I Will Rise Up: An Ode to Moms Everywhere

Darkness had swallowed up the last of the day as I sat in the Chick-Fil-A parking lot with my three kids, monitoring a possible anaphylactic reaction. As the lone adult, I agonized over the decision whether or not to Epi-pen my 6 year old, contemplating a drive to the hospital or a call to 911; alternatively, I thought, maybe he's ok and I should just drive home and monitor him for the night. Of course, my husband, Tom, was out of the country and at dinner with work colleagues, so I couldn't reach him, despite my 11 attempts to do so.

I stared at the red patches on my son's neck, listening to his sudden cough, and noting his complaints of a stomach ache - all three, mirroring the symptoms of his last anaphylactic reaction. Yet, it seemed different this time. The coughing could be explained by his running around. The redness on his neck wasn't exactly hives, it was simply red. His cough appeared to be settling down. Unsure of my next move, I started driving home, EpiPen in hand, hurling questions at my son for the duration of the drive.

My husband called as we were pulling into the driveway. I explained the situation in detail. After asking me follow-up questions, he uttered a statement that landed on me with the force of a thousand pounds of concrete, "I trust you to make the decision." NOOOOOOO. No. No. No. I didn't want to be the one to make the decision. To be the sole person making a judgment call regarding my child's life or death {for context, we almost lost him once, which you can read about here} is decidedly the most lonely and weighty place in the world for me. I really didn't know what to do and I didn't want to be the one to make the decision. But, I was the Mom, the adult in charge, and I had to make the call. I had to rise up and face the situation head on. And then I had to live with whatever decision I made.

Once home, his cough completely subsided and according to him, his stomach didn't hurt anymore. Listening to my gut, I decided not to administer the EpiPen, choosing to monitor him through the night. He and the baby spent the night in my room. He slept like a champ. Me, I didn't sleep a wink. 

My counseling practice is called Rise and Shine Counseling, not because it's a cute little saying, but because of the powerful image it represents. Much like the sun at dawn, people everywhere are rising up in the darkness and learning how to shine. As moms, we do this every day, literally and figuratively. We rise up, weary and sleep-deprived, from our beds, often at the beckoning cry of our little humans rubbing their hungry tummies. We rise up day after day to meet the needs of our families. We rise up in small, mundane ways, which we hope in turn, send big, life-long messages of love. And we rise up in the darkest of situations to, as Bruce Cockburn writes, "kick at the darkness until it bleeds light." 

 Photo Credit: Karis Jordan

Photo Credit: Karis Jordan

When compiling a playlist for my daughter's recent birth, I chose mostly calm, instrumental music, but I also added a handful of songs that spoke to me in the deepest of ways. By far the most powerful to me was, Andra Day's Rise Up {listen to it here}. To this day, I cannot hear it without sobbing big, heavy tears and chills covering my body, as I imagine women everywhere rising up.

I think about exhausted moms, sacrificially driving their kids from one activity to another, ensuring they have clean uniforms to wear and nourishing food to eat. As they stand on the sidelines in the heat of the day, cheering on their children, these moms silently mourn and celebrate at the very same time, considering the growing independence of these humans who have been in their care for so long. They're plagued by wonder - did they make the right decisions for their kids, did they spend enough time with them, did they push them enough, did they push them too hard, and on and on.

You’re broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can’t find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains

I think about my mom friends who because of unexpected obstacles facing their kids, are now attempting to navigate the world of the NICU, autism, hearing loss, heart defects, sensory processing disorder, and hip dysplasia, among others. They rise up each and every day, tirelessly hunting down resources and advocating for their beloved children. There is nothing they wouldn't do for their kids and yet, there are days when they wish this wasn't their mountain to climb.

I think about the moms I know who just received word of a devastating diagnosis, those battling depression, and those busting their entrepreneurial tails trying to bring in extra cash for their families. You are all warriors, warriors who keep rising.

And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
And I’ll rise up
High like the waves
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousands times again
For you

I think about my dear friend who held her husband as he died in her arms. In spite of the unfathomable ache, she went on to rise up over and over again. She led her two young girls forward and learned how to embrace the both/and by embracing the grief as they remembered him and the hope as they created a new life for themselves without him. 

When the silence isn’t quiet
And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet
And move mountains
We’ll take it to its feet
And move mountains

I think of moms who suddenly find themselves parenting solo, for one reason or another. Laying alone and utterly exhausted, in their bedroom, they question where they now fit in the social structure of their world and they wonder how they will muster the strength to face another day.

 I think about Syrian moms, displaced by war, fighting with every ounce of their being to find shelter and food for their frightened babies, unsure of where to go or what to do next.

 Photo Credit: Yunny Wolff

Photo Credit: Yunny Wolff

I think of moms of adopted children, who want so desperately for their kids to know in every corner of their beings how absolutely loved they are. These moms, going to great lengths to build bridges with birth parents or seek support for their kids still suffering the impact of trauma.

I think of moms who find the darkness still banging at their doors as they grieve the loss of a child(ren) and fight through the ache that never seems to fully go away. And I think of the women who are moms in their hearts, who yearn to be moms in their bodies, but whose dreams go unfulfilled month after month.

I think of the moms who lay in bed at night, smothered in a blanket of self-criticism, as they reflect on the ways they let their frustration and irritability seep out into the day.

And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up

It's only when we face the darkness, that we can rise up into the light and fight. It's the very acknowledgment of the darkness - of our own pain, weakness, uncertainty, and fear - that allows us to rise up and forge a path forward with a love so fierce. As Paul Coelho writes, "The strongest love is love that can demonstrate our frailty." Even with doubt and ache as our companions, we keep going. We keep waking to receive the grace that is life and breath itself. We keep leaning into the hope that we have. We keep rising, with the strength of the one who rose from the deepest darkness. 

Moms are rising up everywhere, everyday, in every kind of darkness. And on this Mother's Day, with tears in my eyes and admiration in my heart, I celebrate you. Well done, Mama. Keep rising.