I saw this question on Friday but I forgot which blog I saw it on~ Parent Blasters or something like that. They were asking for contributions, but the deadline was Friday, so it was too late for me to participate. Nevertheless, this is a worthy question to ponder. Well, the obvious first thought I could give is that I never thought that I would become a parent at all, let alone ever think there would be a time I’d sit back and think about what kind of mother I am, the kind of mother I want to be. Now, I wonder what am I really capable of and what limitations I have. I think it’s very important to know your limitations. The first of which is the fact that I’ve been thinking about this since yesterday, Friday, but have not been writing anything down. So, I sit here now, at the eleventh hour, trying to both remember my thoughts and string them together in a comprehensible fashion.
As I sit here, I simply cannot think….. The more I do, however, I come to the conclusion that everything I have been in the past, everything I have learned as part of my own, personal, education has helped to make me a mother. I feel as though everything I have learned, everything I’ve experienced in my own life up to now, has culminated into the grand scheme of “mother” I am supposed to be for my child. I get visions of my life flashing before my eyes as if it were a near death experience and everything, every little dot and crossed “t” has now shown itself to be critical for my success as a mother.
If you don’t know me, or my story, I’ll go back a little and say that I have spent my whole life “waiting” for something, unbeknownst to me, to happen in my life. It was something that I just felt. Another predominant feeling of mine has been that I never thought that I would/could make a good mother. I never had the patience for kids of any age, though it’s always been easy for me to talk to children and they to me. The secret was that I actually listened to them and conversed with them. Still, I was a very flighty person and NEVER committed to anything, even if I was pretty sure I’d follow through. Although, I always wondered what a girl child of mine would look like, my desire for one never went beyond that. Part of my aversion to parenthood was that my life was never settled, never stable. When I was married in my twenties, we tried for a baby, but never got pregnant, so I thought that I could not get have them. It seemed so simple to me. Motherhood was not meant to be for me. What I didn’t realize was that something inside me did not want my then husband to be the father of any of child of mine. I am sure that thought is something that tobeme can really appreciate. My body refused to have normal, predictable cycles so that I could conceive. Well, that and the stress of the marriage that I was totally unaware of; which goes to show you how young and mentally immature I really was. The end result was no kids and as time went by, I was happy with my life minus the responsibility of raising a family. I came and went as I pleased. I digress. Then and now.
As I got older, I grew as a person; and one day I realized that the wealth I have to offer a child was not that of money, but of experience, life and pure, unconditional love. I am, and have always been a source of a never ending spring of love. I always felt love welling up from inside me and I had nobody to give it to. It felt immensely frustrating and heartbreaking to me. I wondered why God had done such a thing to me. Ah, the impatience of a 17 year old. I had always thought that I needed a man, a partner, a companion, a husband to shower all this love down onto. Well, the man that I am married to now appreciates it, but he is a very independent guy and really doesn’t need it; and though he likes it, I realize I can easily smother him. As a matter of fact, I smothered too many men and quite effectively chased them away with my attentions. God’s hand moved.
What makes me a mother like no other to my child is my treasure of knowledge, such as it is. Ah, this kind of treasure is worthless, indeed, invisible, if it’s not shared. I just happen to be poised in the perfect position to share because I have resolved to keep the lines of communication open. It will be a difficult line to manage as I want to be a “mother”, yet I want my boy to feel as though he can tell me anything. My sister became her kids’ “friend”, but I know I don’t want to go to the extreme down that road. I am prepared to listen to my kid. I am prepared to explain myself and my motives to my kid. I am prepared to invite questions from my kid. I am prepared to apologize to my kid (if appropriate). I am prepared to make my kid feel that he is important, that he matters, that I value his thoughts, his opinions, whatever they may be. One thing I noticed with young kids is that they know when adults are just patronizing them. The kid that is hurt the most is not the kid that is abused, but the kid that is ignored. Remember The Breakfast Club? When that was said in the movie, it struck a painful chord with me. It was Ally Sheedy’s character, Allison. She was the “weird” one. I WAS THE WEIRD ONE.
Another quality that I have that makes me a mother is that I never really lost my childhood. I love to play and I know the importance of nurturing the inquisitive mind. I allow my son to experience anything and everything up to the point of his personal danger, however that may manifest, be it a busy street, to dog, bird and cat poop in the yard and spiders in the water cans. Those of you who are acquainted with my quirkiness for English, probably have an idea already that I refuse to speak to my kid in baby talk. It’s not that I am trying to push him out of his childhood, but I want him to learn proper English, and not think his made up words are correct. I understand his words, but repeat back to him the proper word. I praise him, but I use the proper word. Eventually, he’ll get it.
I am sitting here wondering what else makes me a mother and I look around the place. This part of the house is also my son’s play area. It’s 9:30 at night and every box of his is empty, all toys strewn about. I have learned to act as if I do not notice. I may or may not pick all this stuff up; but probably will just because tomorrow the boy’s Nanny (grandmother) will be coming over. She really doesn’t mind, but if I don’t put a reason there to do it, it won’t get done. I’ve freely given the boy more and more territory. I’ve accepted the fact that I’ve got to put more and more of my stuff away in storage just so that they can survive to the next era of “normalcy” around here. A time when adult items can be proudly be out in the open without fear of death or destruction. I do this with a smile as this idea was a “light bulb moment” when a solution was needed to stop my yelling at the boy because he was going after my stuff, no matter how high I put things. Ah, precious dragons are put aside for precious boy.
Though I have more patience with him than I ever thought I would have, there are times when I blow up. There have been a few of them… but more than I care to admit. I sigh a long, hard sigh. This is one of my limitations. I pray about it. I think about it and I try to be aware of my tendency to flash a tornado at him. I try to think why I am “really” upset and more often than not, the situation was caused directly by my lack of forethought than the baby “being bad”. Lack of forethought is when I forget to take things I don’t want him to fool with out of his way before he sees them… like the bottle of soda he is increasingly becoming more enamored with each day.
My son is really learning some words now. Already I am sharing his joy when I see his excitement of showing us what words he knows and that he knows he knows them. Got that? I love seeing his little light bulb light up when he is successful at what he is attempting, whatever it is, be it going down a slide for the first time or taking off his socks. I’ll never forget the light in his eyes (or mine) when I found the Land of the Lost Boy’s Socks under his crib~18 pairs! He loves to learn, God bless his heart, and we will try to keep the opportunities coming to him. He is learning to say the letters by letters on the fridge and Newman’s Own Alphabet graham cracker cookies… hubby’s great idea! I wonder how many bags of that stuff we’ll have to buy! DH says that the whole alphabet is represented in every bag. Did I mention that I would not be half the mother that I am if I did not have an excellent example of what a father should be in the person of the Drake? If I have an unending source of love, HE’s got an apparently unending source of patience! I love him and still want to be the mother of HIS children! See how God implants everything you need to start into your being? Like a kit. It’s called intuition. I knew during our first date together.
I am tired but somehow I don’t think I’ve managed to say much <again>. Though I ache for bed this night, I would be remiss if I did not write a little more. Like any other kid, I learned a lot from my own mother, but not in the way that you’d expect. My own mother never really talked to us. She was very intelligent and intuitive to a degree, yet, there was never true communication between us. I do not feel as if I ever truly knew her, or who she was. Not all her fault either as I was to blame, too; but hey, she was the parent in that equation and her responsibility to take the lead, not I, the immature child. She just left it alone, giving up, whatever. I’ll never know. I have made peace with my mother, though. I realize that she was somehow incapable of anything more than she was. I know she made sacrifices for us, big ones, but very subtle. She sacrificed herself, her identity to be our mother. She sacrificed being our “friend” to be our Mother, capital M. She shut herself off to us perhaps because she found herself in the position of the needed disciplinarian while my father was out working 2 and 3 jobs. She was very sensitive, too, and that was probably why she had to shut herself down emotionally… so that we kids would know that she meant business.
Remember, babies never did, or ever will come with a user’s manual. My mother’s mother did not talk to her… and so the cycle repeated itself, for one last generation. I am where the buck stopped last…. to die. Pretty smelly here as I do not have a manual, either; but I am planting my lavenders, rosemarys, and lemon tyme to stifle the stench and my baby will someday help me plant my garden. He will someday learn how to knit if he still wants to by then. The world will be his oyster if oysters are not wiped off the face of the earth by then.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Gotta go and fold some laundry!