There’s a small metal easel at the end of our bar filled with River’s artwork, all crinkled from paint, with streamers hanging off of it, perfectly imperfect. Just behind it sits two containers of Advil and Tylenol for infants. River’s not an infant anymore, so they’re in that spot until I think of who I can give them to. Just in front of River’s artwork, there’s a photo that River’s “sister by choice” and neighbor, Ivy, took at his 2nd birthday party. It’s small, in a neon green frame and has “to: River from: Ivy” written in fine black sharpie on the bottom of the frame. And, last but not least is the Cucumber-Mint Burt’s Bees chapstick standing tall beside River’s 3×3 framed birthday portrait. He lubes those plump lips up like a pro, and, in the process, works it around his entire face and Peaches pout before sticking his finger directly in the middle of it. I pause before making this admission, but in a day when my lips are parched, I pick it up and smear it on my own fully knowing where it’s been.
Two years ago, the thought of such a “mess” at the end of my bar would have sent me into a tailspin. But, not today. I’m becoming more comfortable in an environment that’s not staged for a home tour. There’s a message in the mess. That bar could be free and clear of everything I just described, but my home would be free and clear of the greatest joy giver of all. And, that’s a trade I’d never want to make.
After giving birth and catching my breath enough to realize I needed new underwear (you know, the pull almost up to your ears, postpartum kind), I headed to Nordstrom where the sales person pointed me to these lovely knickers and assured me they would fit. She was my size or bigger and said they were “one size fits all,” so I picked out a pair in each color and headed home to launder them. The next day, I tried a pair on and they didn’t fit. So, I reverted back to my old faithfuls. A week later, like the Little Engine That Could, I tried again. This time it was a success- perfect fit and, more importantly, the confirmation I needed to know that they were not “one size fits all EXCEPT for Jill Lide Parish.” That evening, as I shed my clothes to get into the shower, I realized I’d been wearing my underwear backwards all day, and they fit me perfectly. I digress.
My body isn’t what it was before giving birth to my big baby boy. But, then again, I never had a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model’s body. These days, there’s more of it. Some parts are higher and others lower. Nothing is in it’s rightful place. One year ago, I would have shamed the h-e-double-hockey sticks out of myself. But, not today. I’m becoming grateful for this machine of a body that’s kept me alive for 43 years and carried and birthed the most precious gift of my lifetime. Beauty isn’t about perfection. It’s more about progression. Growth and evolution are beautiful beyond compare.
Not even six months ago, I’d say I was addicted to people. Or, more specifically, pleasing people. Long after River came into this world, I was still on the people pleasing hamster wheel, and I was tired. So. Very. Tired. I had so few boundaries with people. I don’t mean that I was allowing people to abuse me. That wasn’t the case. But, if you needed a place to stay for seven days, of course you could stay with me. Or, if you needed to unload every negative thought you’ve ever had in life, I’d sit on the phone with you for five hours listening intently. Oh, and, last but not least, if you told me you were going to arrive at my home for a visit or a restaurant for dinner and were three hours late, I’d smile and say, “No problem,” meanwhile wasting away because I was waiting to eat or drink or whatever my brain told me was appropriate to do or not do in my people pleasing interaction. Relentless in my pursuit of pleasing people, I hit a wall. Hard. Y’all, I hit the wall HARD. And, when that happened, I had to take a true inventory of myself and why I was doing what I was doing. In my wholehearted attempt to please people, I was falling short. Ill in that attempt and completely exhausted, I surrendered.
I’m becoming more in tune with my own needs. Not that I don’t care about the needs of others. I’m just clearer on what I need to function and be a decent wife and mother. Currently, little to nothing comes before that. The people in life that really count also really understand.
There have been a gazillion epiphanies in this motherhood journey. And, truth be told, some felt like moments and others felt like seasons. They weren’t all easily learned or accepted. But, they were necessary. I’m not who I used to be, and I’m not certain of where I’m going. All I can say is this, I’m becoming.
I’m constant in prayer and knee deep in God’s word because in becoming who He’s called me to be, I know I must do His will. Fully embracing the gift of life He’s given me and honoring it by caring for myself and those entrusted to my care is my full-time spiritual appointment. While I may fall short in the eyes of others, I don’t want to fall short in the eyes of God.
Two days ago, I was dropping River off at his classroom with his rock star teachers, when Miss Bridget says, “Wait, Mom. River wants to give you something.” And, out he walked with a laminated card with his picture and poem followed by a plant in a beautiful pot with his colorful finger prints all over it. With a Kermit sized frog in my throat, I said to myself, “Do not cry. You will look like the amateur of a mom that you really are.”
Moms, I’m still very much an amateur. You raise the bar for mommas like me. Cheers to becoming. Because of your growth and evolution, the very seeds you’ve planted will follow. Keep nurturing them, and watch what they become. Happy Mother’s Day! You are God’s gift to this world.
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