It’s one of the most common fears among women, perhaps even more frightening than grey hair and saggy skin: becoming their mother. I was absolutely determined that this would not happen to me. My mother, while a wonderful person, has always driven me crazy. (Don’t all moms make us a little insane at times?) Her little idiosyncrasies, like her complete inability to follow a sentence through to conclusion and her bad habit of working through an entire list of names before actually landing the name of the child she was addressing, were all on my list of “never to-dos.” And then, of course, I had kids.
I think the first moment of true appreciation for my mother came while I was expecting my first child. Suffering from a severe bout of morning sickness, my dad mentioned off-handedly that my mother had been equally sick the entire nine months of all three of her pregnancies. You don’t ever really stop to think that your mom carried you in her womb, fed you, and cared for you. It’s easy to take those things for granted, but it’s pretty amazing when you realize that your mother loved you long before you’re capable of remembering.
When I was delivering my daughter with my mother by my side, I knew that when she said, “I know it hurts,” she really did know, because she had hurt that same way to bring me into the world. I never realized how dedicated my mother was—she held my hand while I learned to walk, stayed up nights with me when I was sick, sat through countless recitals and PTA programs and then listened to me rant at her in my teenage furor, all without ever asking for anything in return. Only a parent could love like that.
Parenting is the most challenging job in the world and the repercussions of messing it up are much higher than, say, not meeting that Friday afternoon deadline. It isn’t for the faint of heart or the easily swayed. And until you have children of your own, you cannot comprehend how challenging and scary being a mother is. It’s the most amazing thing in the world, but it’s also the most stressful. I had so many plans for the kind of parent I wanted to be until reality set in, and then, all I really wanted to be was a good mom—just like my own mother had been, and still is. She is actually much smarter, braver and more caring than I had ever given her credit for. And I can only hope that my kids will say the same about me one day, even if they won’t realize it until they bring their own children into this world.
In 10 years of parenting, I have become more like my mother than I ever could have imagined.
I frequently stop speaking mid-sentence and completely forget what I’m talking about, and I’ve even dropped so low as to include our dog’s name while desperately trying to procure the correct child’s moniker. But I am proud to have inherited those dreaded qualities from my mom—in fact, it’s even a little amusing to see them annoy my children the exact same way they annoyed me. Now that I know what being a mom is really like, I understand. All things considered, it’s amazing my mom was able to ever finish a sentence.
So for my mother—I truly appreciate all you’ve done for me, from delivering me to helping me deliver, and becoming you is more fun than I ever imagined it could be. Thanks for everything.