"The story is told of a woman who rushed up to the late Fritz Kreisler after a concert and cried, "Oh, Mr. Kreisler, I'd give my life to play as you do!" and the great violinist replied, "I did." The true professional gives everything, his very existence, and what he gets in return is nothing less than himself. He - or she - finds out who he is and what he is made of. There is no guarantee he will like who he is, but he will know something the amateur never learns. It is the old, old law that so exasperates amateurs: the only way to gain one's life - one's identity, oneself - is to lose it, to risk it." - from "Advice to a Young Wife from an Old Mistress."
That loss of self - that sacrifice - is what I was thinking about this Mother's Day: even a Utopian Mother's Day Fantasy - mine would probably include a Venti Soy Extra Hot White Chocolate Mocha delivered bedside, and then six hours or so to go a-spa-ing or a Nordstrom-ing, followed by a chi chi dinner with PVT - is a meaningless stamp on the hand if you're showing up at all for this gig.
Because we lay down our very lives for this motherhood bit, don't we? We don't do it to be thanked (although, sure, a bit of recognition would be nice here and there). No one does this for the quid pro quo, because there are not enough days for breakfasts in bed in one lifetime. No, I do this because this is the work I feel in my bones is the work I'm supposed to be doing. I don't know that I do it very well, either. I yell a lot. There's too much screen time. I may have even remembered to pack wine this weekend, but Gatorade for soccer players? Nope. Or a hat to protect my bald, albino baby's tender fair head from the midday sun? Oops! Nope. AARGH. But all I know is that this work feels more natural and right, to me, than going to an office to be a CPA, or working out, or volunteering for some worthy cause. Or even - gasp - SHOPPING.
So, oddly, it felt right this weekend to be in KANSAS - at a SOCCER TOURNAMENT - with my husband and children. It felt right to be frantically buying ibuprofen at 6 am at a foreign Walmart with Margaux on my hip, wearing high heels and a dress, looking like I was a Lady of the Evening returning from my night shift. (Why was I wearing high heels? Because I couldn't find my flip flops. Why did I even PACK high heels to go to a soccer tournament in Kansas? Well, you never know when you might need to channel your inner SJP, right?)
Instead of the little Nordstrom excursion I had planned, I was administering to a feverish, croupy Colette, and a grumpy, feverish Margaux, who had been diagnosed with an ear infection on the sidelines by an angelic Dr. Soccer Dad. Sylvie, who is recovering from ear infection, was still was hacking so hard that she threw up in my hands. And: all of that felt just right. Well, maybe not the barf in the hands, but you know.
No one does this for thanks, or a really excellent brunch with mimosas. No one even does this to be loved in return (gah. All those decisions I make where I am the MOST HATED PERSON on the planet. And that's even before I forgot to pack the Gatorade). While I fervently hope I will raise good, hard working, contributing members to society, there are no guarantees. Right now, my gifts are this: a husband who knew it was challenging for me to go that far with all the little babies, especially when they became sick, and who is with me every step of the way. And the gift of knowing that while I may be screwing up left and right, I'm trying, dangit. I hope my kids will at least grow up secure in the knowledge that I was there, and I cared, and I TRIED.
But you dorky children - I need to guilt you into actually SAYING Happy Mother's Day next year. And no, Rory, carrying a rose given to you by the soccer tournament people to give to your mom - looking completely forlorn and embarrassed to be carrying a FLOWER - does not count.
I love you all, you little monsters.
Six Years Strong…
2 hours ago