Article first appeared in the November 2017 Issue of Good Grit Magazine. I was asked to write about the topic: Warrior Moms. Visit the good people at Good Grit, they are doing amazing things.
It’s happened more than once.
Reaching for my phone, fumbling for the camera app just at that perfect moment-at the party, or the school play, or with friends playing in the yard. The noise rising, the moment just impossible to recreate and the alert blinks: Cannot take photo. There is not enough available storage.
In the rush, I start removing apps, swiping right, deleting the shaking icons or the duplicate video. Frantically deciding in an instant what is important and what is not. What should be removed and what should remain. The sounds start to fade to the next scene, about to be lost forever and I promise myself it will never happen again.
I don’t feel like a warrior mom. Even if the definition eludes me as I scan the room imagining the other warrior mom’s lives. The ones that are doing it all and the ones that are not. The ones that have survived the disasters and the decisions, the worrying and the wondering. And how they are all probably still managing to pack healthy lunches and complete school forms on time.
The call comes like any other, a phone number not recognized so ignored, not to be distracted while out shopping with my children. But then a second call and a third, and finally my doctor, a number and voice I recognize telling me that the office that conducted my routine mammogram needs to speak to me immediately. And in an instant, the world blurs and there is not enough available storage to process it all. Taking a deep breath and hitting the x’s of my life icons--frantically deciding what is important and what is not. What should be removed and what should remain.
In that moment of grief and worry, reaching out a hand before I fall, others clutch it in theirs. Family and friends come with open arms and casseroles. Listening, waiting, offering wisdom and clarity and filling in the gaps. Food is left at the door, notes and emails fill my box and church ladies I do not know knit a blanket as encouragement arrives from strangers.
An acquaintance calls, “Can I bring over food?”
“Oh thank you, we are overflowing, but thank you so much for offering,” I say. Alone for the first time since the surgery, my family resuming normalcy, I shuffle back to the couch. About to hang up, I hesitate. “On second thought, do you have a few minutes to come over to help me wash my hair? I’m so unsteady on my feet and…”
“I’ll be right over.”
Confirming the address, I hang up embarrassed, wondering what I have just done. My house is a mess, I look like a wreck.
Within minutes, another friend arrives with sleeves rolled up and ready to help. Standing over the white sink, in pajamas and chest bandages, juggling drains from where my breasts once were, hot tears mix with the cool water as I listen to these two women laugh and share and reach out a hand. Filling in the gaps, this is what warrior moms do.
Generations before us have done the same, gathering the good and passing it forward. As my grandmother edged closer to the end of her life she grew quieter, her memories fading faster than the words to describe them would arrive. Glassy eyes stared past me searching for the moment forgotten as location and details tangled in the fog with memories of love, happiness and comfort lingering behind. A life of wisdom guiding her failing memory to what could be let go and what needed to remain. My mother, her experienced hands worn by years of sewing and gardening, tends her flowers or pieces together a quilt from stashes and scraps of fabric, always illustrating how to curate and discard, keep or share. Always guiding the goodness that is allowed to stay for the next season.
The party sounds fade to the next room, the moment gone. And then the friend I don’t know touches me on the shoulder, waves her phone and says, “I got it, don’t worry about it. I’ll send it to you.” And together, regular moms become warriors realizing that we need each other, in the small and in the big moments. Our definitions of warrior moms as unique as we are, helping each other become the mom our children need. Joining forces to become the warrior moms we’ve always wanted to be.