Journeying Through Motherhood
Affirmation: Being a mother is my greatest joy.
As we walked around the lake the geese couple were crossing the path and next to them was a gaggle of goslings. The female goose raised her head and stared right at us daring us to come closer. Behind us was another walker and her dog. The mother goose didn’t hesitate. She took off charging, squawking loudly at the dog. It had come too close to her babies. I’ve been a mother for over 40 years now. Now, I’m also the grandmother of four great people. I’m also very non-biased. My adult gym now offers toddler swim lessons on Saturday mornings. I feel a deep ache as I watch the parents interact with the children. I have an even stronger reaction when I see the fathers caring for the little ones, holding out their arms for them to jump into and holding their little hands as they lead them to and from the pool. I’m nostalgic for that time but I remember those lessons when I did them and I am just fine that now I’m simply an appreciative observer.
One day a young mother shared with a group of us that her 15 year old teenage daughter and husband had had their first terrible blow out. She was worried they would never have a trusting, loving relationship. The other mothers present assured her it was all normal growing pains and if it had taken this long for them to have this type of interaction, they were probably going to be just fine, probably even better than fine.
Many years ago the New York Times ran an article about the happiness level of parents. The researcher reported that in general the parents of teenagers were unhappier than parents at any other stage. I don’t remember being unhappy when my children were teenagers but I do know that now that they are adults, I thoroughly enjoy their company and that of their spouses. It’s pure joy when I have the opportunity to spend time with them. I think what we spend our money on reflects on that which we consider to be important and I’d rather spend my money on events that bring us all together than on anything else.
Today when I see a young family together I want to run up to them and tell them it’s a “short long journey.” I want to embrace them and shake them and make sure they know it and tell them to savor every moment of it. Motherhood is work. It’s painful and it’s challenging. It’s demanding and it’s tiring. It’s frustrating and it’s confusing. As a young mother I was never around extended family. Our first move was when my oldest was 6 weeks old. Our second move five years later was when my middle child was 18 months old and then ten years after that, we moved when Ellen was just three. I never had a support system. Every time we moved, I was completely on my own. I didn’t have a clue how very hard it was but looking back I can see how hard it was. Each time we moved, I had to create a new support system. It was easier sometimes than others. It was exciting to go to a new place but it was also lonely. Our last move brought us here to North Carolina over 25 years go. We began again. Now, I live close to most of my family.
My oldest girl, Melissa and her kind, loving husband, Larry and my four grandchildren live about 2 miles away. My son, Joey and his beautiful (inside and out) wife Belen also live close and I’m blessed to still have my husband of 45 years. My youngest and her sweet husband, Adam are in London but I’m optimistic about the future.
My years of motherhood are not over. Once a mother, always a mother but this stage of being the mother of adult children is for me a rich blessing. While the children were growing, I was too busy with the cares of life and daily activities to savor all the precious moments they offered me but now, I can relish each moment. I can relax in their company. When I was doing my Master of Social Work I decided I would ask each of them, all adults at that time, how I did as a mother. Truly, this has been my life’s work. I wondered how they felt I did. When I look back I remember each of their births. I remember all the times they were sick and needed care. I remember all those miles in the car to different sporting events or classes. I remembered making dinner almost every night. I remember reading stories and grabbing hugs and kisses as often as possible. I remember helping with homework and visiting schools. I remember helping find colleges and going to ceremonies. I remember a home that I always hoped felt safe and secure. I welcomed their friends and eventually their spouses. I encouraged them to follow their dreams and listened when life went a different way. I hadn’t had any training and other than my wonderful husband, I hadn’t had any family around to guide me but it appeared I’d done alright. What did they think? I was curious and I was brave.
Yes, it’s been a “long short journey.” If I could do it again what would I change? If I were as wise at 20, 30 or 40 as I am now, what would I do differently? I’d not clean the house so often. Occasionally I’d have cereal for dinner instead of taking time to cook each evening. I’d read even more stories, hold hands even more often. I’d sit and just listen whenever they wanted to tell me something. I’d know this moment will soon be gone and I’d treasure it for the gift it was.
They were kind to me when they answered my question. That response alone was an answer in itself. I’d done ok. I must have done ok. Sandy, my hubby, and I must have done well. They’re still hanging out with us. In fact as I write this it’s almost Mother’s Day and the family and Sandy have gifted me with flowers, cards, a rice cooker and most importantly, time together. Yes, I might change the way I did some things, go slower, be more mindful but I wouldn’t change choosing to be a mother, especially to these three remarkable people. I’ve been blessed and at least now I can go slower and relish each and every moment I get to spend with them.
Happy Mothers Day!