With the advent of Mother's Day earlier this week, I have been reflecting a lot lately on what it means to be a mom and what I enjoy about it. Some days, I have to tell you, the answer is a simple "not much." I know, I know, it's terrible, but there are those days (weeks, months...) where being called Mom seems like the rudest, most offensive name I can be called. It carries with it such need, such demand and such urgency. Sometimes it just sounds like a horrible accusation. Like being the mom means that I am to blame for all that is wrong in the world. And also I am responsible for fixing it.
It is during those times that I can lose track of just how magical and wonderful it is to be a mom. So I thought I would try to capture in words those moments when being a mom is truly a miracle.
Moment #1: The Middle of the Night Wake-Up Call
I know, right?? That does not sound like it would be first on the list of things that are great about being a mom. Whether it is for thirst, a nightmare, a fever, or heaven forbid a total vomit-fest, being woken up in the night is never my favorite thing when it happens. I am not that soft-voiced, understanding mom who gently leads her children back to bed with a comforting kiss. I wish I was. I am usually more like a poked bear. A raging, maniacal poked bear. At best, I stomp and murmur and fix whatever is wrong so that I can get the heck back to sleep. At worst, well, let's just say...it can be much, much worse.
My 10 year old just woke me at about 3 in the morning a few days ago complaining that her ear was hurting. (Earlier that night, right about at bedtime, it was her right hip that was bothering her.) I was pretty well less than patient the first time she woke me and I sent her back to bed with a heating pad. The second time, probably a half hour later, I found some ear drops that we had and put those in for her before sending her back to bed. Again, not super patiently.
In my 18 years as Mom I have been dragged out of bed countless times for myriad reasons, either real or imagined. In all these years, I have probably received an equal if not lesser amount of full uninterrupted night's sleeps as not. But the one thing that all of those sleep-jarring events have in common is that in the night, a child has awoken and the one person in the world they wanted was me. The one person that they trust wholly and completely to comfort their fears, to fix their ills, to er...clean up their puke, to make everything right is me. Their mom. I am that one. To 4 little people in this world, I am that one. And that is pretty special.
Moment #2: The Hand-Hold
Most of you who have small children, or who remember when their children were small will recognize exactly this moment. You are walking along, in the store, on a sidewalk, at the park, wherever it may be, and your child falls behind. It's just a few steps. You can hear them behind you. They are close and you know that they are safe. You're not at all worried and you maybe only glance back once or twice just to make sure all is well. At some point, you hear them coming just a little bit closer and you hold your hand out behind you. You don't look back, and you don't say a word. Maybe a few seconds passes, maybe it's as long as a minute, but at some point that tiny little hand grabs onto yours and that child comes up to walk beside you. It is one of my favorite moments of all time. The absolute trust you have that they will see your hand and grab onto it. The knowing for them that your hand will be there for them to hold.
From that very first grasp when they wrap their tiny fingers around yours as a new infant to the forced you-will-hold-my-hand-whether-you-want-to-or-not in a crowded place where you don't want to lose them, to the sweaty nervous hand hold when you go to register them for school, or take them to tour a college campus, there is something very special about that hand hold. It brings measureless comfort to you both. And that is pretty amazing.
Moment #3: They Love Me Anyway
If you haven't figured out by now that I am far from being the perfect mom, well, you can always just ask my kids. They'd be happy to tell you. I make more mistakes than any mom should rationally be allowed to make. I've been making them for 18 years, and I have no doubt that I will continue to make them for many more. Probably forever. I've been called the worst mom ever more times than I can count. I've been screamed at, ridiculed, kicked, and bit. I've even received very articulate letters about the poor job I am doing as a mom. (Very. Articulate.)
The crazy thing? These very same small humans who scream at me, kick me, bite me, write me letters, and tell me I'm the Worst Mom EVER, love me more than anyone in the world. They know me. They know my every flaw, every imperfection. They have seen me in my darkest hours, at my physical and my emotional worst. And they still love me. And cherish me. And trust me. They know exactly who I am. And they love me anyway. And that is pretty miraculous.