Just a couple of months ago I had the honor of being a part of a nationwide effort to “give motherhood a microphone”as a cast member of the inaugural Listen To Your Mother Show in Bangor. Our show was one of 39 cities across the country and through these shows over 450 stories about motherhood were shared just this year. Wow.
I’m not one to enjoy being up on stage, preferring to be more of a behind-the-scenes participant, but I was honored to share the stage with some amazing women in Bangor.
So here I am on stage. Try to disregard my double chin and awkward hand gestures 🙂
The Voice of Motherhood
Urgent scream from my son. Every single time he wakes up.
Complete with the eye-roll from my disgruntled or embarrassed eight-year-old.
I wuv you, Mama.
As my little boy places a hand on each side of my face and a sloppy wet kiss on my lips.
I love you the whole much, Mama.
Extra long and theatrical hug from the eight-year-old at bedtime or anytime she wants me to linger just a little bit longer.
I love being a mother.
But some days I want to change my name.
I want to hide.
Potty without an audience.
But don’t we all?
There are many types of mothers. We each have our own talents. Our own style. Our own philosophies.
Just as millions of mothers before me – I swore I would do this mothering thing a bit differently than my mother did with me. That I would have my own style.
I told myself that I would never say “because I said so” to my children.
That I wouldn’t be their best friend. I would be their mother.
That we would have open and frank conversations about life.
And that I would never lose my temper in such a way that nonsense flew from my mouth.
I remember my mother once shouting, “FURNITURE, GET OFF THE CHILDREN!” when my brother and our cousins wouldn’t settle down one night.
Another time she stormed in to a slumber party that had gotten a bit out of hand, mascara smeared on her sleepy eyes, her hair matted on one side of her head, and dramatically said, “HUSH! THIS IS RUDE. IT’S NOT LIKE YOU’RE LIVING IN A BARN! PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO SLEEP HERE. BE QUIET!”
She is a legend. Quotes like that are never forgotten.
Exhausted outbursts aside, my mother is amazing at mothering. I had a remarkable example in her – and I was terrified that I would fail at motherhood.
I had all of these rules and ideals for the mother that I wouldn’t be.
I never began to develop a plan for the type of mother that I would one day be.
Until I actually became a mother.
Once the shock of having a newborn wore off a bit and we hit our stride I’ve reflected from time to time on the many mothers that I’ve had in my life – who have shaped me into the mother that I was becoming. Who have led me by their example – whether they realized it or not.
In addition to the relationship that I have with my own wonderful Mother – I have been led by the example of many mothers.
There were my two grandmothers. Both amazing in their own way, they taught me the life lessons that could have only come from them. Grammy has taught me to be true to myself and how to make the perfect pound cake – even though she still won’t admit that she’s found the perfect recipe. Mimmim taught me to love big, serve others, never waste a single thing – and how to properly bait a fish hook. They both taught me that it is a grandmother’s job to spoil their grandchildren – a lesson that I must bear in mind as my children now receive the same treatment from my mother.
My mother in law was the complete opposite of the stereotypical mother in law. She was kind. She served others. She minded her own business. She is one mother that I learned a great deal from and never really had the chance to fully appreciate until she was gone. She raised four children and all are wonderful people in their own way… but I am pretty partial to her youngest son. She did good. My husband is thoughtful, sentimental, caring, helpful, and I know that she had a hand in making him the wonderful man that he is. I believe she is solely responsible for teaching him to put the toilet seat down – and for that I am forever grateful.
There are a handful of women in my life that I refer to as my “other mothers”. These women are either aunts, friends of my mother, or mothers of friends – and sometimes all of the above.
I was blessed as a child in that when I went to spend the night with a friend, it was in a home in which my parents felt comfortable sending me and they knew that I would have fun and be well cared for.
When I was a teenager, this became even more important as my friends and I were usually up to something and would literally crowd around our mothers and sing in chorus, “Have we got a deal for you…”
These many women have shaped me and molded me and inspired me to become the mother that I am today.
And as hard as I tried not to let it happen, in those moments of desperation. Of sheer fury or panic. Of emotion and frustration and sleep deprivation, I find myself opening my mouth – and hearing the words and even the voice of my own mother flowing from my lips.
Sometimes it’s in a moment of fury.
When they have just pushed me a little too far.
But there are other moments, too. Moments that I didn’t really plan for when I was developing this philosophy of motherhood prior to actually being a mother.
It’s when my children are asking questions. Learning lessons. Needing the comfort that only a mother can give.
Those unspoken moments.
Holding their hand when they need protection, reassurance, or just my touch.
Hugging their necks and kissing their cheeks.
Lingering a bit longer as I tuck them in, clinging to the moments that are slipping by so quickly as they grow. I’ll stay close while they still want me close. While they need my attention. I hold those moments dear. I cherish the warmth of them.
Because these are the moments when love takes a new form altogether and I truly feel like my mother felt before me.
And like it or not, I know the day is coming when my children will catch me in a weak moment. An exhausted moment, perhaps? My eyes will light up in a flash of fury. My lack of sleep, overwhelming desire to potty alone, and need for any type of “me” time will finally catch up – and my children will hear the words that I once heard from my mother (or something like them), “Furniture! Get off the children!! It’s not like we’re living in a barn!”