As a little girl, I played with dolls, then Barbies, then babysat my real life brothers and sisters. Eventually I got to “play Mommy” to a classroom full of seven year olds. When the day came that Scott and I were “ready to take the parenthood plunge,” we found ourselves faced with the stumbling block of infertility. As I watched my sister and my brother have children, as I cried through every commercial on television that showed an infant or child, as I felt half crazy from numerous fertility medications, we forged ahead. We attended adoption seminars, I had two surgeries, and we kept trying. Three years later, I found out I was pregnant.
I imagined motherhood to be a combination of everything I had seen growing up…. A lovely combination of the Dick Van Dick show, The Brady Bunch, and The Partridge Family. In other words, I’d be a Mom who would be efficient, sing songs, provide delicious meals, volunteer at school, know all my kid’s friends, have heart-to-heart talks with my children, and basically have a running laugh track in the ceiling of my tastefully decorated house. Instead, I found I was severely sleep deprived for 5 months, and desperate for other adult contact. I missed my job, my co-workers, and the feeling that I woke up each day knowing I was competent (even excellent) at what I was doing. As much as I loved my new precious daughter, who smelled divine, who smiled at me, needed me, and who changed and amazed me daily, I also felt overwhelmed and in need of comrades. I packed up my new addition and hit Gymboree. Within a week, I had a playgroup, new Mommy friends, a Mom & Me workout group, and people who understood!
With baby #2, everything I had learned (and mastered?) got thrown out the window. Those great statements like “Use your words,” and “As soon as you clean up, THEN we can….” didn’t have power anymore. This new creature, called a “boy” was a different species. I learned about ADHD. Our pediatrician told me I needed to “run” our son daily like I would a puppy. All of a sudden, I found myself learning about skateboards, soccer, lacrosse, karate, dirt, mud, toy guns (made out of sticks or anything at all), and the new phrase, “Mom, watch me!” My son could make me laugh harder than anyone else. His antics were hysterical, sometimes scary, and always devilish.
When my children were little, I thought the job of mother ended when they turned 18. I mistakenly believed that they turned into adults and then I became a sort of “peer friend” who would always be their mother, but no longer needed to mother them. I laugh and choke on that belief today, as my 24 year old and almost 27 year old still require quite a bit of mothering. Is it just my generation? Us “helicoptering baby boomers” who can’t seem to stop hovering? Have we crippled them? I’m not sure. Of course I can look back and come up with things I would have done differently…like putting more emphasis on work and less emphasis on school. (Getting into the best college really doesn’t matter.)
Since I’m still in the mothering game, and I’m approaching sixty, it’s definitely a career. It’s been much more like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, than The Brady Bunch. Between the laughter, the sobs, the trips to the hospital, the moments when my daughter was on stage, or my son was on the field, the quiet times when they were by my side and I knew that for that one moment, everything was right……that’s motherhood. And I’m grateful that I get to continue the journey.