Now that all of the United States is recovering from the fun and excitement of Mother’s Day, I’d like to just say that my Mother’s Day was one hell of a mutha. As in, gee thanks, let’s not do that again for a long time. And then, this morning, I got chapter two. Yay me. But I really do try to live in a better moment, so I’m cranking up Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” and refusing to be spinning wildly out of control for another moment. Or at least until the youngest comes upstairs. Because my kiddos can send me spinning from happy to crazy in no time at all.
I’m a fan of full disclosure so I’m going to go out on a limb and admit that somedays I really don’t like being a mom. I love being three little people’s mother, but I don’t like being the mom. Sound insane? Well, I suppose it is. But then, that’s how I’m feeling right about now, so it’s all fitting.
Let me explain. This is “Oldest” who just turned 10. His birthday is always the most wondrous of days in my year. It supersedes my own birthday by a thousand-fold. Because at 12:03 am on May 5th, 2000 I became a mother. I finally met the little person I had wished for, prayed for, worried for, paced for, lived for. I became a mother and before that moment I had never known just how much of my own childhood I had missed by being too serious, too worried, too “me” to enjoy being a kid. Oldest has taught me to look at life again for the first time and to take chances — whether to blow bubbles on a spring day before the rain clouds come back, or to bare my heart to another person who may or may not hold it safely in the palm of his hand. On one prenatal visit my midwife told me, “Isn’t it amazing to think you are responsible for making another person’s memories?” And this responsibility has weighed upon me since then. Will his good memories out-number his bad memories? Will I, in the end, be judged as a good mother to this boy of mine? He, who is so much like me, and yet nothing like me. For Oldest is far smarter than I ever was on my finest learning moment, funnier than I ever am during my best comedy set. But Oldest’s greatest gift is that he will always be my first. My first “mommy” kiss. My first baby boy. Thank you Oldest. You made me your mother and I thank you for that.
And there is my Middlest. Born just five days before my 35th birthday, my Middlest has always been such a gift to me, my husband, my extended family, my world. She is the kindest child I have ever met and others agree with me. She was my “easy” baby, my “easy” toddler, my “easy” everything. I figure the hormonal years are going to be hard for us seeing as how she has been so easy in her early years. But what a joy-filled ride it will be with Middlest. She dances, paints, sings, hugs, plays, and cares for everyone. She is a great little sister and an even better big sister. And she is the absolute sunshine of my world. She is also the first to be sad if I’m sad, the first to apologize for her brothers’ transgressions. The first to melt down over anything from misplaced Littlest Pet Shops, unwashed favorite shirts, sad news from foreign soils.
Thank you Middlest for giving me bouquets of flowers before I pull them as weeds, smiles when I can’t muster up one in return, and a place in your heart. You came when I finally accepted that some things are out of my control. You healed my sad heart over losing the pregnancy before you, and you continue to heal my heart every time you tuck your hand in mine.
You will always be my very favorite Middlest ever. Now and when you have to remind me of who and where I am. My only hope for you is that you someday have a person in your life who makes you as happy as you make me.
And then, there is Littlest. My little dare-devil. My little “make my heart leap over and over again.” You have always been surprising me, every since that first moment. I’ve come to think of you as the gift I would never have thought to ask for but am so thankful for your having come into my life. Thank you Littlest. You were the “botched umbilical cord,” the stitches before one year, the “Mom! He’s climbing the book case again!” baby who has changed me more than the others. So determined to be part of everything, you just clamber up and join us. I love your tenacity, your passion, your compassion. Like Middlest, you have a big heart. Like Oldest, you are brilliant. And like your siblings, you are nothing like anyone else I know and yet oddly familiar. The same smile, the same way of wrapping your arms about my neck and making me feel like the luckiest mom in the world. You are my Littlest blessing and I am oh so blessed.
I really am blessed. I know it and I feel it. My babies are healthy, good natured, polite, kind, smart, and funny. They are the best things my husband and I ever did and I would choose to have them all over again.
And yet, somedays I just hate being a mom. Actually, I hate being the mom I sometimes am. The mom who loses her temper or cries over unreasonable requests. The mom who just can’t do more than pour cold cereal and skim milk for dinner.
Mothering, for me at least, has too many moments of spinning wildly out of control. Perhaps I am a broken gyroscope and I can’t find my direction because I am too close to the spinning. Perhaps from the outside it all looks normal or fine. But here, right next to the chaos, it feels like too much some days.
Like yesterday when Oldest started by being disappointed in the Mother’s Day card he was making for me and ended by yelling at me that it was all basically my fault. Or like today when Littlest wanted Cheese Its, no make that Goldfish Mom, and then proceeded to crush the only Cheese Its in the house all over the carpet because they weren’t Goldfish.
When these things happen on my good days, I am able to laugh, cajole, or give the needed space. But on one of my bad days, it just wrecks me. And when I am wrecked, all my kiddos are wrecked a bit as well.
Last night, I asked Oldest to cuddle with me and talk about our day. After a few minutes of discussing how both of us could have helped one another not be so upset earlier, Oldest said to me, “But Mom, you are the best mom you can be.”
And that is perhaps the best gift I could have ever asked for on Mother’s Day or any day. Having my child remind me that parenting is a process and giving our best is the best we can do. We are the best mothers we can be just as we are the best children we can be. Maybe tomorrow we will be better. Maybe not. But we are the best we can be in this moment.
Today may not be Mother’s Day, but if you are a mother or have a mother, I hope you have the best day you can have. And thank you – just having put these words down have helped me center the wild spinning gyroscope of me. I’m still spinning wildly, just not as out of control as earlier. And I just might find my direction on this day. You know, “I Gotta Feeling” today will be a good one after all.