As Mother's Day, my daughter's 4th birthday, and the end of my first extremely trying year at my job approaches, I find myself overwhelmed by all that I have accomplished, and both encouraged and terrified at what I am capable of doing with my life. I feel tremendous power yet tremendous fear at what kind of woman I am becoming. The sense of pride in my life is immeasurable, that is certainly true, especially when I look at my daughter and the wonderful creature she is becoming or when I tell people that I live with my mom and tears come to my eyes because our relationship is one of a kind.
The fear, though....the fear just sits in the corner, watching this mounting pride. I can see it calculating its next move, looking for a foothold for destruction and pain. I never feel overwhelmed by it, but I am very aware of it. I try not to let the fear overcome the pride and the capabilities I possess. I try to look at my life, especially the past year, and see that what I have done is greater than any fear that ever existed. And yet....fear.
Then yesterday, I saw this picture that my mom had posted on her facebook page. It's a close-up of her with my grandmother, and as I gazed at both of them, beaming their megawatt smiles right into my soul, a lump formed in my throat, just as it is now as I write this. Their stunning faces, filled with wrinkles and stories, tremendous love and indescribable pain, mirror me and my story, my love, and my pain. I see in their eyes a level of courage and determination that I once thought I might never know, but realize I already possess. I notice in their smiles the kind of optimism that the world has tried to shut down, but I radiate with that 'delusional optimism.' I can feel their love for one another practically bursting out of the picture, and I feel that love rain down on me like that first powerful springtime soak that starts the process of new life.
The fear I sometimes ache with, from the overwhelming weight of life and womanhood, is staring me down from its hiding place in the corner, but as I look at this picture, I laugh in that direction. The women before me, who have so gracefully conquered this life and the same fear I face now, are strong pillars of love and light that have never ceased to guide me through the darkest storms. The women in this picture are strength embodied, pictures of grace so powerful they make lions seem tame. This is my history. These women and I are intertwined through our histories, our red-hot red-headed tempers, our love and our loss, and most importantly, our courage.
We have known divorce, death, physical suffering, job loss, loss of children, the pain of moving away from those you love, and loss of self. Yet, we have also known unity, love, beauty, growth, strength, new friendships, togetherness, and self-empowerment. The most important part is that we have known them together. We have forged the bonds of love and life hand-in-hand, knowing that we are never alone, even though sometimes distance may pull us away from one another.
I look into the eyes of my powerful yet incredibly sweet mother and I am thankful that she taught me how to love everyone, no matter their station, class, creed, or spirituality.
I look into the eyes of my sister and I see strength that no one else on earth could possibly possess. I see her fiery will to succeed, to prove everyone wrong, and I am thankful that she taught me how to be true to myself.
I look into the eyes of my beautiful grandmother, who still calls me her baby and is constantly reminding me of how proud she is that I am hers, and I see courage that goes rushing headfirst into battle every single day. Despite some of the physical difficulties she faces, her unfailing courage and her dedication to her family are second to none.
With the power, sweetness, strength, and courage of these women at my side, I take one last glance into the corner where fear is now cowering, and I smile. I smile because, this Mother's Day, this year, I am not afraid. I know where I come from. I am a mother from a long line of radiant, powerful mothers, and I am fully capable of guiding myself wherever I want to go.