I just noticed the post on eating out for Mother's Day...and it reminded me that the Universe already arranged the BEST Mother's Day present I could hope for. My daughter finishes her first semester away at college on the 11th of May...so she'll be home for it! The last few months have been a mad whirl of experience and emotions for both of us. Desi's first two years were in a community college...so the last few weeks were a lot of "firsts" for her, bad and good combined.
1. She got to spend her "first" weekends alone...where every moment was her choice.
2. She got her first flu three weeks into the semester. I sent her with some OTC stuff---but it ran almost a week. My mom instincts were in critical...I needed to do SOMETHING...she was sick...and three hundred miles away. (Solution? The oriental place in town delivered quarts of chicken soup...I found a listing on Yelp for her town!) So it was more symbolic than practical...it made us BOTH feel better.
3. She went through her first exams---alone.
4. After years rarely more than a few miles apart, we were suddenly not THERE. You can type a hug...you can even pronounce one...but nothing FEELS like a hug but arms...and so we both had some growing to do.
5. All sorts of stuff went wrong from day one...and I've always been the fixer. I've always been Momma Lion...only now she had to do it for herself. When the state of NJ didn't send the report she needed to be approved for a teaching practicum, she figured out how to make it work without. I supplied encouragement...a little support via Skype...but it was ALL her. I found out that she's been watching my moves---and had a few I never would have considered. In short...she grew up.
Now the horrible, nervous confession...the thing I have never said, or written about out loud.
I always used to feel like a fraud on Mother's Day. Yes, I was a mom. Yes, I took care of, and loved my child...but I never felt...well...the day made me uncomfortable when I was the center of attention. I became a mom by intent--I chose to have a child, waited to do so...and actually THOUGHT about it. I was scared of it...of the commitment it represented. When We were pregnant, I was nervous about what sort of mother I would be. 24/7/365...no other job on earth asks that.
No sick days, no down time.
No pause button---no rewind. Just hit the ground running, and pray that you have what it demands...and it's ALWAYS going to be more than you expected. You can lose a job, and get another. You can switch a career, or start a new one. But being a mom? It's like Yoda said..."Do, or not do...there is NO "TRY". I discovered that when it came to my daughter, I had reserves I never dreamed of. I found out that things that I never would have done for myself, I could do...if she needed it.
I wasn't born brave. I faked it well, for years. But my daughter and her life's issues made me find courage I never knew I had. I stood up to bullies, and authorities. I educated myself in new launguages---and taught myself to navigate in places where I knew I was not welcome...because she needed not just a mom...she needed an advocate, and a friend at times. In less than two months, she will be 21. In two years, she will be a teacher. And as i count down the days til the semester ends, I find that I actually feel like a mother...a REAL mom.
Not a perfect one. Just...her mother. I am grateful, and happy for the woman she had become...anf hopeful for the future she will have. I stepped away...and she was better than fine. So for Mother's day this year, I get my daughter...for the first time with me by choice...not because she "had to." She's who she is...and that's enough for me. My daughter grew up. And so did I. Today, I feel a mom...and it only took me 20 years to get here!
The next part of being a mom is making peace with all the fears we ever had. It's learning to put the "what if's" to rest, not because nothing bad can happen---but because we got past the first years of them. Our kids don't need our fear...they have their own. Our worries and anxieties have no place in their personal baggage. I lost my father when I was just 17...and always regretted that he never got to see the "cool stuff" in my life.
Well...Desi is THERE. The cool stuff is happening right now. And I get to witness it...not always first hand...but it is strangely comforting to know that when she is happy, or heartbroken, I'm on her top five list for speed dial. The mom in me WANTS to be...but the woman in me? She knows that when your child trusts you...and believes they can give you truth without fearing recriminations...THAT is gold.
So Thank you, Desiree.
Today I am a mom...finally and at last...and you're the one who made it happen.