Can you remember that gentle kicking which caused you to sit and wonder about the infinite possibilities of that life you once carried so close to your heart?
Of course there were the times the kicks became a great source of pain and discomfort and we greatly anticipated the time when our bodies would once again become our own. It was a belief never realized until our children often reached the age of five or so, at a time when we had forgotten ourselves for far too long.
Motherhood does not end; it merely evolves and changes our lives in different ways over time. There was the time we never could go to the bathroom alone, and then the time we sat worried as we sent them to the bathroom alone.
That first day of school was far more traumatic to us than it ever was for our kids. My daughter was up at 3 a.m., fully dressed and insisting it was time to leave for school. Today I have to go in and literally push her out of bed for high school.
I remember the day I sat in my bedroom pouting and saying that famous phrase we all have uttered. It always began with, “When I am a Mom I will never do/say/expect ‘BLANK’ to my kids!” Then, of course, years later I found myself doing or saying exactly what I swore I never would do. Yikes, where did that come from? I called my mother to tell her what I had just said and she laughed. We have all been there.
I remember hearing this threat: “If you keep making that face you will be cross-eyed for life.” As an infant my daughter actually had several surgeries to correct her cross-eyed condition which she was born with. I admit I wondered if she suffered because of the many times I ignored that threat from my mother.
Part of being a mom is perfecting being irrational at times. It is silly but we do tend to blame ourselves for everything—and it often has nothing to actually do with us.
Now I find myself yearning for that child that once was captivated by my stories and demanding all the time I had. She has grown up and it often appears that I am the last person on her agenda.
I know this is normal but it also confirms that I have grown along with her. I am not ready to let go while she cannot wait to be free of me. Do mother birds yearn for their young ones while marveling at how successful they are when they take flight?
I am convinced that they do.
Sitting home in the dark knowing I should go to bed but cannot find sleep there, I find new appreciation for all the times my mother must have sat in the dark while I was out on a date. We know what we did when we were young, daring, and mislead to believe that life would never bring us emotional pain. We want to protect them and keep them from that pain but know without a doubt that very pain will arrive whether we try to prepare them for it or not.
Life does not follow our desires as it takes us on its own unique and bumpy path we never suspect.
Looking in my high school yearbook someone had wrote, “If you love someone set them free, if they return it was meant to be.” Now a mom, I interpret that saying in so many different ways; many I never would have considered so long ago when I was asking friends to write silly things in my yearbook. Wow, it feels like that happened not so long ago.
I remember seeing the great big world and wanting to go feel it, touch it, and become a part of it. Rarely did that vision include my parents. I remind myself how in my own youth I looked beyond parents for possibilities.
Over the past couple of years my mother and I have had some really interesting conversations. We recognized the apprehension and growing pains we felt as our children had grown and pulled away from us. That mother bird knows that the young eventually return to the nest and then eventually builds their very own nest close by.
Life has a way of bringing us back with new eyes to see those that we so often dismissed in our quest for independence and appreciate beyond any definition the impact they had on our life.
My mother and I share stories and laughter. We look at many things together and see possibilities for adventures we never thought possible. Comparing notes and observations we find and appreciate each other’s insight. Life has come full circle and I admire my mom for all the things I once was so critical of.
Now my best friend in the whole world, I find I cannot possibly get enough of her time.
First published April 2009