The heart of motherhood: I found it in San Francisco

Words have eluded me the last few days. They didn’t seem enough. I couldn’t quite capture the importance of it.

All I know is that on Thursday May 10th at 7pm, I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

And it felt damn good.

I was lucky enough to take part in something far bigger than my little story.

It was the collective heart of motherhood. And for a brief moment in time, I had the privilege of being witness to its beauty. In all its imperfect, messy, hilarious, and heartbreaking glory.

These are the stories, the heart of motherhood…

Head-over-heels in love with your rambunctious, daring, and defiant toddler.

Mothering and carrying on after a devastating miscarriage. Because to a toddler? It’s still Christmas.

Your tot’s broken bone that happened on “your” watch, forcing you to eat your own words and move past the inevitable guilt.

Struggling with crippling depression and knowing that taking your daily “happy pill” is more than a matter of choice, it’s your duty as mom to two young girls.

Not wanting to become your parents, but becoming them in spite of yourself when faced with explaining the why, what, and how of lesbian grandmothers to your daughter.

The heartbreak of failing at breastfeeding and overcoming that guilt and shame.

Saying good-bye to your teenage son as he boards that plane. For the first time. You, fighting back tears, quietly wondering what if I never see him again?

Then, there’s the hope, the need that one day you’d find that long anticipated letter meant just for you. Words from your own mother who passed away when you were just a child yourself.

Lamenting the day you told your college bound daughter to call whenever you need me. Then realize, that texting may just be the solution you need to get off that roller coaster ride.

Looking back through the lens of your own trials of motherhood and discovering how amazing, strong, and inspirational your mother truly is. Not the completely embarrassing one your teenage self had her pegged for.

Living in the actual mother ‘hood’ and being raised by all your “Mamas” has taught you many things. The most important one? Not to let anyone change who you are.

You might think everyone else does it all. But in reality, we’re all doing it. Living our lives. It’s messy, chaotic, and beautiful all at once.

These are the stories of motherhood that were laid bare that night.

Told with strength, courage, and a raw sense of humor.

The vulnerability was palpable.

Thanks to these two women, Kim Thompson-Steel and Kirsten Patel, this collective heart of  motherhood was on full display that night in San Francisco.

And my god, it was the absolute perfect antidote to all this TIME magazine cover non-sense.

Because the heart of motherhood? Has no time for sensationalism or judging. It’s too busy laughing, crying, and sometimes cursing during this incredible journey that is motherhood.

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19 Responses to The heart of motherhood: I found it in San Francisco
  1. Sherri
    May 14, 2012 | 3:49 pm

    Bingo. You said it better than I can even try! Words have eluded me for days now…what an incredible experience, and it still has me reeling days later.

    And to share that stage with you was such an honor, Melissa!

    • Melissa
      May 14, 2012 | 5:32 pm

      I don’t know Sherri…I was dying to write about it, but I still fell short. So hard to really capture it and put it all into words. I just couldn’t not write about it any longer. It was killing me!

      Sherri, the honor was truly mine. Friday afternoon at my daughter’s preschool Mother’s Day Tea, one of her preschool teachers was constantly on the verge of tears. She was sending her 18 year old off on an airplane that evening. I thought of you. I had to share your post with her. XO

  2. Dr. Ann
    May 14, 2012 | 3:50 pm

    Sounds like it was a great night Melissa! Motherhood truly is a journey unlike any other, and it means so much to each mom I know (myself very included) to be able to walk the path with other moms.
    Blessings,
    Ann

    • Melissa
      May 14, 2012 | 5:33 pm

      Thank you Ann. It really was wonderful to know that we are really all in this together. Nothing like it.

  3. angela
    May 14, 2012 | 4:17 pm

    What an amazing thing to be a part of, and I’m so glad it happened for you (and the cast of San Fran and other cities) right at this time when that cover was put out there to stir up a mess of finger pointing and judgement.

    • Melissa
      May 17, 2012 | 2:29 pm

      It really was amazing Angela. Thank you so much!

  4. Joy
    May 14, 2012 | 6:04 pm

    That’s it in a nutshell – the heart of motherhood.
    Being honest, being vulnerable, taking a risk.

    • Melissa
      May 17, 2012 | 2:31 pm

      And oh my Joy…you did that exactly. Each and every one of those stories…was honest, vulnerable, and an incredible emotional risk. I’m so in love with you all if you can’t tell :-)

  5. Katherine
    May 14, 2012 | 6:36 pm

    Beautiful. Motherhood is the hardest, most emotional, most trying, most beautiful path there is. It’s nice to know that we are not traveling alone.

    • Melissa
      May 17, 2012 | 2:32 pm

      Exactly Katherine. And by sharing our stories out loud whether in written or spoken word…we know we’re not alone. In fact, we’re more connected than ever :-) I hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day. So nice to hear from you. How’s residency coming along?

  6. Kirsten
    May 15, 2012 | 10:19 pm

    You were brilliant. Your heart and your soul came through and I feel SO lucky to have been a part of it.

    • Melissa
      May 17, 2012 | 2:34 pm

      Thank you so much Kirsten. I can’t tell you how much it means to me. That you and Kim gave me this opportunity. That it just felt so right. That I was able to get those words out without becoming a complete puddle of tears. I’m forever grateful. XO

  7. mosey (kim)
    May 15, 2012 | 10:39 pm

    I was deeply honored to have you be a part of this experience, telling that emotional, personal, vulnerable story. I have to keep pinching myself in gratitude for your willingness to step out so bravely, and for having such a person – a new friend – in my life.

    • Melissa
      May 17, 2012 | 2:38 pm

      Oh Kim, thank you so much. It was such a strange feeling of calm and knowing deep down that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing in that moment in time. I had to ask my husband if I actually read the whole thing because to be honest I don’t remember! I was just doing it. And yet this is something I will never forget and I’m so grateful you saw something in me and my story. I’m so incredibly grateful for this experience and I too feel blessed to have a new beautiful friend such as you in my life :-)

  8. [...] Melissa [...]

  9. Rhea
    May 17, 2012 | 12:53 pm

    Perfectly stated! It was such an honor to share the stage with you. I also enjoyed sitting with you at Greens!

    • Melissa
      May 17, 2012 | 2:40 pm

      Oh Rhea! I am the honored one. I LOVED your story and I loved sharing food, conversation, and drinks with you at Greens. What a true gem of a person you are. Just beautiful. Inside and out. I know I’m getting all mushy here, but I feel forever connected to each and every one of you :-)

  10. [...] Nichole and Melissa, who were already such good friends of mine before we took the stage together…and now are [...]

  11. Hotly Spiced
    May 18, 2012 | 8:36 pm

    Having three children of my own of varying ages I could relate to so much in this post.

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