(This is an oldie but goodie. I think I wrote it in 2007. I am proud to say that Trevor has grown into a wonderful young man--smart, ethical, logical and far more grounded than I was as a teen).
The best thing that ever happened to me was becoming a mother.
Trevor wasn't planned. I like to tell him that he was the best surprise I've ever received. As unexpected as it was, I loved him from the moment I got over the shock of seeing that blue line on the pregnancy test. Though areas of my life were unsure, I embraced the idea of motherhood. Of course, I loved him more after he was born and I could hold him in my arms, feel his sweet soft skin next to mine, suckle him at my breast. And I love him more now than I did then, although I wouldn't have believed it possible. It is a joy to watch him unfold, to grow into the unique and amazing individual that he is.
Before I became pregnant, I was a college student, drifting through boyfriends and bars, untethered and melodramatic, unsure of my place in life. Pregnancy grounded me in a way I never thought possible--and with joy, excitement and happiness. Finally I felt that I was doing something important, something monumental and sacred. As unsure as I was about my ability to mother, I readily accepted the challenge, gave up the bars and the boys, and settled into a sort of domestic bliss with Trevor's father. The years when I was pregnant and breastfeeding Trevor were some of the happiest and most contented of my life.
Of course, motherhood is difficult. It is impossible to protect my son from pain and heartbreak, both caused by others and by himself. He is a willful and independent child, and sometimes the choices he makes prove frustrating and painful to both of us. I can remember other moments of heartbreak: when he pulled a window on his finger when he was 7 months old and needed stitches--he looked so tiny in that hospital bed, and nothing I did could comfort him--; when he was three and his father and I had to tell him we were separating--he went to his room and refused to talk to either of us for several hours--; when his father was gone for the year after that, dealing with health problems, and Trevor missed him terribly; when our first pet hamster died; when he was hospitalized with meningitis; when he tried in vain to save the bugs he loves from other children who were killing them, and he couldn't understand why they would do so.
There is only so much I can do, as a mother, for Trevor. As Kahlil Gibran says, we parents are just the bows from which our children fly. I can only hope that the love I give to him, the thoughts that I share with him, and the support that I provide him are enough for him to learn and grow into whomever he is meant to be. And I think back to my own childhood--or rather my adolescence--a tumultous time during which my mother was at a loss. I realize now the frustration and heartbreak she must have felt as I struggled with anger, rebellion, and depression; as I chose to fail my classes and disobey my parents; to experiment with things I wasn't ready for; to engage in risky behaviors. I can feel the anger--sometimes probably rage--and helplessness; the guilt and confusion; the fear for my welfare and safety. I can only hope that, once Trevor is finding his own footing as he becomes a man, I can remain as constant and supportive as my mother was for me. As angry as she became with me, I never once doubted the strength of her love for me. It was unconditional and ever-present. It is because of the force of that love that I was able to grow into the woman I am today, and able to provide the same for my own child. My mother is the greatest woman that I know, and if I am able to be to my son what she was to me, then all the pain, the helplessness, the frustration and doubt will be worthwhile.
Happy Mother's Day, all.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
For as long as she can remember, Lisa Litberg has loved to write. Over the years she has amassed quite a collection of short stories and poetry. Free is her first novel. Ms. Litberg has been a high school teacher for nearly twenty years and helps empower her urban students with the power of the written word. Currently she is working on a short story compilation geared toward urban youth, as well as her second novel, which will answer her readers' questions about what happened to Free.