The absolute God’s honest truth is I never thought I’d make a very good mother. For me, it just didn’t seem to be that “natural” talent that comes to some women, even before they have kids of their own. In my teenage years I had no interest in babysitting and therefore did it only once, when friends of my parents were really stuck. Oh boy, I don’t remember much but I do know I couldn’t wait for that evening to end. I would have blissfully dog-sat or cat-sat or horse-sat any day of the week but kids? Notsomuch.
I guess I was in too much of a hurry to enter the adult world to worry about children, their needs and wants and really, who cares? That was me. I had several pals who were kid-magnets. Mommies-in-the-making. Naturals.
Not I. I didn’t even think about a biological clock until I was in my 30s and even then, the clanging was in no way thunderous. But I got married and a kid was part of that mandate (notice I said A kid cause one was all I ever promised) so I dutifully got pregnant. And immediately miscarried. Same for pregnancy Number 2. Number 3 held on a bit longer (three months) but didn’t go the distance either.
At that point I was thinking this might be a sign from The Universe. “Hey Vic, you’re just not a mother, okay? Go get another puppy and be happy.” I was a little sad but resigned. Who am I to argue with The Universe?
And then came my son. Yep, Number Four was the winner. He went (almost) the distance and arrived at 8 months, kicking and screaming and pooping and nursing all the time. I was really tired but really happy.
And then sometimes I was bored. Because after he was done kicking and screaming and pooping and eating and after he’d had his bath and had a clean diaper and was snoozing contentedly in his pram, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was so used to having a job and a “purpose” I did not know what to do with myself that was worthwhile. Those idle moments scared the hell out of me. So I took on a new hobby that wouldn’t in any way detract from mothering, when mothering called. I got really really good at Super Mario. My husband would come home from work and I would brag about our son’s latest poop and my latest level.
I still didn’t think I was that great a mother. I mean seriously, what kind of amazing mother devotes her energies to excelling at Super Mario in her son’s first 6 months?
Maternity leave ended (damn brief back in those days) and I was back to work full-time. Sad to leave my baby, yes and happy to be back in the land of adults. Yes.
For reasons far too complicated to expound on here, I ended up leaving full-time employment when my son was 6 and I did begin to devote more time to his pursuits. I volunteered at his school. I planned play-dates and excursions. I socialized with fellow-mommies and I tried to be a good one. It just wasn’t a natural calling. I watched those other mommies effortlessly do whatever effortless mommies do and I never quite felt I measured up. I was more “crazy mommy” or sometimes “fun” mommy. Like when I pulled my son out of school for an entire Tuesday so that we could be first at the theatre to catch the debut Pokemon movie.
But I was never “mother mommy.” Even my son would inadvertently extol the virtues of his friend’s mothers, saying something like “Mom, you should taste the spaghetti she makes … it is the best! I mean, yours is good but she is just one of those MOTHERS who are, you know, like MOTHERS.”
Yeah. I got it. I was one one of those mothers who was like not mothers.
One time when my teenage son had a friend visiting and they were in and out of the kitchen demanding snacks, with their pants hanging precariously close to their knees, I informed them that if they entered the kitchen thusly one more time I too would pull my yoga pants down to my knees. When the friend’s mother arrived to fetch him I explained this to her, and when both those boys entered the kitchen displaying their gotchies (much to their own amusement), she (bless her FUN heart) and I both stood and dropped our pants. BOTH of us. Displaying (much to to the boys’ horror) – lacy thongs.
See what I mean? Fun mother. Crazy mother. Just not mother mother.
I will also admit that my mothering skills took a hit when I decided to end my marriage. I mean really, what kind of GOOD mother walks away? I was told more than once that I sucked. And you know how it goes? When you are told more than once that you suck it’s pretty easy to start believing that you just might suck. Especially when the one and only father of your child is actually being considered for sainthood, that’s how un-sucky he is.
It’s all been a bit of a broken record in my life. I know I am a good friend. A good daughter. A good sister, a good employee, a good girlfriend and a good person. But the mother thing? I was never quite sure.
And then there was last night. Shortly before midnight to be precise. I go to bed early, a fact about which my son is well aware. I am often fully ensconced in dreamland by 9pm. But last night shortly before midnight I received a text from my kid. He has his own text-tone so I knew it was him and I immediately sat up in a panic, afraid of what might be.
“Mom, wake up and listen to this!”
Yeah, okay, I’m awake now and profoundly so, heart beating wildly. Listen to what?
He then texts me a video with just audio (if that makes any sense). He is in the studio and he and his co-writers have just written a song and they’ve laid down a rough demo and he is SO excited about this new song he HAS to share it with his mother at midnight on Tuesday even though he knows she is fast asleep. He knows I will want to hear it. And he wants my opinion. Even if it means waking me up at midnight on a Tuesday night.
I am thrilled to the point of tears. I love the song. I truly do (and I always tell him the truth about music). But more than that I love that he is crazy, and fun, and breaks the rules, and knows that I am here for him no matter what, no matter when. I love that he wants me to hear the song RIGHT AWAY.
And then it hits me. Maybe I’m not a textbook mother? Maybe I’m not the mother my mother was to me? Maybe I’m not the Spaghetti Queen of Guelph (that would be impossible, given the number of lovely Italians in this town) and maybe I am simply not a “natural” in the traditional sense of the word?
Truth is maybe I’m not the best mother in the world.
What I am is the best mother in the world for Sam. For the path that he has chosen, for the gift that he has been given, for the man he is becoming and for the heart and soul and truth that he is demonstrating at every turn … I am the best mother in the world for Sam.
Thank you, Universe. I get it now.