In 2007, when I was pregnant with my oldest, I knew, that I knew, that I knew he was a girl. At least I thought I knew, and then of course the ultrasound told me otherwise. Four years later, in my second pregnancy, an ultrasound confirmed this time we would have a girl. My sweet mom reminded me of something I had written during the first pregnancy when I was convinced, without reason, I’d be starting this journey as a “Girl Mom”. To refresh my memory, she pulled out her printed copy and faxed it to me at work!
Let’s now journey together back to the Summer of 2007, before I knew the first babe to steal my heart would be a boy. It was a wild time. A time of alternating between confidence and nerves as I embarked on a role I knew little about. My heart was brazenly dolled up in shades of Blush and Bashful. Today, as I dust off that piece of my heart, I hope to honor and affirm all you Steel Magnolias who are striking balance and looking after everyone in your circle. Your role may include caring for aging parents, siblings, a spouse or partner, your own children, kids brought into the fold by friends or other family members, those dear sister-friends, not to mention yourself. You may be dealing with loss but faithfully planting one foot in front of the other so that later you are able to breathe new life into another aching heart. Hatching plans. Nurturing relationships. Tending your sisters’ needs. Fostering growth. It takes a village to raise a child and her momma, you know, and every role is vital! Most likely, your circle is a Venn diagram with a lot of overlap. A mom who feels encouraged and lifted up by her tribe is an unstoppable force. In that spirit, in whichever circle you find yourself, undoubtedly performing an endless number of life-giving tasks, I raise a Mother’s Day mimosa to you, my kindred!
Here ‘goes. From 2007:
“I just know this baby is a girl. Somehow this “knowing” has led to a deep longing for a daughter; a tough but compassionate soul. She’ll be like honeysuckle vines, with sweet-beauty strangling every barrier fence in sight. I can shape her into equal parts Playground Warrior and Sunday Picnic. My baby will rock an eyelet sundress with pink ribbon ties, skinned knees and grass stains.
This whirlwind of thought and emotion has me honing in on the importance women in my family hold for one another. It is a strong and deep-rooted legacy; an automatic support system. These ladies hold their own. One retired Kindergarten teacher popped out the fiercest finger wag ever seen and cussed out horse thieves who then shamefully loaded the animals onto her horse trailer and stared at the ground as she drove away. Looking further back, on the opposite side of the family, a Native American ancestor traveled by foot at night and hid during the day with her infant after being separated from her tribe. She safely navigated, babe in arms, from the Carolinas to Alabama before being taken in by another tribe. The ladies I come from have fought legal and spiritual battles for their children. They’ve stared down death and righted a lot of wrongs. Sometimes taking on more than they should, but it always shakes out alright and makes for extraordinary stories. They’ve been those steel magnolias with a power and beauty that demands attention. These champions are capable on their own, but rest in knowing they have each other. They are both the root system and the rich soil that continues to grow me. This legacy must continue. The hard part is if we really do have a girl first, knowing I will find it near impossible to want a boy for my husband the next time around. I will want her to have a sister. How can a girl survive without a sister?”
I remember the fierce, take-on- the-world excitement that washed over me as I read about our family heroines with the new knowledge I had a baby girl in my belly. But I also laughed at myself. “How can a girl survive without a sister?” Don’t be silly, young Rachel. They just do it. They learn from their legacy and pick up a new tribe of sisters along the way. They nurture and depend upon them. They learn from and educate one another. They love and grow into brave world-changers.
This Mother’s Day, our son is 10 and our daughter is 6. What I did not consider in that first pregnancy, though it is beyond obvious, is that both a son or daughter would benefit greatly from this deep-rooted, unstoppable, selfless love. That kind of love does not discriminate, nor does it disappoint.
If you have an extra minute, I’d love to hear the stories of the women who have shaped you!