Someone congratulated me today on being a legit mother now.
That was kind, but not all together accurate.
These children have lived with us for a year, and two, and three already.
Before that, other children came and went.
Before that, I felt babies in my womb, and saw them slip away.
Before that, I was a visiting teacher, and a nursery teacher, and a primary teacher, and serving in young women’s.
Before that, I was an aunt.
Before that, I was a babysitter.
Before that, I was a daughter.
I used to have my own mother.
I botched that up pretty well, and it took great care for both of us to repair and heal. I had things to repent of, and she had things to learn, and I have since spent all my time learning how much she already knew.
Now I am the mother, a motherless mother, and as fiercely independent as she was.
She’s still there, you know, helping me and calling me out and arguing with me, even though you can’t see her.
And she’s still always right.
And it makes me crazy.
I broke, somehow, when I moved her in and tried to care for her and my father died and then I got married and miscarriages and then she was killed and then foster care happened, and then cancer.
My body kept going through the motions, but my spirit dreamed it was trapped inside a Dalek. I tried to do or say good and helpful things, but only robot monster sounds came out of me. Darkness was darker than I ever knew before, and I didn’t know how to fix it.
Naturally, even if to avoid crisis, I did all the things I would tell my patients to do: stop working eighteen jobs, pace yourself, rest, eat well, go on walks, listen to music, and pray.
The good thing about being a mother to nine billion children is that you get better at it than when you had no idea what was happening, which gives you hope for being on the right track even when you know you don’t have it figured out yet.
I have some wild kids, and they are crazy enough to love me at my worst, even enduring the chaos of sick babies and juggled work schedules.
I have some stubborn kids, a fair match for me, but it means they love me as fiercely as I love them.
I have some sensitive kids, which makes mistakes sting more, but is also what invites forgiveness and healing and keeps us all learning together.
When we talk about being “good” or even striving toward righteousness, we know it isn’t us that is “good”.
It was the Savior, by whose atonement we are able to approach God, and it is the Spirit, by which we are transformed into something we couldn’t be on our own, and it is the priesthood, by which we have the capacity (power) to keep trying.
It is our Heavenly Parents that give us any good, and Their plan by which we experience happiness beyond the circumstances in which we live and deeper than the confines of mortality.
I was a daughter, in the beginning, with Them.
And I knew Them.
And They loved me, even me.
This is the pattern Nathan and I have, one of Heavenly Parents, in every decision we make with the children and every interaction we have, the model we have as an example even on the days we have no idea what we are doing.
That’s why there is a softening, and how I am not really a Dalek, and how we are never truly trapped by mortality even when it seems like it.
I’m not good at that yet, because there is so much still to feel if I am to be so soft, but I am still trying and even often can taste it these days, even more days than not.
It’s sweet, like clover in the Spring or bread baking or ice cream on a hot day.
It’s been a really long winter, and terribly cold and lonely.
But there are smiles here, and little bodies to hug, and Nathan who has held my hand the whole time.
That makes it a happy day, indeed, even when some of the mortal minutes of today sting more than others.
There is Light there, in such a happy-ish day.