the sisterhood of mothers

Sometimes my husband leaves for long business trips.  Sometimes I get lonely.  Sometimes the days get very long and I’m not the mother, the friend, the person I want to be.  Sometimes it’s very hard.

But sometimes, when he’s gone, it’s not hard at all.

In August my husband was sent on a 16 day business trip to India.  It was quite possibly the hardest 2 weeks of my life.  Because I have no shame, I even grieved publicly about it here.

It the midst of it all, however, I did spend one beautiful day with my sister Ruth.  We spent the day canning tomatoes, making a year’s supply of salsa and pizza sauce.  I lugged pails of tomatoes and peppers and onions in from her garden, cleaned out jalapenos and cried while chopping a mountain of onions.  Ruth sweated over a steaming pot and rinsed pails of tomatoes.  Through all of the work we chased our kids around her farm, house, yard, trampoline, playhouse, tree house.  We dealt with chickens, kittens, a dog and a bunny, 2 meals, nap time, potty training.

It was hectic, it was real work but it was so good.  The type of good that pulls you out of yourself and forces you to look up and realize that life is good, work is good and you have much to be grateful for.

Above all else on that day I was grateful for my sister.

As we diced veggies and fed kids and processed jars we talked about the ordinary things.  Our husband’s jobs, sassy little girls, grocery shopping, teething, school, NFP, cooking, new cars, marriage, kids, God, fears, hopes, regrets, unyielding faith.

What we talked about was simple, often interrupted, and what any sister would talk to a sister about it.  But, those words that passed between us, like all of the words that have passed between us since I became a mother, sustain me.

My sister Ruth has taught me to be a mother–but even more than that, on that day I was so grateful to share motherhood with her.  In those small moments as we rinse dishes or nurse babies, in the moments between big moments, when we have a chance to laugh about all of the craziness, I have learned to live this life and love it.  When the kids are screaming, pots boiling over and the baby’s dirty, I look over at her and she smiles.  Yup, this is our life, she seems to say.  This is what we both do, every day.  It’s rough, but we are willing to keep going because we know it’s worth it.

We are mothers, and sisters in the journey.

Although my younger sister Maria lives on the other side of the country, we too have shared these little moments when we can connect as mothers and wives.  We talk about things we can’t talk about with anyone else, things that aren’t dirty.  Things that are important and private and holy.

This past April I found myself in a car with Maria for 2 hours.  Babies in the back needed attention sporadically, but for the most part we were free to talk.  And here’s the thing about Maria, she doesn’t mess around with small talk.  In fact, I don’t think she’s capable of small talk.  When you are with her you talk about God and Sex and Truth.  And I love that.

When you are with Maria you talk about the truth of motherhood.  The stuff that actually matters.  It is exhilarating to dig to the depths of marriage and motherhood with a sisters and grab unto what is beneath it all–grab onto what we share as wives and mothers, what what gives all of this meaning.  To have the privilege of wrestling with God.

I know it sounds epic.  But that’s because it is.

We are mothers, both of us.  And this is the truth we share.

with the kids
Ruth, Maria and me with our kids (only 1 is missing)

I love my sisters.  They are easily my best friends.  But this sisterhood, if I dare to call it that, doesn’t end there.  There are so many women in my life that have shared in motherhood with me–and I feel a sisterhood with each of them.

I am blessed to belong to a tremendous group of Catholic Women, all young mothers like me.  We have been meeting since I first started dating my husband.  In fact, most of us became mothers as part of this group.  There isn’t anything I would hesitate to tell these women.  I trust them and depend on them.

I have a wonderful, faith-filled mother myself who I have relied on heavily over these last 4 years of motherhood.  After I have a baby I don’t want help from anyone expect my mom.  And she knows that.  She takes care of me when Bill is traveling for work and for that I am so grateful.  She is the one that taught Ruth and I had to can.  She’s amazing.

There are so many more–women I journeyed through pregnancy with, met at the park, grew up with, met through marriage…  In fact, I love it when someone I know is expecting their first baby.  I am bursting with excitement because I just can’t wait for them to be part of this sisterhood.

The sisterhood of mothers.

I kind of like how that sounds.  Makes us sound strong, which of course we are.

Sure, we might complain about morning sickness or engorgement or toddler tantrums or potty training but we are mothers.  We are strong.  We are capable and even after the worst day we still love our kids.

So carry on sister.  Carry on.  And if the days get rough, which they will, find another mom, talk about it, laugh about it, cry about it and remember that you are not doing this alone.  

If you don’t have a strong group of mothers in your life supporting you through the rough and lonely days, please try and find one.  Talk to that other mom at the park, call up an old friend, join the mom’s group at your church, email me!  We all need to know that we aren’t doing this alone.  We all need a sister.

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