Recently a “fan” of my Facebook page requested that I create a meditation about the presence of grace in motherhood. “Meghan!” she posted, “a meditation on grace, please!! Motherhood requires a girl to give herself a little grace.” I loved the enthusiasm in her voice and her suggestion. I messaged her back that I agreed with her. I knew instinctually that in Motherhood much grace is needed. I promised to get right to work on the meditation. And then I began to think about the word grace and consider what she meant exactly and what the word meant to me. I Googled grace and found definitions referencing elegance and refinement of movement. Then other entries mentioning favor, charm, elegance and mercy. Searching further I came to this more spirited description, “Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is a kindness from God we don’t deserve. There is nothing we have done, nor can ever do to earn this favor.” This last entry wasn’t in the dictionary but BINGO! It was this last explanation that caught my attention.
There have been so many experiences since becoming a mother where I have either received an “unmerited favor” or wish that I had received an “unmerited favor.” Just recently I was traveling with my 17 month old and 3 year old sons. Alone. We were taking two flights together and switching planes at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City. Alone. If there is ever a time for grace as a mother it is in moments when you are outnumbered by the little ones, in small spaces and with large groups of people. From the moment I was dropped off at the airport with a very large suitcase and a double stroller to push, until the moment when I saw the light in my husband’s eyes at our destination, I was showered with grace. Helping hands abounded. Many smiles and encouraging words flowed. My children cooperated beautifully and when they didn’t, there were no judgmental overtones from those around us. This was grace at work. But it wasn’t the grace offered to me by myself as my “fan” had suggested was possible. The positive energy and guiding hand that I felt on this recent journey came from outside of me. I came to the experience thinking positively but I in no way inherently deserved for things to go well. They did (because of grace) and I am grateful.
I am grateful for the grace I have experienced in so many moments with my children. I am grateful that my son Adrian came through not one, but two major abdominal surgeries as an infant, unscathed. I am grateful that I have had the presence to truly enjoy so many precious moments with my children and have been able to stay-at-home caring for them. I in no way deserve this more than any other mother who maybe needs to work outside the home or feels compelled to. The biggest grace in my life with my children though is the opening that has occurred in my mind and heart allowing me to live moments with them undistracted by worries, plans for the future, or dwellings on the past. I make their lunch and hear their pleas at my heels that I may hurry up. I rub their backs before bed, experiencing the velvety softness of their skin. I read books to them, noticing the illustrations in the same heightened way as my older son Jonah does — pointing out the various details and becoming one with the story. I’ve been graced to be able to put away my other thoughts while we experience so many things in life, noticing the vast difference in their experience when I do so.
Getting back to the grace that my “fan” so beautifully suggested that we may be able to offer ourselves as mothers, I believe I am coming to understand the power of this type of grace as well. Traveling again recently, on a separate occasion, there was a moment when I could have used a little grace from the outside world. I was in a stressful environment with my family, rushing in a way that I normally wouldn’t with my children (self-created hurry no less), and I lost my sense of Zen calm that I normally try to achieve. I expressed my frustration in a way that was unconscious and not present and it was hurtful to those around me. It turns out, the Universe, the people with whom I was interacting, were not able to offer me the grace I needed so much in that moment. Maybe doing so would not have fulfilled the grace they needed in those moments to fulfill their own journeys and do what they needed to do to take care of their sense of self. I do not blame them for how they reacted and in a sense I am grateful that the Universe did not swoop in and smooth things over for me. Because there was no magical fix-all in those moments, I have come to discover a new way of experiencing myself. I believe I am now offering myself, for the very first time, a grace that runs deeper than any other I have ever experienced as it lies directly between me and source energy. This feeling is an energy of love greater than any I have ever offered myself before — nearly comparable to what I feel for my children. I know for the first time that I deserve this profound grace I feel. I deserve to allow myself mistakes as a mother. I deserve to allow myself mistakes as a human being. We all do. Let us all offer ourselves a little grace as my “fan” suggested. Let us all offer each other a little extra grace when we can. The world will be a better place when we do.