I’m a mother like you. I’m not overly religious, but I do believe in the basic principles of right and wrong, good and bad, and yes, there’s a part of me that is ingrained with the idea of Heaven and Hell. If there is a Heaven, and I am to enter its pearly gates, I will walk on through as both a sinner and a saint.
And I think that just might be how most mothers feel.
I’m someone who tried really hard to get the mom thing right. I raised my children with love in my heart. I tried to be patient and giving. And I was, most of the time. I did a good job, but I must admit that during my darker, more dysfunctional moments, I made plenty of mistakes. And I was disappointed in my children too. Sometimes they let me down.
But, I also celebrated their accomplishments. I beamed with pride when they were polite, or showed kindness, or made the right choices. I felt satisfied as a mother when they proved to be the good and decent people I hoped they would become. And sometimes I cried for my children. When they were disappointed, or heart-broken, I was just as sad. When they were happy, everything was right with the world.
I felt it all. And I know that most of the mothers in heaven will be a lot like me. Mothers who were undoubtedly good, bad, ugly, beautiful, selfish, selfless, imperfect, and perfect people here on Earth. Heaven is a place for every single one of us. Amid our piles of mothering mistakes, we had magical mothering moments too. And we tried our best to figure it all out.
In Heaven, I will say hello (and possibly share a yawn) with all the moms who barely slept a wink for 20 years straight. Together, we worried about every little thing.
And I’ll greet the ones who, like me, sometimes punched their pillows at night instead of their children.
I’ll salute the moms who spent at least 25,000 hours of their lives waiting. For the phone call. In line. At the doctor’s office. In traffic. At school. For the bathroom. For the double-header to end. For their kid to be finished with a driver’s test. Mothers who hoped for the best, but prepared for the worst.
I’ll send a quick wink to the moms who sometimes gave their kids chips and salsa for dinner. Or cereal. Or a plate of peanut-butter crackers. The moms with kids like mine who, over the years, somehow survived a half-assed meal or two.
I’ll high five the moms who refused to make excuses for their children. The moms who didn’t bring missed homework assignments, or forgotten backpacks to school when fervent calls were made home. I’ll also be sure fist bump the ones that did, in a show of solidarity, because, hey, I rescued my children from failure once in a while too. It’s what we mothers do.
I’ll give a small shoulder squeeze to the mothers who had bedroom doors slammed in their faces because they refused to be their child’s best friend. Girlfriend, don’t I know that.
And those moms who rushed a child to the emergency room? They might throw a nod in my direction. A knowing nod that says I remember. I remember how scared I was that day. I remember exactly how you felt and how it never really went away.
And to the sweet mothers who remained calm and collected despite the terrible public tantrums of their two year-olds, I’ll be sure to give you a gentle pat on the back. You did a great job under pressure, even when you wanted to blow your stack.
I’ll embrace the hot mess moms, like me, who forgot to sign permission slips, or showed up late to pick their kids up at school. The ones who never knew what was going on until the 11th hour. The ones who forgot to send lunch money. The ones who had to improvise, juggle schedules, and apologize. I’ll tip my cap to you, as I walk on through. That motherhood shit was never easy, amiright?
To the moms who spent an inordinate amount of time sewing detailed Halloween costumes and the ones who decorated a paper bag with a magic marker an hour before trick or treating – I want to say ladies, it’s all good. I mean it. I did both of these things and found out, just like you did, that it didn’t make one bit of difference in the amount of fun my kids had that night.
And to all the moms who felt a bit unfulfilled by motherhood on its own, I will wave to you in a tender sign of recognition. A wave in your direction that says we tried to love every second of it, but couldn’t. We will form a circle of support and friendship in Heaven, free of the guilt we felt on Earth over these feelings.
I will flash a sideways smile at the moms who baked the cupcakes with homemade frosting only to watch at least 6 children lick the tops off and throw the rest away, or smash them into a napkin, or take one bite and exclaim, “these are gross!” in front of everyone at the party.
To the ashamed moms, the embarrassed moms, and the angry moms – to the ones who spanked and yelled sometimes. To the ones who still feel guilty about it. To the hovering moms with good intentions. Heaven is a place where we can let that shit go. Let’s let it go together.
I’ll kiss the cheeks of the moms who pretended to love the prom dress, or the wedding dress. To the moms who simply said, “it looks great honey” with nothing but a thin grin and a raised eyebrow.
I’ll hug the mothers who held their tongues while their children dyed their hair blue, or black, or pink. Or covered themselves with tattoos. Or had the weird boyfriend who drove a motorcycle without a helmet and dropped out of school. Or had the clingy girlfriend who didn’t speak or look you in the eye. A small hug from me will convey the message that our silent endurance was indeed our greatest strength.
And I will kneel before the mothers who loved and supported their children with special needs. Their beautiful children that no one understood. The ones who needed a mother’s love more than anything else in life.
And I will grip the hands of the mothers who devastatingly lost a child to illness or tragedy or war. I will bow down before them because there are no words for that kind of pain. None.
I’ll link my arms with the mothers who wore PJ pants and slippers to the grocery store. The ones who were repeatedly mocked by their children over technology challenges, hairstyles, and outfit choices.
I know they will be there. In Heaven, we will smile and enjoy a giant glass of Malbec together in our billowing white robes. We will bask in sunshine and rainbows and we will forget about what those ingrates said about our mom jeans.
Heaven is a place for all mothers. The earnest, the loving, and the imperfect. The selfish, the unfulfilled, and the industrious. Mothers who learned as they grew, and grew as they learned. Mothers who endured hardships and heart-break, and who rejoiced in those elusive, magical mothering moments of clear and present purpose. Heaven is a place those of us who tried our best, at least most of the time.
To all the mothers in heaven, I don’t have to meet you. I already know you.