By Kate Miller
To the expectant mother, we see you. Your journey is just beginning. The first heartbeats on a monitor screen turned your whole life upside down. Who knew you could love something so tiny so much? The months of morning sickness, the endless cravings, and the knowledge that the most intense pain of your life is on the horizon are of little consequence to you. You have given up coffee. You have given up riding horses. You have silently taken a step back when your husband tells you you’ve got to be more careful working cattle now. You have given up sushi. You have realized it’s a lot harder to bend over and blow out those back legs on the show calf now that you’re getting bigger. People are telling you to stop showing cattle and stop trying to work the head gate. You have given up seeing your ankles. Your husband has referred to you as “bred” in front of friends. But around the corner you know that life’s greatest adventure awaits. Soak in the silence as you hang those tiny clothes adorned with tractors, farm animals, and pink piggies in the nursery closet. Take full advantage of the opportunity to nap on the couch or have ice cream for breakfast. Marvel at the miracle of life the first time your unborn babe has the hiccups. You are blossoming in this season, stretchmarks and all.
To the mother with young children, we see you. You think you will never sleep again or have walls without sticky hand prints or car seats without French fries molding underneath them. You have cleaned off muddy boots and muddy blue jeans so many times you have lost count. You work around naptimes, and wonder sometimes if you’ll ever get one free hour of interrupted “you time” just to work in the barn, drive a tractor, or check new baby calves. You may believe your life is an endless shuffle between t-ball and strep throat and parent teacher conferences. And it is. You reluctantly stay home from shows, sales, and field days to make sure all the little ones get to all their activities. All of those things right now are true. But these years, these few precious years when they still need you, Momma soak them up. One day the laundry will be done and your house will be still and silent. These years of shrieking laughter on Christmas morning hoping Santa came early do not last. These days of stepping on Lego’s will go by in an instant. There will be a day when they pack their toys away in a box for the very last time, so for now just let them be little. Let yourself enjoy the chaos. One day you will look back and see that these years were when you truly felt most alive.
To the mother of teenagers, we see you. Where once your freckle faced child stood, now stands an almost adult. The toothless grin that used to smile at you in the morning is an eye-rolling sassy attitude masquerading as your child. You thought the boundary pushing as a toddler was challenging, this phase challenging the rules takes on a whole new meaning. But look at all they are learning, you can see glimpses of the child you remember morphing into the person they will become. Isn’t it magic to watch them become their own person? With talents and interests and life goals all their own. Remember the first time they went into the show ring by themselves? Now they are feeding, fitting, and showing nearly completely on their own. Pretty soon they’ll be able to drive their own selves to shows – then what? They spend hours on the tractor working in the field. They are as valuable to the farm as any member of the family. Remember that this phase of life is hard for them. No one likes middle school – it’s not for the weak or unprepared. And, sometimes being the “farm kid” brings a whole different set of challenges. They want to fit in at school, but they’d also really love to just at home working in the barn, or going to a show ever weekend instead of the junior high dance. They may not need you in the same way they did a few short years ago, but they still need you now. Show them what it means to be an adult and love them during these years when they are not often the most loveable.
To the mother whose babies are grown, we see you. You have found the light at the end of the tunnel. There are no more PTA meetings, no more county fairs, no more endless events and recitals and dinners and dishes. Your nest is empty. You may have secretly wished for this time, but now that it’s here, you feel lost. You wish you could yell out the back door “come in from the barn – dinner’s ready” but there’s no one there in the barn anymore. You find yourself now surrounded by the memories of a time when your now quiet home was bursting at the seams with energy only found in kids. When you walk by their childhood bedrooms, you are grateful for no more piles of dirty socks or unmade beds, but your eyes tear up a little when you look at all the banners and ribbons and pictures on the wall realizing that part of your life is over. You stare at the pictures on the wall from the county fair – ones that you fondly remember framing and hanging – only to realize that was years ago. Your children, now grown with lives of their own, are a legacy to your years of sacrifice on their behalf. They now are learning the full measure of all you gave to them. In this season they become your friend, and the dynamic between you is renewed and made new. Hopefully, eventually, they will reward you with the greatest of all treasures: grandchildren.
To the mothers helping their families let go, we see you. This phase of life is not for the faint of heart. You know that your time on earth is drawing to an end. Have you loved them enough? Have you taught them all you can? Will they remember you when you are gone? Will they keep up the farm? Are they going to be okay? Yes, momma. When you walked them to Kindergarten or moved them to college, those goodbyes were hard for you. But not for them. This goodbye where you are now on to greater adventures, this goodbye will be the one that breaks their hearts. Help them in this season find peace, guide them to an understanding of the life yet to come, and in this last act of love let them help you find your way home.
To the families missing their Momma today, we see you. We see you struggle to walk passed the greeting cards in the grocery store without a lump gathering in your throat. Maybe this is the first year your mom is celebrating from Heaven instead of your kitchen table. Maybe it seems like a lifetime ago since you last held her hand. Love her from a distance today. Remember her. Remember her love of the land. Her love of the farm and ranch. And most importantly, her love of her family. Fill your home with laughter and let it be a song of remembrance to the woman who brought you life. Look for her today in the wild spring flowers she always loved, a cardinal who flys in and perches on the windowsill, or in the laughter of your own children. Celebrate her life today, and let her memory bring you comfort.
To the women who find that Mother’s Day is the hardest day of all, we see you. We see you be joyful for your friends who fill their homes with children, while your nursery remains empty. We know the longing and isolation that comes in those months and years of quiet desperation. You would give anything to teach your own child your love of agriculture. To take your own child to a show. To teach your own child how to ride and saddle a horse. We see those of you who celebrate the lives of children you have lost before you got to hold them in your arms or the children who you didn’t get to hold long enough. But we see you in the ways you help countless other mothers and their children. We see how you help your family. We see that while you may be longing for children of your own, you are making a difference in the lives of others, and that in itself is a truly remarkable gift. In this day you may not find more joy than sorrow, and you are entitled to that grief. It is okay for your heart to be sad today, even amongst other celebrations of joy. We see you, and we love you, and thank you for what you do.
To all the women in our life, thank you for your commitment to raising strong families and building strong communities. Today we celebrate all mothers, in all phases and we hope you take the time today to celebrate all the women in your life.