On Motherhood

Every year, on Mothers Day, Facebook is flooded with posts from grateful sons and daughters, bragging about all the amazing qualities of their respective moms. Thank god for social media. It used to be that you had to actually call your mother on the second Sunday in May, or even worse, meet her for an overpriced brunch somewhere. Now you can post a heartwarming photo and a few choice words and you have fulfilled your obligation.

Not that I have any problem with Mothers Day, or my mom, for that matter. In fact, I am one of the lucky ones. I adore my mother; we get along perfectly. She lives close by. Most importantly, she is still alive. For many people, this particular holiday is nothing but a terrible reminder of what they have lost. If you are one of them, know that I am thinking of you.

Of course, there are also the blog posts from the childless women, the ones who feel compelled to defend their decision to not become mothers. And I understand the impulse, after all, if there is ever a day to make a woman feel defensive about her life choices, it is Mothers Day.  So by all means, stay out late, have a glass of wine without having to hire a babysitter, and celebrate a life free from tantrums and poopy diapers. (Well, mostly. There is still old age to look forward to.)

The thing is, some of us really love being moms. I mean, yes, there are some trying moments. Like the time my daughter's "mommy clingy" toddler phase coincided perfectly with our week-long beach vacation. Mommy is going to go for a swim now. "MAAAAAAMAAAAA!" Mommy is going to go for a little walk down the beach...alone. "MAAAAMAAAAAAAA!" Mommy is going to try to take a nap now. "WAAAANNNNT MAAAMMMAAAA!" Mommy is going to slit her wrists now.

That was a great vacation!

We mamas try sooo hard to do it right. And mostly, we succeed. But occasionally other parts of life gets in the way. Earlier this year, I had a biopsy on a lump in my thyroid and had the fun experience of WAITING FOR THE CANCER TEST RESULTS TO COME BACK. (An experience that can really only be written in capital letters.) I thought I was handling the whole thing quite well, teaching my karate classes, taking care of Maya. Until the day she didn't want to go to the playground after school and I started screaming at her. I would like to say she had some fault in this incident, that she asked for ice cream or lost her backpack or any minor childhood infraction that would make my standing in the middle of Grand Street shouting "I DON'T WANT TO JUST GO HOME AND SIT IN THE HOUSE!" like a 2 year old even a little bit ok. But no, that gem was all me. 

Sometimes the best thing to do is just be honest. As in "Mommy is so very sorry she yelled at you. I am a little worried about something and it is making me very sad and cranky. You did nothing wrong, I am just having a really bad day. I love you." Later that evening I called my husband. "Hi honey. Remember how strong and positive and just completely okay I have been about all this. Well, funny thing actually. Turns out I am NOT OKAY!!! I AM SO NOT OKAY!!"

Thankfully, the tumor was benign and I could go back to freaking out about more mundane things like head lice.

Oh, the head lice! That moment when you look into your daughter's beautiful blond hair and see little black things MOVING!!! I cringe just thinking about it. And the laundry. And the combing. The never ending combing. 

But all those hours spent poking at my daughters scalp with a fine toothed metal comb are nothing, NOTHING compared to how much I absolutely adore being a mother. How much I love the 10 seconds every morning between the creaking of her loft bed ladder and the pop of her bedroom door opening. Or how great it feels when she accomplishes something new. Or how cute she looks with sand on her nose, her hair dripping wet from the ocean. Her feet are stinky and sometimes she rolls her eyes like a 14 year old, but god do I love this little girl.

Last Friday I went out with my own mother. She is 75 and everything about her screams Grandma, from her love of baking to the constant stream of gifts she bestows upon my 7 year old. It was too early for lunch so we ended up just sitting on a bench in the shade, talking about life. (It was very Forrest Gump.)

At one point, after discussing my dad and his stubborn ways, I said "The older I get the more I realize that life is just a constant struggle between trying to change the things you don't like about yourself and your situation, and trying to accept the things that are unchangeable." (Somewhere, someone who has gone through AA is emphatically nodding her head.) The thing is, these things are constantly shifting. Sometimes you work really hard to change something, only to eventually realize that you should have been letting it go instead. Other times you choose to accept something simply because the road to change is too long and too hard and you would rather just sit down in the shade for awhile and rest.

Parenting is just like that. It is like sitting down at a pottery wheel determined to make a vase. So you push and pull and you add water and you smooth the sides up and down and you spin the wheel slower and faster and all the time you have this image in your head of exactly what this beautiful vase is going to look like. And then, after all that work, you pull the damn thing off the wheel and it is a bowl. You have made a bowl. 

But, what do I know, I have never done pottery.

I do know that I love being a mom. I think my daughter is amazing. There are plenty of things I would love to change about myself, but this, this incredible job of raising a child, is not one of them. So I will continue to do the best I can, all the while knowing that in the end my Maya will ultimately just become who she is meant to be. 


Happy Mothers Day!


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