“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.” ~Linda Wooten
As women (and you men know just what I am talking about if the switch has ever flipped in your presence), there is often a point in many of our lives that we decide or rather feel the sudden need that we want to become a mother. When this happened for me, I may have gone a little Koo-Koo, ok, I absolutely when Koo-Koo. I was almost pregnant several times (read: in my head, thank goodness for the all the information out there about pregnancy symptoms, I managed to create almost all of them at one point or another before I learned I could not in fact get pregnant naturally) and I had visions of me with my baby. In my visions, I was cuddling my baby on the couch and holding my sleeping baby as it nestled in my arms (there is no doubt I was reading too much conception information and relating entirely too much to every baby commercial on TV). Obviously, as I went through IVF and prematurely delivered the wee ones, things were anything but picturesque, except for one part, the part where I became a mother. The love I feel for my babies is unlike anything I could watch in a commercial or read about in a book or magazine. It is by far the most pure and untapped emotion I have known and I can safely say that here I am not alone.
As I was on the phone last night with my own mother (Gigi, is what the minis call her, well, not yet. But it’s what we call her for them until they can say it on their own), my heart smiled as my mom got her silly on. As Q brought the phone close to his face to kiss it, my mom started making funny kissing noises that sounded like a small dog and cookie monster talking at the same time. Q immediately started giggling the most precious giggle. I couldn’t help but giggle along with him. With E in my arms as she was finishing her bottle, I held the phone up to her. She smiled her gigantic smile and threw herself back as she does when she feel excited. I relished in this moment. The silliness. When I was little, things were hard for my mom. She was single, very young and had 2 then 3 kids. As she sought to be our mom, she sought to find herself. I seemed to understand this at a young age but her true personality and zest for life was frequently masked by worry and fear. To be a mom, along with the joy you feel, you can also feel fear of failure, guilt about not doing “enough,” spending enough time, and you ultimately push yourself more and more to be selfless. To do this all while you are worried about money, putting food not he table, working and hoping to find a partner in life, makes things even harder and ultimately some of that silliness and light-heartedness must sit in the background. Don’t get me wrong, we had moments where my mom’s spontaneity and zest of life shone through and these times were such fun but to see her now as a grandma makes me realize just how much lightness there was to her that I never knew as a child. To me she was strong, a fighter and a survivor. She was also my mom and things were as they were but looking back I can qualify her as these things and say that she loved us powerfully but love can sometimes make you frail. Now as a mother, I know just what this means.
As a grandma, I don’t have to use words like strong, fear, or survival, I can use words like fun, silly and supportive. I can watch and listen to her being silly and my heart smiles. As I try to be silly with E & Q I am challenged to find my own balance. With all the things that are going on with us, around us, I want to make sure I am giving them the light in the heart so that we laugh often and loud. I struggle with how to not let my worry and fears, mostly about E, overwhelm me and I try to use the strength from the love I find in these silly moments of playing on the floor or laughter from the tickle monster to be in the moments without letting these other things creep in. As mothers, our minds are always working, working overtime (is there a way to monetize this, I mean honestly, it is a full time job:)). Are we doing enough, finding balance, making the wee ones happy, husbands happy, partner happy, exes happy (if you share custody), in-laws happy, future in-laws happy, teachers happy, nannies happy, friends happy, and the list goes on. Did you notice in there, that as it happens there is often not a mention of making ourselves happy? As women, and mothers, we often focus so much on those around us can that we forget we can laugh and be silly and light and we don’t have to take the weight of the word on our shoulders. I can see now through my grown up eyes what this must have been like for my own mom and is shows me her strength.
In our journey I have had to dig deep to find strength and deal with my fears, most of which I could not have dreamed of knowing; but that said, in doing this I have learned so much, grown so much and become so much more aware. While like everyone, I struggle to find the balance, I know I am truly doing the best I can. A major part of this, while seemingly insignificant in the grand scheme of things but I think to be oh so important, is that I make conscious decisions each day to get on the floor with my children. To take time out away from my phone (very hard to do), computer, to-dos and chores and just make them laugh. Whether it’s me munching on their chunky monkey thighs or calling Gigi to give them some laughter their silliness allows me to be silly. I can then use these feelings of happiness as the strength from my happiness allow myself to do something for me (this is something I do internally battle with especially when I am working) Whether it’s writing, taking a shower, taking a walk or watching my guilty pleasures on TV so that I too can try to be a whole person to give to them. To me now, at this point in my life, this is what is means to be a mother, do really just do the best I can. In watching my babies with Gigi, I know all of this will continue to evolve and I will be a different person at 55 than I am now at 37, but I can also to look to my mom as a great example of finding happiness and light. Sitting, figuratively between my babies and my mom as sources of light gives me great hope to continue to make each day ‘mynewfavoriteday’. If you have a mother that you can speak to, remind her today that she is special to you for it will mean more to her than you know. If you are a mother, be a little extra silly today (that is unless you have teenagers which will make you even more embarrassing than you already are;), perhaps just some sort of affection that they will tolerate will do, the happiness of the interaction may inspire you. To be a mother is the most challenging job and rewarding gift I have had the opportunity to know in my life thus far and just having had the pleasure of smiles, giggles, spontaneous hugs, kisses, mamas, eye contact, reaching for me, and cuddles brings me joy on a daily basis. Although, I am no longer toddling around as a child to give my own mom these joys, today I want to say thank you to my own mom who helped give me the foundation to become the mother I am today. I love you and I hope this helps make today ‘yournewfavoriteday’.