Motherhood is unique in that it reveals the worst (and best) aspects of one's personality while also inducing a heightened sense of self-awareness. Like most mothers I know, I suddenly find myself analyzing the long-term effects of my every action, or non-action, on my child's personality. It's a guaranteed formula for self-abasing guilt. Even a standard 'angel mother' sermon can be excruciating.
These 'angel mother' depictions often seem so still to me, a single snapshot in an ocean of memory. I'm the eldest child, born when my mother was in her early twenties. Because I was born while my mother was so young, I remember her in her twenties and her thirties and forties, and, in a few years I can say her fifties. My memories of my mother are expansive and fluid. I have memories of a woman who tried her best but failed often, and other memories of a spiritual giant who lived up to her divine potential. So many of her weakest and greatest moments live inside my mind's eye.
By my own memory and my mother's personal account, who my mom now only vaguely resembles who she was when I was born. In some ways I feel as though we have grown up together. My mom started life in poverty with a family who believed her future was limited because she wasn't very smart. Today, she is a nurse and a businesswoman with a bachelor's degree and several successful business ventures. Those two sentences can only show the smallest part of her personal growth but the whole story is that she has become a great woman and a true angel. If I had the time and words to paint her whole story I think you would see it too.
At my younger sister's patriarchal blessing, the patriarch turned to my mom and told her that he felt God wanted her to know that He was pleased with her. My mother told me that she knew it because of how far she had come in spirit, marriage, and motherhood. She said that all she had ever done was try and God had helped with the rest.
And so when I think of motherhood and mother's day, I don't feel any lasting mom-guilt because the greatest lesson my mother ever taught me is written in the journey of her own life. She tried, and sometimes failed, but for God that was enough. It's a lesson that I live by and a legacy I hope to inherit.