Sunday, May 12, 2013

Welcome to the Mothership


    “The power that a mother has to create another human being, with a sense of self-esteem, with a sense of possibility, that is a job that you should honor…this is a person who is making sacrifices all the time so that your life can be better.  So I think the more we can acknowledge moms in our own homes and beyond, the more women will feel empowered in that role.”

--Maria Shriver speaking of her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommies, grandmas, aunties, Godmothers, and ‘second mothers’ out there.  You all know that Mother’s Day morning I will be milking this to the hilt as the one day I get to sleep in with all the justification in the world. 

The Mother’s Day bandwagon is one which I have recently joined myself.  Truth be told, the only other humans who truly understand the sacrifices other mommies have made, is well, other mommies.  I was on the train the other day speaking with a co-worker who has a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a six-month old.  I said to him “What is Carol (aka Mrs. Australian) doing for Mother’s Day?” and he said she’s having a weekend out with the girls.  I said that’s the way to go.  Everyone needs a break from their children, especially on Mother’s Day.  Ironic as it may sound, I have a 15 month old whose molars are arriving with no lack of drama and me and my 30+ year-old molars don’t need to listen to this crap. 

In my whopping 15 months of experience as a mom, which, I know is not quite a solid match for the tours of some others on mom-duty, including my own mother, I do feel comfortable stating that motherhood boils down to two elements: what you DO for your children and what you WANT for your children.

What you DO for your children is highly visible and easily measurable.  Right now I’m in a DO FOR the child phase, as are most moms of little children.  We do the basics:  feeding, washing, dressing, explaining words, phrases, actions, vocabulary, we play with the little ones.  We teach building, sharing, colors, shapes.  We regulate that the daily vegetable intake should exceed the daily French fry intake.  We do your laundry, we snap you snugly into your carseat, we drive cautiously as if the most important person is in our car, because the most important person IS in our car.  We tuck you into bed at night and we liberate you from the crib each morning.  Your laundry still has a baby smell to it, and we love it.  Moms love to snuggle you!!!!!!

Big or small, near or far, what moms WANT for their children knows no boundaries, not age, not distance, not for lack of communication, not for excess of proximity, not for traits in common, not for diverse personalities, your mom always wants what’s best for you.  And maybe you scoff at the idea, but it’s true.  When I was pregnant in the late summer of 2011, I was excited for this baby and I thought I was having a girl.  I thought to myself, dear little girl, I want you to have a fantastic life, and I want you to avoid all the mistakes I made and I’m going to tell you exactly how to do that.  Then, on September 14th, 2011 we had a sonogram and found out you were not a little girl at all, but in fact, you were a little boy.  And I knew nothing of what it was like to be a boy, so, little baby, you and I are going to figure out the Mom-baby boy thing together. And that’s what we’ve been doing for the last 15 months.  (Even if you were a girl, I’m still new to this mom thing so not really sure what I was thinking there). 

Boy or Girl, I was already formulating all the life lessons that I though you needed to know.  Filtering out the really important lessons, getting ready for the excitement I thought your life would hold, bracing for the disappointments I thought may come your way, based on my own experiences, and always hoping the excitement would outweigh the disappointments, hands down.  I know we are still working on building vocabulary and using utensils, but I hope that my little one finds his talents early on, that he treats people with respect, and learns to recognize that he deserves the same, and whomever become his friends or significant other, whether I like them or not, if they are a big part of his life, they are always welcome to come over for dinner, or more likely, takeout. 

In my 15 months on the mothership, I have also developed great empathy for the other mommies out there and the challenges they face.  My own mother didn’t found the Special Olympics, but at one point she worked three jobs at the same time.  I can see how my mom worried if her daughter would ever come back from London (she did) or if her son would ever walk again after losing his leg (he does).  When I lost my father at ten years old, many, many things seemed topsy-turvy.  But I was told this was going to be very difficult on my 76 year-old Grammy, burying her 44 year-old son.  I saw the sorrow on her face that day and filed it in my ten year-old memory.  Now, on the mothership, that sorrow has an all new, raw, context when retrieved from my ten year-old memory. 

No part of me wants to lose my little boy, I don’t even know how anyone can recover from that.  But I have to admit, there is a part of me that felt like once this kid was born, my job was done.  As if I had secured the next generation and thus my time was up.  Even if time’s not up, I have this feeling that I have to protect my little guy and guide him on his path to adulthood.  I think most moms feel that way.  I had never really considered my own mortality in this regard until I had this little guy to worry about.  I’ve already decided that if the events of this world take me out of it and keep babycakes in it, I’m determined to be his guardian angel, his watcher, the spirit on his shoulder, because even if I’m at a point where I can’t DO for my child, I will always WANT for my child, for his happiness, for his health, for his well-being, and so that he may know his Momma always loves him.  Even if he still calls me Daddy. 

Vocabulary, Nick, vocab. 

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