I’m on an airplane headed back home to Austin, back to my waiting husband and kids. I’ve been in Michigan at my grandmother, Harriet Decker’s memorial service. She lived a long life, mother to five children. As soon as I step through my front door I will be needed again. And it won’t be a pastel, casual need. It will big need, loud like tie-dye. So I’m savoring the silence and a cup of coffee in the clouds. I’m listening for Grammy’s voice as I study some photographs of her.
If I listen close I can hear her encouraging me as a mother.
You can be patient, Jessie. You can do this mothering. It is a calling. Even if you don’t feel it every day, it’s there. The calling is in your arms because she scraped a knee. It’s a boy who needs correction with love. Rest on the couch with a hand on your forehead if you need to. Utter praises. See what scripture you can call to mind. Try it.
You can mother them with a rhythm, Jessie. You fear you can’t, but you can. See a metronome in your mind. Follow a beat. Hum a rousing tune. Don’t retreat to worry. Don’t let yourself get grumpy. Clip some flowers; they’ll make you feel good. Draft a poem when you hold the baby on your hips. Read a recipe while they play. Don’t demand every margin of time be yours. Stop grabbing at freedom like you’re starving. You aren’t starving; you are simply a mother. Find small moments in the day. Savor them like fine desserts. The discipline of choosing joy is real. I know. I had five children. Lean into the hard days not away from them.
The plane is touching down now. The wheels bump along in that way they do. I take one more long look at her pictures.
“And remember what my mother (your great-grandmother) used to say, ‘The best things in life are something to look forward to, a memory to cherish, and someone who needs you.'”