Behind a Mother’s Eyes

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The following is a guest post I wrote for the incredibly talented, honest, and unfiltered Clementine Ford-Wilcox. I highly recommend reading and following her blog, and I was honored to be asked to contribute a piece that speaks to the core of what motherhood means to me.

Behind a mother’s eyes waits a world of wonder, worry, astonishment, confusion, hope, heartbreak, and love. From the instant she welcomes her baby into the world until the day she waves goodbye, her lenses have recorded and stored volumes of memories. Each second of life weighted more pivotal than the next, she tiptoes over the shattered pieces of disappointment, champions the triumphs, and stands as a shield to deflect harm.

Often thankless and regularly ridiculed, the job of a mother is the world’s most vital undertaking. Like a sculptor chiseling a figure from stone, a beautiful, breathing work of art stands as a symbol of the effort applied to the process. She does this without the expectation of praise or applause, but because the task of nurturing a human being is not a burden or an albatross. It is her purpose.

No one thinks about the nights spent hovering over calculators wondering where to find the bottom line, or the furrowed brows carved from releasing a child into the harsh realities of an environment specifically designed to pressure, threaten, and challenge. Listening to the minutiae of a school day’s proceedings, driving to early morning soccer games, enduring cacophonic choral recitals, and patching broken hearts after fumbling attempts at navigating puppy love all serve as the ingredients for a cake made by a baker still deciphering the recipe. But this endeavor is exponentially more love than labor.

Stumbles and missteps are expected, but being a mother means learning more from the losses than the victories, and imparting those lessons to that innocent face watching your actions with studied attention. Mimicry is inevitable when you are someone else’s entire world. The challenge is crafting a life that is worthy of emulation.

It is precisely this ability to direct focus on what is truly important that will invariably separate a mother from the masses. Perhaps there are men who walk a similar line. I’m not a father, and I never had one. But I know my jet-propulsion fuel has come from one very capable and concentrated source, and my rocket would have plummeted into the sea long ago had it not been for the strength, foresight, and intuition that live behind a mother’s eyes.

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A Ghost at the Gate

gate1“We should not fret for what is past, nor should we be anxious about the future; men of discernment deal only with the present moment.”-Chanakya

I look at this quote and I’m shocked by how thoroughly misaligned my life is with this concept. It’s a popular notion, and philosophers and spiritual advisers have preached the benefits of “living in the now” for almost as long as we’ve been questioning the purpose of existence.

Fear is a funny thing. It’s hardwired into our survival brain, enabling us to avoid potentially life-threatening situations. But left unchecked, it can significantly hinder our growth, fulfillment, and sense of adventure. Factor in a dash of trauma, and we’re reduced to rats spinning circles in the corner of a cheeseless maze.

My car was hit two weeks ago by another vacuous LA burnout. There weren’t any injuries, but I was subjected to the thrilling roller coaster ride of insurance company phone calls, repair shop appointments, and rental car confirmations. There was also a hovering tension that the other driver would devise a nice piece of fiction to wiggle his way out of responsibility, and at the conclusion of the proceedings…there was the fear.

It’s typical to be jittery behind the wheel after a smash, but I’ve realized that this gun-shy, knee-jerk reaction never sits too deeply beneath the surface, regardless of my station, environment, or circumstances. I walk through the world with a wary eye, untrusting and cautious, nervous and neurotic. I want controllable variables in an uncontrollable game, and the desire to maintain that power puts me in uncomfortable positions. This recent situation falls under a much larger umbrella, and lands in line with a trend that appears to be growing only more potent with each passing year.

As an introvert, I gain energy from my own fuel cells, as opposed to needing someone else’s power pack. I’m self-reliant and feel most at peace when I know that nothing will disrupt my carefully-calculated balance. I’m more productive and relaxed when I’m not watching for curveballs in the batter’s box.

But how far will I go to maintain these systems?

Will fear and trauma always hold the pen, charting my course from point A to point B, or will I regain the sense of freedom I found as a younger man, chasing a future of hope and potential? Is it possible to uncover a layer of my psyche that’s willing to bend and morph to accommodate surprises and the hidden gems waiting in the wings?

These are questions not easily answered, and there’s no definitive proof that one lifestyle is necessarily more optimum than another. But fear is a sturdy beast, and it will take some strategy to murder a monster that retains residency in the mind.