Being My Mother

Being My Mother May 15, 2006

My Mom always sends me the nicest Mother’s Day cards. And for years I’ve been rather puzzled by this as she is, after all, my mother and not the other way around. (As my husband Mark would say: “Of course I didn’t get you a card! You’re not MY mother . . . .”)

Every year my Mom usually writes something in her card thanking me for making her a mother (my other four siblings were nice, of course, but I was first). I keep meaning to point out that, in actuality, I had nothing to do with my own birth . . . but who ever wants to have that conversation with your mother, you know what I mean?

This year Mom included with her card a picture of her with all five of us. Don’t you agree that she looks tired? Frazzled? Stunned by where life has landed her? I kind of thought so when I saw it (but knowing me I was probably projecting).

The funny thing is, when we talked today she told me she’d made copies of the picture to send to all of us because looking at this picture–a picture of a mother surrounded by all her kids–well, it makes her . . . happy.

That’s what she said . . . happy.

Then she went on to tell me that being a mother is the crowning achievement of her life.

And it is here that I encounter personal crisis.

I love my kids; those of you who read this blog are probably sick and tired of reading about them, in fact. But I’ve never been a real Earth Mother kind of gal. I couldn’t wait for babyhood to end; independence is encouraged in my world; if you skin your knee at my house you are more likely to get a lecture about how life is hard than an hour of back patting on the couch. Discussions of breastfeeding bore me; PTA meetings are my own personal torture; snow days or school vacations send me into a panic.

It’s terrible, I know, but I did not get my mother’s mother gene (my sisters did, but that’s another bitter blog entry).

This is what I was thinking today when I came home from church to a felt-covered pencil holder, a hand-stitched bookmark and this card (pictured here).

Now, I know in my head that I am not a mushy maternal individual, but looking at the carefully lined up handiwork that will clutter my office for years to come, I felt a strange stirring in my heart. It’s the same stirring I feel when I am greeted with a joyous “MOM!” most days after arriving home from work . . . or the warm happiness that floods over me like hot fudge when I hear an excited recounting of baseball field feats.

I’m shocked to admit it, and I’ll probably never hear the end of it, but this Mother’s Day I have to say I might just be a little bit like my mother. I mean, I’ve come to a kind of peace that I will never live for the maternal role, and I freely and enthusiastically embrace the frazzled nature of life as a mother.

But I guess today I have to agree with Mom that there’s something about being surrounded by my kids, something about the utter honor of being a mother that makes me . . . happy.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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