A Few Words About Being A Mom

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I don’t want to say I have a one track mind, but I definitely do.

Always known as someone who mixes her metaphors, I’ve said for years, “Simple minds run on a track like a choo choo.”  It made perfect sense to me, so I never understood why my husband always laughed when I said it.   What I mean, of course, is that when I’m focused on something important I can’t concentrate on anything else.

Which brings us back to my daughter’s wedding.

If it can’t be bought, ordered, or color-coordinated it doesn’t have a place in my life at the moment.  We are t-minus nine weeks and counting and my imagination has gone on vacation, taking my concentration along with it.  I was determined to write a blog post this week, but all I can think about is what color gels should be in the up-lighting, and if the seating for the ceremony should be three-quarters, or traditional. How did I ever survive without knowing what a sweetheart neckline was, or that  Wedgwood blue is not periwinkle?  I’m in a foreign land without a parachute. I haven’t felt so out of my league since I first became a mom.

Everything was new back then too:  DPT shots, with the P or not? Swaddling a newborn and which position – on tummy, back or side? Colic, croup, diaper rash, cloth diapers or Huggies?  Breastfeeding or bottle?  To Pump or Not To Pump?  And what about toilet training?!  How the hell does a mother ever survive toilet training?!  I used to follow my daughter around the house holding a plastic potty while she ran naked after her bath, and when she stopped, her eyes crossing in concentration, I planted her on the plastic seat and applauded her success.  And bingo! she was trained!  Nobody taught me that – I learned on the job.  That’s how mothers do it – learning on the job, correcting our mistakes as we make them.  Somehow I survived, and so did my kids.  And that’s what motherhood is all about.  No giant eagle swept down and grabbed one of my litter.  Hell, human moms have it easy.

Now, that baby who was so new and foreign to me is all grown up, a bride-to-be, and getting married.  Somehow I’ll make my way through this rite of passage too. I’ll shed a few tears (all right, a lot) remembering those endless days when being a new mom seemed unsurmountable, overwhelming, and totally exhausting.

It’s funny how you miss those days when you look back.

Somehow moms get through it – we adjust.  We change as the job demands us to change.  We hold close when we have to, and we let go when it’s time to let go. Even though every fiber inside of us wants to hold on forever.  We learn “to hold close with open arms” and love from a distance. Those hugs from little arms, that tiny hand holding ours, those kisses and “I love you, Mommy” we give up because we have to.  Not because we want to.

That’s what it means to be a mother.

If you’re a mom, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  If you’re not, just think of your own mom, and if you’re lucky to still have her around, hug her a little tighter this year on Mother’s Day.  She may not admit it, but she misses you.

Every difficult moment you ever gave her.

Every perfect second of your childhood.  Motherhood Mary Cassatt

Happy Mother’s Day!

Motherhood – It’s Complicated

I’d like to say a few words about motherhood.

It’s not pretty.

Honestly, it’s not like a Hallmark card or a Mary Cassatt painting. It’s far messier, and it hurts much more than we’re ever told. Not just the birth part (which is a major ouch) but every stage that comes along with motherhood brings its own set of pains.

It’s complicated being a mother.

You love your children, they’re the greatest gift you’ve ever been given (except when they’re in a tantrum or the teen years), but your finest achievement as a mother is letting them go.

How does anyone do motherhood and stay sane?

Just when you start getting good at the job, the kids grow up.  It’s Mother Nature’s cruel joke. You’ve got to be flexible when you’re a Mom.  The jobs you do keep changing the longer you do them. You give birth, and if that isn’t hard enough, you have to take charge of a little life twenty-four hours a day. Your breasts feed it, your eyes watch it, your touch comforts it, your hands change it. Your body ceases to be your own. And how does your child repay you for being the reason she’s alive? She learns to walk and walks away from you.

And that’s just the beginning.

With every stage of a child’s growth a mother has to change with it.  It’s a cruel fact, but it’s true.  Once you feel you know what you’re doing and you’re on top of things, your kids grow up to the next level and your job turns into something else.  And then, it’s on the job training all over again.  Whether we like it or not – tough patutties, we better get used to it.  And for those mothers reading this thinking, “I’ll be fine when my kids move on – I’ll do things for myself.” Good luck with that!  Good luck remembering who and what you were, and if you are now what you were back then before the stretch marks.

And there’s no such thing as retirement.

My mother is in her 80s and I still call her up and ask her how long leftovers are safe to eat.  It’s her job to know these things.  Or at least I think she knows them. If she doesn’t, please don’t tell me. And if she’s reading this?  Mom, I don’t want to know.

Motherhood is a tough job, so you better man up.

The toughest part of being a mother is remembering where you stop and your child begins.  If we’re not careful, that 24-hour vigil we perform when they’re infants creeps into our parenting. If you’re a helicopter mom, you’re in for a very big crash landing.  Sooner or later you will face the fact that that beautiful baby – flawless, and the center of the universe, will one day think you are the stupidest person in the world.  You don’t know anything, you laugh too loudly in restaurants, your clothes are atrocious, and oh by the way, can you buy him an iPhone?  I don’t care how respectful and loving your children are when they’re little, if they don’t pull away, and can’t wait to get away from you, you haven’t done your job.  If they go off to college, and they’re tearing it up on campus, having the time of their life while you’re at home in dirty sweats, watching “Mildred Pierce,” eating Hagen Daz, and weeping: Congratulations! You’re one helluva a mother.

And now maybe you’ll understand your own mother better.

Happy Mother’s Day!