Sometimes You Just Want Your Mommy
I've said before, and I’ll say it again, that I don’t know how mothers do it without their mothers. Mothers are the most indispensable thing any mother needs to get her through. And I suppose it doesn’t have to be your own mother – a mother figure, a mommy friend, a celebrity mama role model – it all works. But I would bank my firstborn that no mama can mama without another mama. Period.
I think sometimes have a child makes your own childhood flash before your eyes, or comes in these unexpected memory waves that sometimes threaten to knock you off your feet. Sometimes all I want my mother to do is hold me while I cry. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away.
Motherhood makes you emotional and sensitive, and for those of us who are already built that way, it intensifies all the feels all the time. And I have all the feels all the time. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but whenever I have the feels, it feels like a lot of feels. You know what I’m saying?
I am happy that I know that my feelings are not, for the most part, postpartum depression and anxiety related, but I guess I wonder if it will ever end – this feeling that sometimes I’m only one step away from not being able to be strong, or capable, or, you know, someone’s mom for the rest of my natural life. As all moms know, you get these feelings when you are tired, when things don’t go “perfectly,” when you’ve spent too many days in a row with your kid. It just happens.
A lot of things have been going on in my family, both happy and sad, and so it’s no wonder all the feelings are percolating. I don’t have to make it about being a mother. It’s really about being a human who also happens to be a mother, and a daughter, and a wife, and a sister and an in-law. But having a child makes the weight of life, and all that it consists of, greater. Not because it is a burden to be a mother but because there is this expanded reality that you now live in that makes you softer and more vulnerable and more likely to personalize all that manifests around you. It’s irrational and nonsensical but it is the reality of motherhood and parenthood in general.
What do mothers who don’t have mothers do? Who do they run to? How do they know that there will always be one person who (hopefully) will never turn their back on them and their petty worries and their big dramas? Conversely, how do mothers bear the weight of their responsibility to their children? Especially when those children steal from them, get addicted to drugs, live halfway across the world and never call? I mean I know humans figure these things out, I’m just afraid that it’s difficult. As if life isn’t difficult in any case.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the weight of expectation and that expectation leads to disappointment because no one can know entirely what another person’s expectations of the world, or of them, that others hold for them. I guess what makes me saddest is that not everyone is willing to live up to the expectations others have for them and that can be painful and confusing for everyone. I’m not speaking in code here, I am just reflecting that our closest human relationships are always going to be fraught with ups and downs and it scares me. It scares me because I’m someone’s mother.
What people don’t tell you about having children is that you don’t just get to go on being you. They couch it in obnoxious euphemistic talk about how “everything changes” once you have a child, but they don’t look you straight in the eyes and say: “Are you ready to be the rock that another human stands on when they are sick, lonely, hurt, frustrated, confused, bored, and ecstatic?” or “Are you confident in your ability to shepherd a tiny being into full adulthood and accept all the challenges of every life and developmental stage that this person will go through?” It’s a lot. And I feel like there is not enough said about how MUCH it is. Like it's normal or some shit.
Parenthood is the only journey for which you get no training, feel insecure and question yourself at every turn, get openly judged for all your decisions regarding the human that everyone was so gleeful about you bringing into the world, and that you get no pay or reward for save macaroni necklaces (I hope!) and the occasional spontaneous “I lub you” from the most endearing creature you have ever met. I mean yes, it’s a kind of pay, but there are no parenting medals as yet that I am aware of, and I think that’s bullshit.
It’s no wonder that people take the achievements of their children as rewards. What else are we supposed to do? The bravest parents are those who support a child through the worst shit you can imagine because not only are they engaged in the hardest job on earth, but then their kid has to go screw it up and not reward them with graduate degrees but instead challenge you more by falling in with the “wrong crowd” and all the bad shit that entails. Kids don’t owe us anything for sure, but maybe they could make it less hard on those people who stayed awake with them all night when they were kids because there were monsters under their bed. I mean, right?
I’m not sure that I have a point, but what I do know is that my perspective has changed. You know when you used to watch TV with your parents and famous people from their era of television would pop up and they would be amazed at how much they aged? Well, guess what? That’s becoming me. I’ve traded places from the child position to the parent position and it’s more than slightly terrifying. I still feel like my mother’s daughter but how can it be that I’m my daughter’s mother?
I think the only reward at the end of this journey will be the extent to which I was, and I know I was, there for Aya. No matter what.
Just as my mother has been for me.