Because it is Mothers’ Day and I have just gotten home from a trip to Connecticut to visit my own mom this weekend, this will be short and sweet. All right then, short. Probably.
This is very likely my last Mother’s Day with the guarantee of seeing at least one child. Only a few short weeks from now, YK will be graduating from high school, eager to shed the training wheels of her high school experience and venture into the unknown at a college. Eight hours away. OK can’t exactly ‘stop by’ for a visit from Philly to Maine. After 24 years, this day is bound to change.
Every so often S will be foolish enough to bring up the fact that it will be “just the two of us” very soon. He tends to do so when he is not within head slapping range, as he is acutely aware this is a sensitive subject for me and one I have yet to fully embrace. Still, I will admit to a small sense of excitement at preparing for our own “unknown” down the road. I’m learning maybe it’s all right to feel that way if you believe in your heart you’ve done it right. Not necessarily always the best way, but as right as you could get it without an instruction manual.
It would be a lie to say that I didn’t keep a steady count of the 50 times I had to rub OK’s back every night before she would even attempt to sleep, or that I wasn’t more-than-ready to be done with singing the chorus of “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive” (does anyone reading this even know who Travis Tritt is?) for the 12th time with YK on any car ride longer than 5 minutes. The Great Shopping Cart Debacle and The Longest Ride Ever To Preschool - both vignettes about the worst days in the lives of my then three-year-olds (which they loved having retold when they hit their teens) – were not humorous at the time. Looking back on those moments, they somehow make me feel complete.
Being a mom has offered a plethora of inconsistencies. It is rewarding and exasperating, a broad learning experience as well as a lesson in futility, memorably sweet and mentally exhausting. It was a shock to me in the beginning that watching the nightly news was too overwhelming once I was holding a week old baby in my inexperienced arms – so many horrible things happening in this world, how dare I bring a helpless child into it? Then it got even harder. Over their school years, not only did they glean much from teachers’ notes on the board in school, both faced some very harsh lessons from their peers. I am sure there were things I never knew, mini traumas I was not privy to because I would transform into Mama Bear ready to pounce on whoever upset my child. Letting them settle their own differences was truly a difficult lesson for me to learn.
There has been much written about a mother’s love for her child. Not to sound like a downer, but I think my words might be more about how heart-wrenching motherhood can be. A child, no matter what age, can instill fear and worry you did not know you could feel, just by being five minutes late. As a teen that same child will quite possibly see you as a blithering idiot who can barely contain their own drool. If you’re lucky you will start to recover some brain activity when they are about 22.
The reality is this. That kid you burped and kept clean as an infant, sat in a steam-filled bathroom holding when they had croup as a toddler, ‘assisted’ with school projects the night before they were due and helped find the right gift for a friend whose party you didn’t know they were invited to (on the way to the party) in middle school, drove everywhere, and eventually handed the car keys to with a touch of both trepidation and relief, will most likely break your heart into a billion tiny shards at the same time you hug them and send them on their way. Then they will walk out the kitchen door to their next adventure with your blessing, less and less likely to use the spare house key as time moves on. But a part of you will still wait up.
I haven't always gotten it right, but my daughters still make me feel beautiful and awesome. It wasn't always perfect... but every moment, every back rub, every song, will always be perfectly mine to cherish.
Happy Mother’s Day.