I’ve never been a particularly maternal person. I like kids and babies when they belong to people I love, but I won’t walk up to a stranger to coo at their children, and I’ve never felt that motherhood would be my defining role in life. Still, that was before I met Arthur and Ella (who are, without doubt, the most remarkable children the world has ever seen – of course!) and at the moment life is all about mothering, all the time. I think this is probably true of anyone with a baby and a toddler, but I’ve been thinking, lately, of how I learnt to be a Mom… And the answer, of course, is from my mom.
When I am being my best Mom self – kind and patient, able to answer endless “Why?” questions without resorting to “It just is” or “I don’t know” answers, fun and playful, creative and nurturing and all that good stuff – it feels like I’m channeling my mom. She tells some pretty great stories about how the four of us frequently drove her to her wit’s end with petty squabbles and all that fun sibling stuff, but she was a stay-at-home Mom with four children and didn’t lose her mind. That’s proof positive that she rocks at motherhood, as far as I’m concerned.
My only complaint is that she made it look easy. Juggling the needs of kids and husband and home and always having a delicious dinner on the table at the end of the day. And oh my goodness me, Jeez Louise, golly gosh, heck no! It is not easy. Motherhood is the hardest job I’ve ever had.
The constant, ceaseless needing (which, I know, I know, will alleviate and then I’ll miss it – but will I? Really?)
The need to balance what they’re going through (toddler with sore teeth = crappy mood without the ability to articulate needs, so acting like a little terror) with my gut instinct (discipline little terror).
Trying to hold on to the indescribable sweetness while simultaneously being so tired all I want to do is sink into sleep and oblivion.
It’s a tough gig.
But my mom did it. Times four. And she is right there for me now, as she was when I was a baby and a clingy child and a geeky tween and an ambitious teen. She is right there, on the other side of the phone or (when we’re lucky) in real life, just as she was when I was sick and needed her to rub my back and put cold facecloths on my face. When I had countless extra-murals that she came to watch (oh! The endless debating competitions! The terrible plays!). When I moved halfway across the world and thought I would self-implode from homesickness.
I feel like we stumble into motherhood without much of a manual. There’s a few pre-natal classes and some overwhelming books, but nobody to stop you before you get pregnant and say: Hang on! Do you know what you’re doing?
My manual for how to do motherhood right is my mom. And I know just how lucky I am to be able to say that.