|Revenge of the Moms|
|May 12, 2013|
You know that episode of Deep Space Nine where Odo realizes he's a changeling and joins the Great Link that connects the consciousnesses of all other changelings? Becoming a parent is EXACTLY like that. True story: six months after Bug was born, I had an mind blowing, spiritual breakthrough where I finally understood everything every parent goes through. Suddenly, I either had very special X-ray vision that allowed me to see inside every parenting brain in existence or having kids turned me into Deanna Troi. I was a freaking empath! When their kids melted down in a grocery store, on an airplane, or on a street corner with overturned tricycle, I immediately knew exactly what the parents were thinking and how they were feeling. Because I could feel it, too. All of it.
Even more staggering to my former consciousness was that not only did I get other parents, but I also finally got my parents. I knew and felt everything my parents went through in raising us kids and that realization moved me to write: "I suddenly realize with shuddering clarity just how much my parents love us. I now know exactly what they went through. The worrying, the joy, the stress and anxiety, the laughing, the fear, the delight, the sacrifice." I finally understood what my parents were getting at when they said, "Just wait until you're a parent." Once again, they were right: there was no way I'd be able to get half the stuff they were dealing with if I hadn't ended up going through it myself. But most of all, I got the love. The deep, unquestioning, this-hurts-me-more-than-it-hurts-you, you-will-always-be-my-baby love.
But with all those squishy feelings there are also the less philosophical, less spiritual, more everyday elements of motherhood that exist on some sort of parental continuum that I'm bound to either by genetics or by humanity. These elements are just as important as the philosophical and the spiritual because they are the daily reminders of what my mom went through with the three of us. Like, when I'm rubbing my sore back and muttering "THIS is why Mom ordered us to pick up our room" as I bob up and down clearing planes, trains, and automobiles while trying vacuum my son's room. Or when Henry wriggles away from my embrace and I hear my mom saying, "Can you just stop squirming FOR A MINUTE and give me a real hug?" followed by, "Now you're just being stiff as a board, Stephanie." (That echo probably came from my teen years.)
Then there are those moments that have me I see red spots and feeling the flames threatening to engulf my entire being when I say, "How many times do I have to ask you to come to dinner/pick up your toys/sit still while I rinse your hair/stop counting mushrooms with your socks?!" Or whenever I am pushed to say "Because I said so!", "Because I'm the mommy!" or -- the final straw -- "AND THAT'S ALL THERE IS TO IT!"
The oft-repeated expression rings so true that I need to say it here yet again: motherhood isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. The big spiritual, philosophical moments are part of it, but they aren't the whole of motherhood. In fact, on average motherhood is largely comprised of the daily routine that can grind you down, wear you out, and flop you into bed at 8:03 PM. Getting through those days by using the expressions you heard your mother say and swore you'd never say yourself is the part of the marathon where your body and brain are screaming at you to stop. You've given your all, but still you push through. You push through the pain, through the exhaustion, through the cramping, because once you hit the second wind that rides in on a giggle, an ecstatic hug, or an unexpected "I love you, Mama," you leave all that pain, exhaustion, and cramping behind.
What I'm really trying to say here is, thanks Mom. I love you, too.
(Especially now that I know you weren't really trying to pull my hair when you washed it.)