Instead of receiving gifts from my adult children this Mother’s Day, I’m writing them a personal thank-you for letting me be their mother. As if they had a choice. 

You might argue they did, but let’s skip the metaphysical karma stuff and head straight to the heart of the matter, which is this: for all the credit the Carpenter and I get for raising these two beautiful, kind, smart, compassionate and hilarious people, what I really want to say is, thank you for doing such an incredible job raising me. 

See, they don’t tell you that motherhood isn’t just about raising children. Sure, it was my role to deliver them into the world (a story neither of them likes to hear because of my propensity for graphic detail). Yes, I made a commitment to provide for them, nurture them, guide and protect them. Check. Check. Check and check. Yet, as much as I shaped their future, my children redefined mine.

In all the ways that matter, we grew up together. The things I thought I knew about life before their arrival, the lessons I thought I’d learned, the hurts I thought I’d healed, and the achievements I’d achieved were no longer benchmarks for success. 

Nothing could have prepared me for the role of motherhood. Being responsible for another human life while also managing my own was nothing short of a fast-track apprenticeship turned CEO. Seriously, if there was a job description for motherhood, I don’t know if I’d pass the job interview.

From the minute we met in person, my children taught me to trust the power of my intuition. If I felt something was wrong, I was right. Gut instinct. I could sense things in my children that I couldn’t even sense in myself. It’s a sixth sense thing. That lesson helped me develop another skill: to speak up. When it came to advocating for my children, I found my voice without hesitation or doubt. Advocating for a child with autism is exhausting. It just is, especially if it’s a girl. Don’t get me started. All mothers of exceptional children relate.

Watching my daughter navigate school and social situations was, without question, some of the hardest moments of my motherhood journey, yet this is where she taught me the power of perseverance and self confidence. My daughter’s challenges would eventually become her wins. Kids that don’t fit in the box come into our lives to challenge our notions of what’s “normal.” They are game changers. They are teachers. They are healers. Especially for their moms.

Raising a son for whom school was easy but his teen years were nothing short of harrowing, taught me that you have to find a way to hold on and let go of your children at the same time. I had to trust his character was stronger than the will to fit in, and that eventually, he’d find his true north. Seeing him come into his own sense of self is empowering. His humour is dark, his compassion for others is light, his loyalty is sincere and his integrity guides him just fine. He has taught me about resilience, the kind that gets you through the hardest days. Remarkable.

My children raised me to be a better version of myself. They taught me the sacred art of letting go and holding on simultaneously. 

Unconditional love makes sense now. Grateful.

WriteOut of Her Mind