Reflections on Motherhood
In my experience being a mother is both the greatest gift and the biggest ask. Mothers have a lot of responsibility and parenting doesn’t come with a manual. You figure it out as you go. You discover what works by making mistakes, owning them and course correcting. Sometimes mothers catch a lot of flack for messing up. Our kids expect us to be impeccable, until they don’t.
Mothers do the behind the scenes work like stagehands dressed in black who scurry around in the dim light during set changes. They make sure things flow. Mothers hold the big picture and a zillion small details. We keep the fridge stocked, cook food, bake birthday cakes, get up at the crack of dawn to drive our kids to sports events and dance competitions and when we hear our child passionately calling, “Mooooom!” we rush to capture the terrifyingly huge spider lurking in the hallway outside our child’s room (this is a regular event in our hillside home).
We are unmasked superheroes who scratch backs at bedtime, miraculously retrieve precious lost items (Meera often says, “Mom, how is it that I’ve looked and looked and you find things in one second?”) We gently hold our children when they are overwhelmed or in tears at the latest friend drama and we endure the “push away” when we go to hug them and instead are rejected. I love this one myself…it hurts a little and I totally get it. My almost sixteen year-old daughter is setting boundaries with me.
Mothers fill out the back to school forms, take their children to see healers when they are sick, plan family trips and set boundaries (not the most glamorous job). In adolescence, we listen quietly as they rant and we smile at their joy. Silence invites them to reveal what is happening inside.
When I’m quiet, Meera shares her reflections and struggles and I drink her in. I’ve learned that with teenagers, it’s not necessary to respond to every comment. It’s humbling to realize that although my work in the world is to reflect and advise, my daughter mostly wants me to be silent.
When children are young, mothers are seen as larger than life and eventually, the bubble of omniscience bursts and we are recognized to be merely human. We miscalculate distances and forget that traffic is thick and it takes twice as long to go from our home to Sacramento on a Friday afternoon (yes, I did that recently while enroute to a dance competition. We were running late and the competition was running an hour early and Meera and her friend had to jump out of the car and perform in less than ten minutes. Yup, it’s true and there was “legit” hell to pay.
We are oh so human and I’ve sent texts with typos which caused confusion and have to repeatedly implore my daughter to bring her dirty cereal bowls and sticky tomato sauce laden dishes upstairs from her room so that rodents will not mistakenly assume her bedroom is an all night deli.
We mothers do our best and I have been known to react loudly and act irrationally. My wise daughter knows exactly which buttons to push when it comes to her mom. Mothers love their children unconditionally regardless of whether or not they get straight A’s or are the best player on the tennis team.
What is helpful to me during this potent time of adolescence is to forgive my daughter a lot. I let things go, endure her snarky impatience with me and celebrate her blossoming. I have space for her to forget to text me back, occasionally use poor judgment and omit the truth (all teens lie sometimes since it helps them individuate.)
Mostly, I just love my girl as she is and am blown away by her strength, courage and insight. And, upon receiving her hand-made Mother's Day card dripping with love and appreciation, my heart melted once again. Our love for one another runs deep beyond what I could have imagined.
I send my blessings to all the mothers out there who are learning and growing alongside their incredible children. Mothering humbles us like nothing else I’ve encountered so far. I bow my head to the amazing invitation that presents itself as I steward my precious daughter into the realm of young womanhood.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash