I was listening to Ingrid Betancourt the other day on NPR. She's the woman who, while campaigning for the Columbian presidency, was taken captive by the FARC and held for six years. Fascinating, without a doubt, the whole story, but one aspect of her tale particularly struck me. When she was kidnapped, her children were fourteen and sixteen. It's horrible in any case to be separated from your loved ones for any period, let alone six years, but the thought of these children that still needed their mother, who weren't done growing up, waiting and worrying for so long really got me. Ingrid, herself, said that those six years, those years of torture, of isolation, of sitting chained, quite literally, to a tree, made some things very clear. She had been fighting the good political fight for Columbia for years but she was more than ready to let that go. The only thing she was determined to return to, the only thing, she realized, that made her happy, was being a mother. I don't know what the hell that says for feminism but I feel the same way.
Later that day, I was in the van with the kids, headed for Ben's dads' house to carve pumpkins. It was a rare moment in the car that they weren't screaming at each other or swinging fists so I took advantage of the seat-belts holding them in place, my little captive audience, and told them about Ingrid Betancourt and what she had learned. And I told them that the one thing in my life that makes me happiest, by far, is being their mother. I may complain, I may get grumpy, I may even yell but always, underneath it all, I'm so grateful to be able to be home with them, to nurture them, to watch them grow. Them, particularly, those three disparate, complicated creatures. That I'm lucky to be their mom.
As I finished my spiel, Mihiretu pointed out the window. "Mama," he yelled, "Bus!" Lana said, "Yeah, but Mom, will we get treats at Papa and Nana's?"
But Mae, bless my Mae, looked into my eyes in the rear-view mirror and said, "I feel so lucky, too, Mom, to be your daughter."
And so I live to fight another day.