Not Possessing the Qualifications But Willing to Learn
It's really hard to write about loving my role as a mother without artificially glorifying the experience. So many clichés come to mind, like "it's the little things," or "my children are my world." While both of these phrases are true, they somehow fail to capture the whole experience for me. Just one of many roles I play, being a mother was the only role that I assumed without any real training, few skills, and an appalling lack of talent.
Fortunately, babies are too young to realize we are learning as we go. Initially, on the interpersonal level, they seem like one big digestive tract with a bone-chilling alarm system. So you work hard to conquer the feeding and cleaning routine, and you realize that sleep, that thing you did freely all your life, has now become a winsome memory. I think each mother has something that rallies her from what she must see as an 18-year sentence of hard work and drudgery. For me, it was those first smiles. Sometimes accompanied by a coo, a giggle, or a heartwarming belly laugh, there was nothing more validating. Or perhaps challenging? Not only do you have to care for their little bodies, you likewise need to care for even their earliest feelings. Maybe it is just as simple as realizing: this little human needs my guidance, but more so, I need hers. I bet we can figure this out together.
In the process of becoming a mother, I was discovering myself all over again.
The process uncovered things that I now articulate as truths for me. You have to empathize with people without crossing the line into pity. You have to be honest with yourself before you can ever be honest with someone else. You have to make sure your criticism does not include ridicule. You have to have a sense of humor, especially when things are not going well. You have to do your best to respect people, even when you disagree with them. Most of all, you have to know when to trade winning an argument so you can win over a heart.
I would say that of all the reading and studying I did about parenting, all the observations of other children, all the discussions I had with other mothers and respected elders, my children were still my best teachers. If I approached them with respect and honesty, they responded in kind. When I got edgy and snappish because of competing priorities, they responded in kind. Nothing keeps you on your toes more than an observant child.
So for me, I love being a mother because of the reciprocal relationship of parenting. It’s not just love, although that’s a big part of it; it is the intangible reward of knowing that if you survive all the dirty diapers, scraped knees, 2 AM feedings, bad dreams, silly fights, broken windows, hurt feelings, raging hormones – you might just find that you, yourself, have become a grown-up that you actually admire. Hopefully, your children still like you, too!