...that bakes cookies and does loads of Pinterest-type crafts with my kids...or lathers their skin with the lovely scents of healing essential oils. I am not the kind of mom who encourages my girls to participate in all the latest and greatest things that are guaranteed to challenge their bodies and intellect and ultimately guarantee their success in the world. I am not the kind of mom who has neatly organized chore charts on the fridge or hanging in their bedrooms. I am not the kind of mom who does all the neat nurturing "mom" things I envy other moms for. I am the kind of mom who severely limits time on technology and engages my girls in meaningful conversation at the dinner table. I am the kind of mom who rewards my girls greatly when they think to ask me (with interest) how my day at work was. I am the kind of mom who is willing to uproot my family several times over until I am confident we have found the best place for our family to have deep enough soil to root in and sufficient enough space to spread our wings and fly. I don't tell my girls daily that they can be anyone they want to be when they grow up (because I am tired and I forget) but I do try to show them through my actions and the inspiring stories I share with them during our nighttime reading ritual. I am the kind of mom who teaches my daughters that life can be hard and choices have real consequences that can sometimes feel hard to live with. I am the kind of mom who sometimes screams or trips over her own toes, who falls down and cries and then picks herself up and apologizes unabashedly when necessary. I am the kind of mom who is real with my girls about the challenges that we, her parents, face sometimes and reveals that while it can be hard, we choose to stay in and work it out and are both better people because of it. I don't hide that stuff. I choose to be transparent so that they learn how to live life. I ask my girls if they heard me slam the door and if they felt that something was going on with me. When they say yes, I ask if they want to know what was up. When they say yes, I am honest about my anger and transparent about the roots of it to the extent that their level of maturity can handle...and tell them that one day, if and when they want to know more, I will be happy to share. They live in my energy day in and day out. There is no escaping that. While I have had high expectations for myself, I have often fallen short of them...in my own eyes. I am the kind of mom who strives to be better at all that I am each and every day but most of all strives to be real. While I may never be the kind of mom I have envied other mothers for being, I can be real with my daughters about who I am, shortcomings and all, and hopefully free them to be fully themselves too. I guess if "being real and transparent" is a kind of mom then that is the kind of mom I am.
Silent witnesses to the coming and going of wild wind and bashful breeze, of setting sun and rising moon, of summer giving way to autumn, winter, spring, summer all over again. One generation plants, another grows, another basks beneath expansive canopy, another swings from its benevolent branches, another harvests for warmth by the fire or a safe haven to call home. So strong and robust yet so utterly sensitive to shifts in climate which leave it unbearably parched or with rotted root vulnerable to pests and robbed of essential nutrients. Its insides become barren and brittle and it loses its luster which beckons our gaze and approach. It dies a slow or quick death depending on whose eyes are watching. It resists not. It stands strong no longer. When it falls it becomes home and sustenance for a billion tiny creatures...mostly imperceptible to the human eye but dutifully doing their part to call it home once again...back to the circle of life from whence it came. Selfless and seemingly silent in nature like the God who called it into being. If trees could speak oh the things they would tell us. But are we ready to listen?
Ten years ago today I gave birth for the first time. I was both terrified and elated...a shared experience by most birthing mamas I would assume. This blossoming being inside of me was head-butting my sciatic nerve in an attempt to find her way through the small canal that would serve as her entry point into the world of opportunities awaiting her. I was doing my all to breathe her out but tensing up to avoid the feeling of a freight train coming through an impossibly small opening in my body. Seconds seemed like minutes, minutes like hours and hours like an eternity. I was in a serious time warp. Her birth was assisted by our brave apprenticing mid-wife and my husband...her papi. After sixty-plus hours of labor, the repetitive deep knee squats - an exercise worthy of an olympic training routine - finally caused the water sac surrounding her little body to burst with a loud bang. Thirty minutes later she emerged into her daddy's arms. The three back-up midwives were tied up by a Denver April blizzard. One of them had visited earlier that day and advised me that a birthing mother had more strength and stamina than one could ever know. That was all I needed to hear to stay the course and stick it out at home. While speed may not be my greatest strength, stamina is one of them. For better or worse, I have a knack for sticking things out long after others jump ship or quit. This quality has served me well in life and also gotten me into trouble, but in this case was definitely an asset. My family was far away and likely had no idea I was even in labor, a bittersweet part of the whole experience. Her birth took place during the time when I was out of connection with them. The passage of time, a deep desire for my daughters to know their maternal roots, my enlightened understanding of the agony and ecstasy of motherhood, and the capacity to see and accept my parent's humanity and forgive them for it were just a few of the things that inspired re-connection with them. Those years of disconnect felt like an eternity and a blink all in one. The birthing experience felt the same way...as did the following decade. Spiritual practice slowed time down and allowed me to become deeply aware of my in and out breath and of each passing moment. Birthing and rearing two daughters has done much the same when I allow myself to see them as pure gift and blessing. In the same way deep contemplation, spiritual teachers and community revealed my growing edges, my daughters do much the same. While we are vehicles for the gift of life for our children, they, in turn, have the capacity to gift us with a renewed experience of life. My daughters have slowed time down and forced me to get real with whatever happens to be lingering inside of me. They serve as a mirror in case I refuse to spend the time looking within. As they mature and grow in confidence and courageous self-expression, they speak uninhibitedly just the words I need to hear. Today she is ten, tomorrow she will be twenty. I pray to embrace, celebrate and live to the fullest each second, minute, hour, day and year in hopes that she will continue to do the same in the midst of a world that tries to convince her to do otherwise.
I'm Kelly Isabelle.
Full-time workin' mama & spouse aspiring to live a slowly paced, sustainably minded, creatively expressed, clutter-free life shared with kindred folk.