It’s no secret that I love Adele. I just can’t help it. We bought her album, 25, when it first came out on vinyl, and it’s been the soundtrack to countless dance parties, girl nights, and at-home-date-nights in our house. After her acceptance speech from the Grammy's last night, I love her even more. For those of you who missed it, here's what she said.
Thank you. Hi, guys. Hi, everyone. Hi, hi, hi. As you can see it took an army to make me strong and willing again enough to do it. But thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Five years ago, when I was last here, I also was pregnant, and I didn’t know. And I was awarded that shortly after — I found out shortly after, which was the biggest blessing of my life. And in my pregnancy and through becoming a mother I lost a lot of myself. And I’ve struggled, and I still do struggle being a mom. It’s really hard. But tonight winning this kind of feels full-circle, and like a bit of me has come back to myself.
But I can’t possibly accept this award. And I’m very humbled and I’m very grateful and gracious. But my artist of my life is Beyoncé. And this album to me, the “Lemonade” album, is just so monumental. Beyoncé, it’s so monumental. And so well thought out, and so beautiful and soul-baring and we all got to see another side to you that you don’t always let us see. And we appreciate that. And all us artists here adore you. You are our light.
And the way that you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my black friends feel, is empowering. And you make them stand up for themselves. And I love you. I always have and I always will. Grammys, I appreciate it. The academy, I love you. My manager, my husband and my son. You’re the only reason I do it. Thank you so much. Thank you very much to everybody.
Though I love that she wanted to share the award with Beyoncé, that’s not what I’m writing about today. I love that Adele got up on that stage, and she told the truth about motherhood:
It’s the biggest blessing of our lives. It’s also really hard. We struggle, and we continue to struggle.
Motherhood is the giving of life to another, and in the giving there is a losing. There is a truth that we’re giving something away, something we’ll never get back: ourselves.
When we bring forth this life from our bodies, we are scandalously unprepared for what it will now require of us. Giving life happens in the womb, and on the day of their birth, but it continues every day of our lives thereafter. We give of ourselves for this little person, moment to moment, hour by hour, and day by day for the rest of our lives.
And we can’t get around it: in order to gain this new life, we do have to lose ourselves. I know well-meaning people tell us not to, because they love us. But they don’t understand that losing is actually just part of the process.
When I became a mom, I had to give up a lot of things. ALL the things, really. I could no longer decide for myself when I would sleep, eat, or attend to my personal hygiene. All that was now dictated by this squirmy little pink bundle. One side of that story is that I was enamored with her: she captivated me for hours merely by making facial expressions. That’s what it’s like to be a mother.
But the other side of that story is struggle. Becoming a mother was hard. It was harder, in fact, than I’d like to admit to give up my sleep, any sense of my own autonomy, and my very life for hers. We’re all smitten with our kids, but motherhood comes at a high cost and it’s vitally important that we talk about that, too. We have to grieve the things we lose, including our very selves, in order to be healthy. It’s crucial that we admit the hardship, because if we don’t we’ll become isolated in our pain. It’s ok to say that motherhood hurts a little. Ok, it hurts a lot. But the pain doesn’t erase the beauty.
First, there comes the bleary-eyed newborn phase, when you’re just stumbling through your days like a zombie, followed by the many, ever-changing baby phases. You never know when you’re moving from one stage to the next, and your entire life is now guessing game. Are they going through a growth spurt? Are they teething? Are they in pain? Are they sick? Or are they just refusing to sleep to prepare me for torture and interrogation in a prison camp someday?
Before you have kids, you assume all moms just intuitively know the answers to all those questions about their own babies. That’s a total falsehood. Nobody knows what the heck is going on. We’re all winging it. It can help to read books or talk to doctors or friends, but sometimes it's just a crap shoot. What’s important to understand is that you won’t screw them up. They’re resilient little creatures. Also, none of those phases lasts forever (although mom life does this weird thing to you where it feels like it DEFINITELY will last forever. Motherhood is basically the movie Groundhog Day.)
And then they get older. They learn to voice their own opinions, and they can choose to defy you and hit you and say “I hate you! You're a BAD mom!” That will hurt. A lot. But then they can also run up and hug you out of the blue, and say “I love you.” That will make your heart soar like it never had before.
There is breathtaking beauty, and there is great pain. Because that’s what happens when you open yourself up to love people.
Here’s what it's like to love people:
Sometimes when you give, people will give back to you. They’ll give you encouragement, gratitude, or love. And then sometimes when you give, people will hurt you. They will ignore you, withhold from you, criticize you, and tell you how you’re doing it wrong. They might even betray you.
Here’s the really, really hard thing about that:
Jesus asks us to give anyway. Even when no one sees our sacrifice, even when those for whom we’re sacrificing don’t appreciate it or know it, even when the very people for whom were laying our life down criticize us and hurt us…We give anyway. Because Jesus did the same for us.
Jesus hung on the cross bleeding and suffocating for those who had just spat on him and ridiculed him. In our bleakest, worst, and most dramatic moments, that’s what motherhood feels like.
As time goes on, we gain pieces of ourselves, but it’s not the old us. No, the woman I was before motherhood is long gone, and I don’t think I’ll ever be her again. @@Motherhood makes us someone completely new. We don't go back to the way we were, but instead gain our new selves, piece by piece, over the course of the rest of our lives.@@ Sometimes I resent that. I want to be a perfectly complete puzzle right now. But that’s just not how life works, and I’m learning to find the beauty in that.
Life is a journey, and motherhood is no different. @@Becoming a mother is a sunset, and there will be a sunrise. But it will be a new day, not the same one.@@ Let’s give ourselves heaps of grace along the way. And let’s make sure we’ve got fellow moms with whom we can be honest. Share the beauty, and share the pain. That’s how we’re all gonna make it.