The above picture was taken one month after my son's heart stopped beating. A perfect storm of post-surgical complications led to that time-stopping, world-silencing afternoon filled with chest compressions and nauseating fear. I ate nothing. I held his cold hand. I sang. There was no to-do list. My mind was laser-focused on that moment, watching his scar-covered chest rise and fall, wondering if he was afraid, knowing I could do nothing but hold his hand and sing.  This moment was not mine. I controlled nothing in it - the actors, the circumstances, the outcome.

My role was simplified to being the warmth, the force, the raw beauty of unconditional love. 

On that terrifying day, I received an unexpected gift: a distillation of my entire personal narrative into a visceral, pounding knowledge of the most important thing in life.  Of course it wasn't money. I had already learned that from the Beatles. What wasn't abundantly clear before was, when faced with "Go after your dreams." "You're drowning in motherhood." "It's not all about being a mother." It's not about striving for betterment. Not about living creatively. 

It is all about being a mother, but it isn't just about expending all of your energy reserves on being a perfect mother for your children. It's about learning to bring that tenderness with which a mother loves her innocent, struggling child and becoming comfortable with turning that tender, forgiving love onto yourself. 

 

Meg McElwee, M.Ed is a homeschooling mother of three. Her greatest pride is finding joy again after the devastating diagnosis of her second son's heart defect, and discovering that she was indeed strong enough to see her family through his three surgeries, cardiac arrest, and nearly half a year of hospitalization. Her son is thriving. Meg's life is now pleasantly mundane, and she can often be found repeating the phrase, "Remember to put away your markers so your little sister doesn't find one and draw all over the floor!"

 Self-care is a passion of Meg's. She is eager to share her multi-faceted approach to stress-reduction for mamas. Meg skillfully weaves together mindful living and contemplative practices with a biological understanding of hormonal health and the healing properties of whole foods.  She is currently training to become a Women's Wellness Educator through Well Grounded Life.

Prior to starting a family, Meg spent three years as the head teacher in a one-room Montessori schoolhouse in rural Mexico. She is the founder and owner of Sew Liberated, and has authored two sewing books, including the Montessori- and Waldorf-infused "Growing Up Sew Liberated." Meg lives in Durham, North Carolina.