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Remind Your Mother, 'You Are Enough'

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I imagine few, if any, of the Mother's Day cards to be given today include words like these from Alice Walker:

"Yes, Mother. I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me."

My mother, Joan, died not quite three years ago. She wasn't perfect. She did not hide her flaws. Yet, I didn't know her obvious humanness was her gift to me until I sat with her body after she passed.

As I sat with her beautiful womanly body, a body that bore three daughters, I stroked her fine white hair, caressed her tender wrinkled face, and cradled her belly, the belly that was my first home. I felt awe for her obvious humanness and the strength she found as a single mother. The lines in her face bore witness to these parts of her life that were hard.

Like most daughters, I complained about the ways my mother was flawed. And I grew up fighting my own flaws, especially as a mother, especially when my life got very hard. I've really struggled with how I lost my way when my husband died. I wasn't there for my children in the way I "should have been" if I had been a good mother. I've held myself up to some standard that was always unattainable. I'm flawed. My daughters saw my flaws. They experienced my flaws. They can tell you in a minute all about my flaws.

What if I realized my flaws are my humanness? What if I simply accepted that I am flawed? Human? Real?

What if I saw my body now, while I am alive, like I saw my mother's body when she was lying in the light that surrounded her moments after her death?

Flawed is a whole world away from sinful. I know sin is not real. I've seen too many babies born to believe one comes into the world as a sinner. Those tiny pink toes. Those cherub arms and legs. Those eyes that look at you from the other side of the mystery could never be marked with something such as sin, the kind of sin pill we're repeatedly told to swallow.

Flawed is where the light shines through, or as Leonard Cohen sings:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.

And that's how the light gets out, how our light shines into the world, through our flaws, through our humanness.

And when we teach girls they must grow up to be perfect mothers, it's a set-up for the never-ending striving for perfection, the never-can-be-reached destination that is exhausting and robs women of simply being themselves, and the opportunity to model to their children what it means to be content with oneself.

Oh, to feel myself relax into the shape of who I naturally am, flaws and all, so I might hold my daughters with the softness of self-love and acceptance.

Oh, to see my daughters relax into the shape of who they naturally are, flaws and all, so they might cradle their babies with the same softness of self-love and acceptance.

What if we gave our mothers a soft place to land, a place where they were showered with the simple, loving words, "You are enough"?

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