On Mother's Day at church this year, I stood up with all the other mums at mass that morning when the priest asked all mothers to stand for a blessing; as I have for the past four years. And, also as I have for the past four years, my eyes welled up in the moment as I looked around me at the mixed assortment of mums we all were.
There was me and my mother-in-law, separated in our pew by my father-in-law and my two kids; her two grandkids. While her "kid" sat next to me as my husband. There was a new mom swaying side to side holding her newborn. An experienced mom flanked on either side by her teenage children. Someone's mum who was no younger than 75 that was alone in her pew, but standing for the blessing all the same. Young moms, older moms, friends of mine who are moms, mums I've admired growing up, moms I never knew; but all of us moms.
The priest's prayer, I regretfully admit, was drowned out in my mind by the sudden urge to shout, "Wait. Just stop a second," as I was deeply moved to just call all us moms in the center aisle for a giant group hug.
I didn't announce that, but rather I stood there with my poor heart in a vice and tears in my eyes as I thought- we are all the same. Haven't we all spent a sleepless night worrying about a sick child? Haven't we all picked up a cup of coffee mid-morning only to realize it was already cold? Haven't we all smiled at a child's first discovery of some tiny life experience we up until that moment forgot to appreciate? Haven't we all berated ourselves that we could be better, that we need to try not to screw this thing up as much as possible?
It is not only on Mother's Day, but quite frequently in flashes of emotion that I also think too of the mothers of my life that have passed away. My two grandmothers who passed before I officially became a mother, although my maternal grandmother was present for most of my first pregnancy. It is now, as a mum, that I feel even more connected to my grandmothers, even though neither of them ever had the chance to meet my children or see what kind of mother I turned out to be.
And obviously, the very profound and startling realization that all new moms must feel after the birth of their first child towards their own mother. My own written here.
I also recently read Cheryl Strayed's birth story and agree with Jill and Sara that this passage from the post sums up the basics of having a baby:
"Every time I had a contraction I thought, you have got to be f*cking kidding me!It seemed preposterous that this was the way birth got done.I felt solidly and profoundly connected to all the female mammals of the world.Not just the women who’d birthed, but the cats and the bears and the lemurs too."
And even with that deep realization that I experience every mother's day and the profound connectedness that I feel with all mother mammals in the world or in history (truly!), I still am plagued with moments of other-mom-judgement on a regular basis. Even despite the fact that I daily scold my former pre-mom self for proclamations I so arrogantly vowed I would never do as a mother myself.
And even though I have a deep respect for anyone that contributes love, learning, and support to any child in any capacity; I still carry my own versions of, "ugh, that's not how you should be doing that," issues towards other moms and their choices - usually without any insight to their own personal struggles or journeys.
This is not something I admit proudly, I hope that much is obvious. But it is something that I continually want to try to be better at. And out of all of these reflections, I have decided to host an interview series on the blog this summer with Moms that are very different, yet somehow (as all moms are) also inexplicably exactly like me - and maybe you'll find exactly different and yet somehow like you.
Maybe getting a peek into their everyday lives, struggles, and total commonplace normalcy that we each experience - it will help me (and all of us) see that every mom we see from our own moms, to our sisters, to our friends, to the mom from the blogs we read, to the mom we pass in the grocery store is simply just a Mom Next Door. Just like us, no matter how she chooses (or her current situation dictates) that her life and motherhood may be different from our own.
Each Tuesday this summer, I hope to post a new interview from another Mom Next Door. With questions ranging from 'What are the small joys you treasure each day as a Mum' to 'What keeps you up at night,' to 'What do you feel like you wish you did better as a Mum.'
I have some Mums in mind that I'd love to interview because they inspire me - but I'd love to hear from all moms - old, young, experienced, or brand new mums. Please reach out to me if you - or someone you know would like to be interviewed at firstname.lastname@example.org
I can't wait to get this series started and hopefully get a weekly reminder that every mom is struggling and loving this very unique and somehow all very same journey. Join me on Tuesdays this summer for the Mom Next Door Interview Series!