Today's post might seem like outrageous sacrilege but I mean it most respectfully. I don't know if anyone else tires of the commercials on television about 'Mother's Day'. They present the world as if the moment of birth transfroms a woman into a saint. That from that moment forth she lives her entire life in a state of unending love, compassion and understanding. That every time she moves soft music plays, every time she speaks flowers blossom, every time her heart beats angels take flight. They play these commercials unceasingly for several weeks building up to the big day. They play them with a seriousness that forbids mocking.
So, how is it to be explained the 'Jacob, get back here, do you want me to smack you?' and the 'Heather stop that right now or Mommy's going to take you home right now.' or even the, 'I've had enough young man, do you hear me ENOUGH!!' That you hear constantly when out shopping. I spent the day out yesterday and never once caught the scent of flowers blooming while a mother's voice was booming. Oh, don't get me wrong, I don't think any of these women were bad mothers, not at all. I think they are real mothers, living in the real world, discovering (and coping with) the fact that they've given birth to demon spawn.
My Grandfather was a big man, a farmer, who kind of frightened everyone. I don't remember him ever laughing, his anger was legendary and his approval seldom won. He was impossible to get to know. Yet one summer when we were at the farm he called me over to walk with him to the barn. The other kids were there but it was me he called. I've not always been this fat, but I've always been more than merely plump. I ran after him in an ungainly fashion. He shook his head in disapproval but he waited for me.
We walked together in silence, as we got to the barn he said, 'I want to show you something.' He slid the barn door open and we stepped onto the concrete. The barn always smelled of fresh straw and well cared for animals. In one of the unused stall, up in the corner lay one of the farm hounds. She was suckling her own puppies and two small kittens. I watched transfixed. I glanced up and saw a look of real gentleness and outright approval on my Grandfather's face.
The dog looked up at us, at first warily and then defiantly. Then realizing we were there just to watch not to interfere, she went back to nuzzling her brood of puppies and kittens. She lovingly washed them and warmly snuggled them. We stayed for a brief while. I was enjoying the sight but also enjoying this moment with my Grandfather. I never understood, and still don't, why I was chosen to stand with him that day. His hand, he had a huge hand, reached aross me and rested on my shoulder. I felt completely embraced.
On our way back to the barn he said in the Danish accent he never lost, 'Loving when you don't have to, that's a miracle.' I ran back to the other kids who were still in shock that Grandpa had wanted the company of one of us and in disbelief that he had chosen me. They all wanted to know what that was about, I told them that I didn't know. I wasn't being coy, I didn't know.
Over the course of my lifetime I have seen many people love when they didn't have to, love when they weren't expected to, love when it wasn't advisable. Some of them were mothers, some of them were not. Some of them were women, some of them were not. Some of them were adult, some of them were not. But all of them were miraculous.
I choose, today, to celebrate miraculous love. I have experienced it often in my life. I have recieved it. I hope I have given it. It is in the moment of miraculous love that we understand the true nature of our worth.
So here's to the dog in the barn! Here's to loving dangerously. Here's to the moments of miraculous mothering.