Today my child should be walking across the stage at her graduation ceremony to receive her Masters in Public Affairs diploma. I should be there, applauding and celebrating her achievements. But, you know…. the pandemic and all. It would have been a beautiful way to spend Mothers’ Day.
Although I would love to be with Jessica on this day, to have recognized her achievements with ceremony, what makes this Mothers’ Day truly happy (and my heart full on ordinary days as well), is having a child who lives a life of joy and purpose.
This is all a mother desires—to know that her child is happy, at peace, learning, growing, working hard, loving well, and always becoming.
It’s been a few years since Jess and I have spent an official Mothers’ Day together. In 2016, after graduating from college, Jessica moved to Washington, DC. to work as a full-time research assistant. And in 2018, Jessica moved to Madison, Wisconsin, earning a fellowship to study public policy at the LaFollette School of Public Affairs.
For the past four years, she has done some serious adulting—working, learning on-the-job about social policy for low-income families, then transitioning to taking classes again, serving on a non-profit board, making decisions about insurance and retirement savings, getting her first apartment on her own, and challenging herself to grow personally and professionally. She’s had fun visiting new sites and cities, enjoying solitude, making new friends, and finding love. And a true “big girl” thing—Jess has hosted both her dad and me as guests in her home in DC and in Madison.
She is becoming… and it is beautiful to behold.
“Blessing Jessica, as my grown-up child, is a journey of becoming comfortable with the uncertainty and the many possibilities for her future, letting go slowly, surely, courageously. The blessing card is as much a reminder for me as it is for Jessica.” (from A Mother’s Blessing)
“When Jessica was just a toddler, I created a bedtime prayer that I blessed her with each night…Some nights, in a hurry, it was shortened to “God bless Jessica’s mind, body and spirit. Amen.” Still, it remains my prayer for Jessica as she continues to become, giving birth to herself over and over again, becoming more herself.
God bless Jessica’s mind so that she makes good decisions and choices.
God bless Jessica’s body so that she grows strong and healthy and safe.
God bless Jessica’s spirit so that she knows the love of God and others. Amen.”
(from Jessica Becoming)
There isn’t anything that could make my Mothers’ Day any happier than knowing that my prayers have been, and are being, answered. Jessica has made good decisions and choices, she is strong and healthy, she does know the love of God and others. She is becoming.
“I journey with Jessica in her becoming. As she grows, I grow; I re-center, reset, and adjust to our new way of relating. I am learning and re-creating the role of mother as Jessica is becoming. We are both becoming.”
Tomorrow, Jessica begins a new job with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services as a Children’s Services Program and Policy Analyst in the Medicaid Services division. Inspired by her nephew, Michael, and her Uncle Steve, she has a passion for helping families and children with disabilities receive the services and support they need.
Being Jessica’s mother is the greatest gift and honor of a lifetime. I will never forget the moment she was born. “You got your girl,” my husband said. I had all but forgotten that the baby would have a gender while laboring. This excerpt from The Red Tent resonates about that moment:
“There should be a song for women to sing at this moment, or a prayer to recite. But perhaps there is none because there are no words strong enough to name that moment. Like every mother since the first mother, I was overcome and bereft, elated and ravaged. I had crossed over from girlhood. I beheld myself as an infant in my mother’s arms, and caught a glimpse of my own death. I wept without knowing whether I rejoiced or mourned.” ~Anita Diamant, The Red Tent
That sacred moment of birth continues into all the moments of becoming. This is what makes every day a happy Mother’s Day.
© Jodi Blazek Gehr