When you become a mom, you clearly know you will have kids. Clearly. You think everything you learn will be based around children. But, one of the neatest blessings of becoming a parent is that it helps you in understanding your own. Being a parent gives you grace for your own mother and father and it gives you a whole heap of understanding for the who, what, and whys for what and how they did things concerning you. It also gives you a grasp on what all they went through and experienced that as a child, you just couldn’t have known. Here are a few things I know now about my mother simply by becoming one myself.
She cried when you left your blanket behind for good because you didn’t need it anymore. She cheerfully pumped you up for your first day at school, walked you in with a smile and then cried the whole way home. She encouraged you that things would be better after another child was cruel to you and let her heart break when she was alone. She choked up over the look of your sitting over your first birthday candle and she will cry all over again when she sees the pictures 25 years later. You always thought she was so strong and invincible and she was….but just for you.
Every time my oldest child comes home from pre-school with a precious piece of art work or homework where I can see her little handwriting blossoming, it’s just hard to part with. Now I understand why my mother saved my schoolwork. They are representations of a time when we were their little baby girl or boy and your mom saved them because she knew we wouldn’t always be.
You may never fully appreciate the old scribbly art that your own mother tucked in a faded folder and your child may never fully be endeared to that first sentence she wrote that you put in an album. That’s okay. Sometimes we save so that we can remember a time they were too young to really remember in the detail we could. We save for the same reason she did: because they are pieces of the children we never want to forget. It was never really just homework.
When she spanked your butt because you called her a booty old lady, she secretly thought it was funny and turned her face so you couldn’t see. Turn away to smile. Turn back around with a serious mom face. Punish. Call your best friend and laugh about it 20 minutes later.
She Was Rightfully Peeved By Things
Until you are a mom yourself, you don’t understand the value of silence. As a mother, I know now why she hated the sound of the T.V. playing with no one watching it (especially the commercials) and when the music was too loud in the car on a busy day.
The sound of you and your siblings fighting. This put her near insanity.
I know why sometimes she simply didn’t want me to have the neighbor kid over or a friend spend the night. She would answer with what I felt was a patronizing, “Um, not tonight.” I would get frustrated because I knew we would just sit at home and do nothing. Why couldn’t I have a friend over????!!!!
Oh. That was the point. Do nothing. Life is crazy busy with a family and crazy for the parents of the busy family. Let’s do nothing. Yes. Sounds good. No, sounds great.
She Meant That It Hurt Her More
When someone makes you mad in life, it’s easy to imagine jerking a knot in them. You want to ring their neck because they are ring neck-able. So, when you are a kid and your parents are angry and then go on to punish you, you can only imagine them enjoying the act down to their bones and back up again spewing it out in words of “time out” and “You’re grounded!”
Then you raise your own kids and sometimes, it hurts you to see them lose a privilege that hits them where it hurts: the party they can’t go to now or the special treat they had to return. Family doesn’t like disappointing each other and that swings both ways. I’ve even found myself thinking, “Please, just obey. I don’t want to have to punish you/take this from you etc.” Albeit a necessary evil, it’s definitely not fun to do and sometimes, hurts you, too.
I’ve even learned that sometimes disciplining them is like disciplining yourself. “Dang it, child,” you say in your mind, “I really wanted to go to pool today, too!” Sometimes in parenting, you are all losers. Just like sending your kid to school in winter without a coat (nervous laugh). We can lose lots of ways. All the time.
She Was Overjoyed
She was overjoyed when they held you up in the delivery room. Overjoyed when she saw you apologize to another child when she didn’t know you were looking. She beamed when she rolled that new surprise bike in for you on your birthday and maybe even more excited than you to give you your first kitten that afternoon.
When you made the team, met “the one”, passed the class you struggled through with a meager “C”, when you made that right choice that made it feel like all your hard work paid off, when you comforted your sibling, when you chose someone else over yourself on a regular day, and when you broke up with the wrong guy even though you loved him.
She swelled with more joy and pride in mothering you than you knew possible. She took joy in you and shared it in a way that you didn’t know could or was being shared that equally….
That is until the one day they hold your own wrinkly crying baby up at a hospital on a day she knows is not too far away.
She Was Nervous
Mothers are the master’s of, or at least try to be, master’s of braves faces. When you stuck your neck out and tried something new. When you got your license. When you were the new kid at school and went in on your first day. When she told you not to worry about how that kid would treat you at school today. When you were sick. When you picked that boy/girl to date. When you went out of town alone for the first time and drove there yourself. Picked the college 4 hours away. Wore the crazy outfit to school in the 2nd grade that she let you pick out knowing others might be mean…she was nervous.
She Didn’t Always Know
There is no textbook to parenting and dang it, you sort of figure it out with one and then you have a child that’s totally different! You saw your parents make all of these choices so confidently for you when you were a kid: where you would go to school, how to discipline you day to day, how to handle insecurities they saw in you, how to talk to you about your feelings, how to teach you to navigate all of the social facets of your young years, etc. Then, by golly, you have your own and you realize that a lot of times you are making choices and hoping you did the right thing…hoping you did the right thing to yield the result you are going for. Until you are a mother, you don’t really know that sometimes, she was guessing. She had to be. Just like you.
She knew you were going to get hurt because she knows that 5 year-olds fall off of beds when you were certain you wouldn’t as you sprang into the air. She knew that it hurt to be left out or feel “un-cool” but you were positive she “didn’t understand”.
“That was forever ago, mom! You don’t understand. It’s not the same!” Becoming an adult yourself lets you see, growing up overall is pretty universal.
She knew you peeked at the gifts but let you get away with it. She knew you didn’t still believe in Santa anymore but you both silently accepted to keep playing along. She knew you tried to clean up the nail polish you and your friend’s spilled on the carpet but she let it slide.
She knew he wasn’t right for you and that she wasn’t a good friend. She knew those mean girls were jealous and you thought she was crazy. Many days you thought SHE was, in fact, the mean one. And she knew you would feel that way, too. Why? Because she had a mother and was someone’s child.
And in all of this, more than anything, she knew that one day you would be typing on a computer somewhere with three girls stair stepped in age sleeping quietly in rooms around you and that you would sit down exhausted and know that she was right. Even when the trying years of raising you were in full throttle, she knew that one day, if you were lucky, you would know the depth of the joy, the hurt, the hope, the laughter, the weight of welling tears in your eyes, the heartbreak, the pride, and the sound of little ones playing in your ears that turn into the thudding footsteps of a grown child in the halls that is up way too late. She knows that your day will come when you will live what her heart always knew and she desperately wants this for you. Because now I know that the greatest gift she ever had was being your mom and I know that because I am one. Thanks, mom.