On the verge of becoming one myself (currently gestating a little one of my own) I feel the need to stop and think about mom and what motherhood is all about.
I called mom today to wish her ‘Happy Mother’s Day’, but rather tentatively. It seems arbitrary to have just one day to celebrate someone so essential to my life. And I suppose it’s because she’s trained me well that I was so tentative; growing up she always said how silly it was to celebrate just that day, because she knew we loved and cared for her all year long. But here’s the thing, we actually do need this day. We need this day to remind ourselves to step back from whatever busy work we’re doing and think about mom and hopefully not just go through the motions of buying a card and flowers.
That brings to mind one example of what motherhood is: selflessness.
I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to that. I consider myself to be rather selfish. Up until now I have not had to really think about anyone else but myself. Sure, we love and care for our friends and family, we send them cards and give them gifts on the days designated to celebrate them, we do thoughtful things for them when we are so inspired…but we don’t do it EVERY DAMN DAY. That’s what moms do. Every day they wake up and devote themselves to their family, tired, sore, sick, hungry, whatever, there is never a day off. That is dedication. That is selflessness.
That sounds like a lot of work!
So number two, motherhood is not for slackers! Moms work HARD. Me thinks there is not a day when mom gets to roll over in bed and say, “I’ll just sleep in today, catch up on some TV watching and order take out…I’ll do groceries another day….the baby can feed itself, right?” I fear this aspect so very much. What if I do not have the stamina?
I turned to Nat in bed the other night and I said, “We can always just return him/her if it doesn’t work out, right?”
And we grinned, paused and then laughed, while in our heads we were thinking “We can’t return the baby! We CAN’T return the baby!!!”
Number three, being fearful, unsure, but doing it anyway: courageous motherhood. There’s no school for it, not even a licensing process. Moms learn by doing; by hitting the ground running. I am so grateful that my mom was a fast learner and a bold innovator in child rearing. I imagine when she didn’t know something she used all the resources available to her to figure it out, or she made it up- and look how great we turned out!
As a mom-to-be the question that arises is: can I do this? Which is to say, will I screw up? Is it possible to fail? And if so, what does a pass look like? What is success in motherhood?
Mom is the example because I think she passed with flying colours. First off she birthed me and Vieve with all fingers and toes intact- success number one (amazing how this is an overriding concern in pregnancy even though it is essentially out of my hands)!
But seriously, I think it’s this: that I know that I am loved 100% of the time regardless of whether we’ve talked just yesterday or two weeks ago. That if I have a problem, like an illness or an emotional issue I can talk to mom about it, all of it with nothing held back; and she will dispense wisdom I may or may not have heard before but is always music to my ears. And even when the phone has been put back in its cradle (yes, a cradle- she does not have a cell), I know that mom is still thinking about ways she can help and advise and will most likely call me again to fill in the gaps in the wisdom she dispensed the first time round. She’s always in my corner, even if her opinion is contrary to mine.
I look forward to family gatherings and mom time. I do not fit into the typical story of ‘oh gosh, we’ve got to visit family, let’s figure out how to make our exit as soon as possible’; no, I want to stay for as long as I possibly can. When I do have to go it is with a lump in my throat the size of a watermelon. That’s success in motherhood. That is all mom.
I only hope that I can be something approaching that for my little one.
Mom, I’m gonna need your help.
To my selfless, non-slacking, courageous mother: I love you.