Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mother, may I?

mommy and me
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
I think my attitude about motherhood (or lack thereof) spared me from constant and bitter disappointment. I had no idea what I was doing, and I didn't pretend otherwise.

You see, I didn't EVER want to be a mom. I didn't ever want to be pregnant. I didn't ever want to be married. I've now done all three, yet all along the way I thought the worst: I was going to lose my identity, I was going to hate being pregnant, I was going to be a terrible mom. None of that has come to pass (with the exception of the last one, which remains to be seen for the next 20 or 30 years).

I have listened to a LOT of women drone on about how they would NEVER give their kids pacifiers; they'd never let them eat junk food or watch television; they'd never let the children cry themselves to sleep or have a moment of discomfort if it could be avoided. They were going to raise gifted children who were self-aware and self-actualized. In short, they were going to be supermoms. They had it all mapped out. They KNEW the right way and that's all there was to it.

I just sat quietly and listened.

If there's one thing I knew, it was not to count on anything I "KNOW."

My mom got very sick when I was about 27, nearly a decade before my own daughter was born. I learned I was not the person I thought I was the moment she told me the news. While I could do physical things for her (shave her head after chemo started making it fall out in clumps) I could not TALK to her. I couldn't be in the same room with her if she cried or got angry or even mentioned the words "cancer" or "death." My reaction stunned us both. To this day (and she is still with us, though not in the health she would have liked) she will not tell me anything BAD unless it can't be avoided.

I bring this up because I don't think any of us know how we are going to be under stress -- ever. Although I never thought this parenthood path would be mine, I've come to ADORE the life I have now. This love, however, has not made it any easier. Nothing is a gift. All progress seems hard fought and over thought. Worry and mom, I've learned, are identical except for their parts of speech. And yet, despite all of the gray hair growing from my scalp like weeds, I am strangely able to let things go. I am able to know, in my heart, that I am doing the best I can, and while I am always striving to do better I will not berate myself (or others) for the mistakes we are all destined to make. We are, after all is said and done, human.

"Forgive" is my new mantra. I now firmly believe having doubts is a good thing. I think when you have doubts about yourself or you think you will screw everything up you have no place to go but up.


Gail said...

I bring this up because I don't think any of us know how we are going to be under stress -- ever.

It's true. August was really tough for us. David wanted me to be with him every minute of every day, and nobody else. I was going crazy. I went to New York City overnight at the end of August because I needed a timeout and he thought I was being selfish. "Jeez, I wish *I* could take a vacation from cancer," he said.

Nothing is easy, even when there's love. The "all you need is love" lyric does not apply to real life.

JGS said...

I never wanted or expected to be a Dad, either. I thought I was destined to screw it up, to repeat the mistakes of my family. I could only see the negatives, the costs of becoming a father. I had no idea how incredible it could feel, how it would change me in positive ways, how it challenges me to be more than I am to be what my Okapis' need.

Do you ever look at how you handled a situation or something you did or said for your little girl and wonder how you managed to do it? The whole experience has been quite amazing.