Curt “surprised” me with a relaxing weekend getaway to the Oregon coast for Mother’s Day. Well, it was only a partial surprise. Taking a cue from the Tiger Mother book, earlier in the week I asked Curt what he was planning to do for Mother’s Day. I could tell I took him by surprise, as for most special occasions I usually warn him, “Please do not buy me roses,” or “Really, I don’t want anything, just to spend time with my family.” And I’m not sure why this year was different, but I did want to feel special and I also realized that to avoid disappointment, I shouldn’t expect Curt to suddenly be psychic.
So, to explain my sudden forwardness, I told him about the book and how Tiger Mother goes to dinner with her family to celebrate her birthday. She receives cards from both her daughters that clearly took them less than a minute to make. Instead of feigning gratefulness, she immediately rejects them, handing them back and telling her daughters that she deserves better than what they’ve given her and to go make more meaningful cards. One would think that having to tell someone what you want or think you deserve would take away any meaning or thoughtfulness from the gift itself. But, I didn’t feel the least bit guilty about going on a weekend getaway with my family and we all had a blast. So I think I’ll be adopting her technique from now on. Women take note.
While we were at the coast though, I had a (very) few moments of downtime to reflect on my mom and being a mother as well. I look back at the life my mother led while we were growing up and can only think of how hard and tiring it must have been. But that everything she did was for the love of her three daughters, even though it may not have seemed so at the time.
My mom worked a full-time (often over-time) job, cooked, cleaned, did the laundry, shuttled us around to practices and games and somehow raised the three of us at the same time. I never saw my mom before I went to school, she was at work at 6:00 am, but we knew she thought of us because she often made pancakes (usually in the form of Mickey Mouse) before she left. Those were great mornings. I hate the feeling of leaving for work before Laird wakes up and I only work three days a week, so I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for her. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, especially during my teenage years, my mom is one of the most kind-hearted, generous and peaceful people I know. Her world revolved around us and it still does.
It’s funny when I think about an incident just three years ago: I had a missed period and was panicking because I thought I was pregnant. That’s because three years ago I never really saw myself as mother material, probably because I wasn’t around babies growing up and also didn’t think I was mature enough to raise another human being. I think Curt was a little surprised when I told him I wanted to have a baby just 6 months after my thought-I-was-pregnant incident. Although the first three months of motherhood were the lowest in my life, the last 17 have been incredible. A coworker described parenthood to me as, “The realization that you had a hole in your heart that you had never noticed before.” That couldn’t be more true. I often find myself just gazing at Laird, he must wonder what the heck I’m looking at. Or laughing hysterically at the crazy things he says or sings in his crib in the morning. Recently, as I am shutting the door to his room at night, we say “I love you” back and forth, getting louder each time, until we are yelling “I LOVE YOU!” at each other from upstairs to downstairs.
Motherhood is indescribable. It is feeling joy, pride, trust, tired, stressed, giggly, heartache, impatience, tormented, guilt, peacefulness, fear, elation and love. All in the span of two hours. Yes, it is a ride like I’ve never been on before and all the while, as a mom I question if the path I’m taking Laird on is the right one. Am I doing a good job? Am I a good mom? Of course, in my heart I know that any path is right so long as it is chosen based on love. Yet, it is amazing how much I question myself as a parent.
In retrospect, I think I was afraid of parenthood because I knew that once I became a mom, I could never stop being one. There would be no turning back, it would be forever. What I didn’t realize at the time though, was that once I became a mother, I would never want to stop being one. It really is the best job on earth.