to show up when they already show up every. single. day.
Humbling. Validating. Exciting, like when you realize that all that time you spent dwelling inside your head didn’t need to be kept a secret. I’m talking, you feel the heart emoji big time.
But, what really moved my heart into the groove of this flow were my own two daughters, and another motherless daughter of a friend. As a child, she found her deceased mother in the morning, sitting right where she had left her the night before when the daughter went upstairs to bed. This young woman has two babies her own mother will never see.
My own daughters are not even my flesh and blood. They are my husband’s girls, and my son’s half sisters. They are my steps, yes, but that is only their label.
To me, they are two women that I learned to mother and two women who let me into corners of their hearts even when they didn’t want to, were forced to, or had no other option but to let. me. be. part of their stories. These daughters were children when I was still selfish, having never mothered and having only been mothered, myself.
These women tore me apart inside. These women inspired my greatness. These women turned me inside out and upside down. I’m talking 360-no-scope. I’m talking they marked up and mucked up and twisted up my life path until I found myself so far from anything I ever expected to be that I wasn’t even sure I liked myself, much less understood the truth about self-love. These women, they raised me.
It turns out that step daughters have special powers. They laugh behind your back. They give you regrets. They bring you bird’s nests. They mess up your four-day weekends. They track mud into your heart, and when that clay dries, it is like you birthed them yourself.
No, really. A friend of mine passed away about a year ago, and she knew what I meant. She knew exactly what I meant. But, what I gained that I fear she might never have experienced is that regrets and muddy hearts can only remain as fresh as your intentions.
What I learned from these daughters of mine is that they are my mother, and every mother, and every woman, and every daughter, and every mother’s wish for her daughter’s soul – for the purest most treasured corners of her heart.
I don’t think my husband even understands this.
For, I don’t think any woman but his daughters have ever truly mucked up his heart and left dried clay tracks upon his soul.
And really, that is as it should be.
Because in all fairness, no human being has marked me up quite as eloquently as my only biological child, my son.
But, that is just a rhetorical statement.
When it comes to these women, it’s guttural, people. I mean raw, wretched, and mangled-giving-birth-without-drugs real. These girls, they shoved my own demons in my face like undeniable mirrors and drove me to hollow out the very essence of my female legacy.
After all things, their value to me is beyond measure*, for they bought me through the transition that allowed my life to erupt into magnificent motherhood.
*from Chapter 4: Starfish, in Diving with Snookie
Magpie fell into a whirlpool of her own creation, discovering diamonds disguised as starfish. She briefly embraced abandon as her heart fooled her into believing that she was in the tousled folds of pure satisfaction. Caught up in the newness of her reverie, she caught glimpses of the starfish swirling about her.
Starfish fell between the folds of satisfaction. Starfish tangled her hair. Starfish trailed along her sticky steps. Starfish pinned themselves to her ribs. Starfish stole her sparkle. Starfish demanded her sweetness. Starfish imprinted upon her heart.
Starfish swam with her to the top of the whirlpool and lit as diamonds upon its surface. Starfish embedded themselves into her soul. Bearing these starfish in her bosom, Magpie swam in a straight line toward Snookie with unforeseen speed, agility, finesse, and an agenda for eternity.
And they love their baby brother. And he adores them. And he has a little niece. And I guess I have a grandchild (even though my technically-only-child is just 8 years old). And there are significant others, and a father to that grandchild who has had measure over knocking our hearts about at times, further forcing our faces into self-reflection with only one viable outcome… honing the virtue of acceptance. Jump right back to that word… it means Love. Yes, because for parenting to be virtuous, it can only be about Love. And children remain children needing your love for as long as you are breathing.
And if they are lucky, like me, they will see that very love not dissipating when their mother’s body takes its last breath. For all her imperfections mixed up with vibrant personality, my own Mother’s validation of me permeated my every fiber as she drew hers.
That presence is reflected as self-love. It made letting go not only possible, but radiant. I felt and saw the light around me change in the moments and hours before and after her death, even though we were thousands of miles apart.
But, what brought me into this flow was something else, entirely.
After 51 years, I’ve finally found a way to give. When these women, these daughters of mine, including the motherless daughter with kids of her own and others like her who connect with me now, I feel my rightful place in simply being here for them. For comfort. Guidance. Reminders of who they intuit themselves to be. A place to check in before returning to their paths to follow their hearts like badass, beautiful warriors of life.
I realize that it all make sense when serendipity aligns the women who’ve helped me with the daughters of every generation and reflects back all the self-love I’ve learned along with all the selfless love given to me by others. And I’m still receiving it, just as I enter the turn style to give it back.
To give it back to Women. Daughters, Mothers, Sisters, Friends. Friends of my Mother, friends of my daughters, and Mothers to others who are my friends. The gatekeepers, the right shoulder truth-bearers, the heraldry of our right to self-love.
Some have no mothers. Some have two mothers. Others could have been my mother. Some are not even mothers, while still others are the mothers of children from other mothers, placed in their care to thrive. Some are amazing mothers even though they themselves were not mothered well. Some are mothers with children lost who forever reside within the holes they left behind in the very core of their mother’s being. Some are sisters, and some are soul sisters.
One is me.
Magpie, aka Maggie Love, aka maggieorganizingchaos, aka Mags… and Mom.