Wednesday, May 8, 2013

'Just wait until you have kids of your own..."

When my mother said this to me years and years ago, I wasn't  sure if it was a threat, a warning or a premonition. Maybe a little of all three. I didn't get it. I couldn't have gotten it. I was just a kid whose life revolved around me and who couldn't see any further into the future than a psychic with short-term memory loss. And now, here I am decades later, saying the same thing to my kid.

It's not so much a warning or a threat. It's more of a wistful plea that someday, at some point, he'll look at me and say, "I get it, Mom." That someday he'll realize why I am the way I am. Why I worry. Why I nag. Why I persist. Why I pray. Why I drive him crazy and he drives me the same.
This is me. Now you know why Mom encouraged my writing.
It's amazing the circle of life. Not a day goes by that I don't think of my mom with awe at how she got (and still gets) through some of the things we kids put her through - and there are four of us! I remember when it dawned on me why she took baths in the middle of the day. It made NO sense back then - I mean, who lounges in the tub for an hour at 2:00 in the afternoon? An overwhelmed, overextended mom with four kids, that's who. Thirty years later I say, "DUH" as I sit crouched in the laundry room quietly pouring my second glass of wine before dinner hoping my two won't discover me next to the pile of dirty socks and underwear.

"Just wait until you have kids of your own." It's the only recourse moms have. That someday, when their kids are older and procreate they'll have that almighty "aha moment" and realize that mom wasn't the blithering idiot they thought she was all along. But it's not so much the satisfaction we'll gain in finally having our kids understand all of our worries and fears despite their best attempts to reassure us that they "know what they're doing." (We sure as HELL know they don't know what they're doing. But the only way they're going to KNOW what they're doing is NOT know what they're doing and make a mistake so they KNOW how to do it in the future.)

But I digress.

Above and beyond all that "mom knows best" stuff, "Just wait until you have kids of your own" to me means that you will never, ever know how much you can love another human being until you have a child of your own. You cannot ever imagine the amount of joy, pain, pride, frustration, hope and worry that someone can can cause you to have until you are responsible for the rise of this child from innocent infant to tempestuous teen to (hopefully) admirable adult. You can't fathom that for once you will not have all the answers and that you will more often than not question your validity as a parent yet you will still be compelled to tell your child that you do know best even when you're not sure you do.

"Just wait until you have kids of your own" is no different than the quote (paraphrased), "Being a mother is deciding to forever have your heart go walking around outside your body." It's going from being able to completely focus on one task to doing ten things at once and knowing at a drop of a hat that your son is right now giving a presentation in 4th hour and saying a quick prayer that his nerves are calm and he doesn't have toilet paper stuck to his shoe. It's the difference between cheering on your favorite sports team and making a deal with God that you'll never ever say another curse word again if your son connects with the ball just this one time. It's watching him drive down the street and holding yourself back from running alongside the car shouting for him to wear his seat belt, use his turn signal and watch for deer.

No child knows how overwhelming it is to be a mother. And I don't mean overwhelming in just a negative sense, because for every hour of angst there can be sixty seconds of joy that completely negates that other 59 minutes - do you know what I mean? If you're a mother you do.

If not, just wait. 


  1. We SERIOUSLY need to get together for coffee, lunch, whatever. I find myself currently unemployed for 2 more weeks, so my schedule is open. When I have to read your blog to find out how things are going at your house, THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG.

    P.S. The verification thing-y wanted me to type "Harrold." So I typed "Harrold is a douchebag." If you are reading this, it worked!

  2. I will totally understand if you don't want to post my previous comment, but...seriously, blogspot? SERIOUSLY??? That's the best you can do in the way of "security?" ;)

    This time it wanted me to type, "and." So I typed "and Mary is a douchebag as well." And it worked. I don't see this comment being published either. :D

  3. Ok, here's one that should be printable.

    Two weeks into my first "real" job after college (working with "emotionally disturbe, pregnant or mothering, teenage girls who are also DCFS wards."

    Seriously, that's the ad in the paper I answered. ANYWAY....two weeks into the job I walked up to my mom, gave her a HUGE hug, and said, "Mom? All those times I was an ass to you? I'm SO, SO, SORRY." The look on her face was undescribable.

    What I'm saying is, I was a HUGE jerk, and I finally got it. So it can happen. And you seriously know what classes your kids are in, all day long? That in itself is amazing.


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