Things get much better when we internalize 2 truths-
1. Nobody owes you anything (no, not even a thank you)
2. It is actually you who owes the world and its denizens. You take up space (physical and emotional). And you better have something good to show for it.
It is startling to read these points so close to Mother’s Day, and to realize how well they capture the gift of being a mother. Clearly, my three sons were born knowing they did not owe me anything. They learned to walk holding my hand, and I was a cheerleader in their moves towards greater independence. And the way they saw it, I was meant to be that kind of permanent and uncomplaining fixture in their lives.
Kids give you lots of opportunities to think about what you care about, what feeds your soul and what doesn’t. As a mother you let go of all but the most important pieces of your old life, and the most important pieces find a new Petri dish to flourish within. The lessons I learned from my sons helped me to get less concerned about what the world owed me and more focused on what I owed the world—and more importantly, myself. For me, poetry, writing, journaling, social justice, and meaningful work all rose to the surface. I outsourced house cleaning from the beginning of our childbearing years, recognizing that one woman cleaning house for four boys/men was a recipe for resentment.
So, though I part ways with Seth Godin a bit and believe that, like my sons, I do not owe any more than my kids do, I want to thank my amazing sons Devin, Mason, and Harte for unapologetically teaching me that my life and joy are my own responsibility. On the way to that lesson, we have laughed deeply, shared our struggles and accomplishments, and reflected on best options in each of our lives. We have also played together and watched more Sports Center than I EVER would have chosen. Being your mother has been an honor and a privilege and nothing like I thought it would be. As my own mother suggested about my siblings and me, each of you has been an exciting ride to places I would never have had a chance to go to without you. Thank you for the ways you have transformed who I am and how I live my life through travelling this road together.