During my pregnancy and right after birth there were a lot of "warnings" about the havoc my little monster would create. How I wouldn't be able to function without sleep. How I would have to recalibrate. How I'd need to discipline. Heaps upon loads of advice on how to keep the baby from inconveniencing my routine, at any cost.
I've experienced different kinds of neediness in my life: My professional contacts have reminded me since you were 6 months old how badly I'm wanted back at work. Your father has patiently waited for me to become a friend and a wife to him again. Your grandparents have always missed spending time with their only child. But nothing like this.
Mother's Day is this Sunday. In amongst all the details of working, living, and being a mother myself, I'm determined to take time to think about what my mother would really like this year. Thinking about my mother's interests -- and about the memories we share together -- has given me a lot of inspiration for this Mother's Day.
I ponder how much kinder our world would be if we were able to maintain our own child-like innocence and act more on instinct rather than learned conventions. If we responded from a place of authenticity rather than politeness. If we were wholeheartedly dedicated to the ones we're with, tending to their needs honestly, rather than worrying how others may judge us.
"Bravo, sister. I honour you. I would do anything to take away some of the pain that you've experienced. And I know that I'll never understand what you carry around inside. But your children -- they're so beautiful. And you've used all of your resources -- your love, your patience, and your creativity -- to keep them alive and healthy. You've taught them when there was no school and comforted them when there was nothing comforting to say. You've made 'home' in camps, tents, and on the side of the road. I will do whatever I can, through my donations, through my prayers and through my writing, to help carry your children to safety and happiness."
What normal parent would be insanely jealous of their own child?! I never expected it and I certainly didn't want it. But there it was: jealousy. As plain as the nose on my face. It all started just after puberty. I was fourteen when Mom first accused me of trying to "be cute" for my own father. Need I add that it wasn't true? But your Mommy is always right, isn't she?
Last night, my husband spoke the three most terrifying words in the English language. "Take a break." I was horrified. My blood ran cold. "But, but..." "No buts about it. Take the day off. Why don't you have some fun?" he suggested, smiling. Fun? Fun!? I drew a blank. And that's when I knew I had a problem.
Some are geographically distant from those they hold dear and raise a solitary glass to absent friends. Others have lost loved ones to the grave. But for many of us, "no contact" is a choice we consciously made. Loneliness is simply less painful than the agony of spending time with our toxic families.
Parenting is, of course, the most consuming, challenging and exhausting task that I have ever involved myself in. Some days I ask: "What were we thinking???" And on the other days, I just don't ask. Speaking of "we," I readily admit that marriage is a very close second in this listing of difficult things known to humankind.
Three weeks after my third C-section, I decided to take off my bandage and I was truly horrified. I saw a 2nd incision above my previous C-section scar. What on earth was this OBGYN thinking? I was shocked and angry and really felt violated. I was exhausted and excited to meet my baby, and it really didn't occur to me to remind the doctor on call to cut over my previous C-section. You would think this was common practice and that there were notes in my file about my discussions and expectations for this procedure. Was he careless? Was he disrespectful? Was he in a rush? Was it just easier for him to make a new incision?
There will be lies, false claims and misrepresentations. There will be promises made that might not endure the test of time. Words spoken that will prove to be short-lived and disappointing. Arrangements agreed upon that will not necessarily be followed through. This is the reality of the passage of time and growing up.
Why is there a tendency for daughter-in-laws to have bumpy relationships with mother-in-laws? It's understandable that conflict can arise when two different ideologies collide. Ideologies about child-rearing, domestic chores, finances, "wifely" duties, working outside the home, personal appearance, "husband care" and so on.
Before I had kids, I dreamed about being a stay-at-home mom. I loved the idea of having the whole household under control and making life easy for my husband by rocking the homemaker role. But as it turns out, I am happy in that role about one day per week and otherwise feel totally and utterly stifled.
My mother missed her children's weddings. Missed the birth of her grandchild. In that grand balance up in the sky, measuring who gave and who took, my mother's ledger is a study of injustice. I doubt there has ever been an adult soul who took less, whose footprint was lighter. She never harmed or blasphemed or burdened; she was not perfect, but her faults were small and were her own, never imposing them on others. She deserved more. A lot more.