Some women are born to be mothers, and I was blessed to have one of those as mine. She loved kids – her kids, your kids, kids she didn’t know. She would offer assistance to moms with crying kids in grocery store lines. She volunteered as a room mother at school, opening milk cartons, wiping noses, and tying dozens of shoes. She had radar that zeroed in on unattended kids in public places, making sure no one made off with them until their parent returned from wherever they’d been, unconcerned about their offspring.
Being a mom is hard. I wasn’t born to be a mom. I remember putting my son to bed after a particularly challenging day for both of us. Tears ran down his face and in a quavering voice he said, “It’s hard to be five.” I countered. “Being 34 isn’t so great either.”
Don’t get me wrong. I love that kid with all my being – I just wasn’t a natural. As it turned out, the part I worried about – a tiny fragile infant, diapers, sleepless nights, etc. – was pretty much the easiest part. The hard part was knowing how much. How much direction, how much supervision, how much discipline… and agreeing on all that with a co-parent. Oh, and listening to him learn to read. That was really painful also.
Lots of moms struggle. They’re just doing the best that they can. This is definitely a sport where everyone should get a participation award. I guess maybe that’s what Mother’s Day is all about – recognizing Mom – good or bad, you tried. Here, have a day in your honor. The unfortunate part about parenting, is that you don’t necessarily know if you’re doing a good job until the heavy lifting is done. By the time you figure out what you shoulda, coulda, woulda done, they’re grown.
Also, once you’re a mom, you become aware (sometimes painfully so) what your own mother went through. Thankfully, that curse mothers try to put on their kids by saying, ‘I hope you get a kid just like you’ doesn’t work. I don’t know what I would have done with a kid like me. My sister and I were talking about regrets the other day. She feels badly for things she said or did as a daughter. Me too! But I told her not to worry too much about such things. Mom forgave us – everything. I know it. When I start to go there, I think about how much I love my son even when I want to strangle him. A mother’s love is unconditional.
Two years ago, a sweet friend and fun work colleague passed away from cancer leaving her two young children. Heartbreaking under any circumstances, she has much been on my mind this week as I keep thinking about how badly she wanted to be a mom, and when it finally happened, how much she loved it. Her memorial keepsake card expressed this hope – the hope of all mothers.
My hope is that they will remember Mommy tried. Even when she was tired, even when she was stressed. I hope they will know that I did it all for them. That I had every intention of being great, good, and grand, but some days all I could be was okay. – Author unknown
If you’re able to spend Mother’s Day with your mom, good on you. If not, consider reaching out to another mom, not just tomorrow, but any day. How about a smile and nod to a mom struggling in a grocery store or restaurant. Give a shout-out to your mother in law. (Hi KO!) High five the mom that figured out a nut free, wheat free, organic treat that can be shared with the whole class. Call a favorite aunt. (No, I don’t mean text her or tag her on social media. Call her and talk to her.) Or maybe, you could help out a friend that has a son learning to read, by having him read a book to you.
Happy Mother’s Day everyone!