Friday, February 05, 2010

4 Days to Motherhood

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As much as I love my mother, I don’t think I’ve ever loved or respected her as much as I have since I found out that I was pregnant. And I have a feeling that emotion will grow even stronger over the next few years. The more I think about the impending birth and childhood of my little girl, I wonder how my mother did it with such style and grace.

Through nine pregnancies and seven children, my mother remained patient and seemingly delighted with every new baby coo. She combed her hair every day and put on her face, changed diapers, prepared meals, drove carpool, planned birthday parties and chaperoned Girl Scout outings. She never made it look like a chore.

My mother and father made it look so easy. They made it look so fun. There was always a camping trip, a beach hike, a ski day or a pool adventure on the horizon. Dad planned scavenger hunts in the backyard and Mom made birthday cakes shaped like Elephants in the kitchen. We went sailing, travelled to Europe, played board games, and had screaming contests in the car. They really seemed to love being parents. Especially Mom.

As I think beyond this pregnancy and ponder being a mother, I visualize my mother for inspiration. She did it all without thanks or praise, without stomping her feet and saying, “What about me?”, without whining “What happened to my life?”

I know she had a life of her own. She painted pictures that my father proudly hung in prominent places around the house. She wrote Erma Bombeck inspired stories that Dad read at the dinner table with a red pen in is hand to correct her grammar. Then there was that macramé class she took at the local community college where she made a green macramé bikini. Oh yes, and the stained glass course when she created a brilliant green floral window that now catches the light in a loft space of my parents new home. She had her own Christmas store when I was a teenager, and now my mother takes classes on flower arranging and participates in both a Bunko and Poker club. Obviously she has always had her own interests, but as a child it never once occurred to me that my mother may have had a life outside of us children.

Every night, dinner was on the table, the babies bathed and dressed for bed. In the morning, we all managed to get out of bed on time, eat breakfast, get dressed and out the door for school. I don’t recall anyone ever saying thank you, but she still woke up and did it again every day. How on earth will I be able to do this?

How will I cope when my child only remembers the time it went wrong, instead of all the times it didn’t? I can remember the one band recital when my mother fell asleep in the second row, but I can barely recall the number of recitals where she sat alert and pensive throughout. I can remember the time she was late to pick me up at school and I waited outside for thirty minutes, but now I marvel that she managed to be on time for the thousand plus other times. What will my child remember about me? Will she remember that one time I lost her at Target, or will she remember that I didn’t let go of her hand on 1,289 other visits?

How will I cope when my little girl grows up into a resentful adult? How will I still love her after she reminds me of everything I did to screw her up? How will I feel when after eighteen birthday cakes, cards and candles, she forgets my birthday? How will I continue to love her through her rebellious period? How will I have the strength to stick by her even when she hates me?

Will I have to wait until the eve of Hedvigs first pregnancy, for her to turn to me and say “Thank you Mom. For everything. For changing my diapers twelve times a day for the first two years of my life. For feeding me every three hours even though your nipples were sore and dry. For bathing me every night. For teaching me how to walk. For giving me swim lessons. For helping me learn to read. For taking me on ski trips. For buying me weeble wobbles. For letting me join the swim team. For holding the water bottle on my ear when I had an ear ache. For driving me to summer school and giving me Granola Bars and Grapefruit pop as a snack. For buying me that pair of jeans with the strawberry on the bum. For pushing me to take honors classes. For encouraging me to be a writer. For not losing me at the commissary. For laughing so hard at my silly jokes. For baking me those three butterfly cakes for my seventh birthday. For sending me to private school. For believing all my ridiculous stories. For taking me to Europe in 6th grade. For inviting me home for Christmas every year. For taking out all my splinters. For making those cute green velour outfits for the Christmas photo. For not being mad when I told you I was pregnant. For paying for my wedding. For being there every night when I call to tell you how many centimeters I’m dilated or how much my heartburn hurts. Thank you.”

4 comments:

Ligia said...

Your mom did what her maternal love and instinct drove her to do, without expecting anything in return. What you are giving her here is a bonus. It will be so nice for her to be recognized this way. It will warm her heart.

It so great for you to voice all this.

Mimi said...

Beautifully said, Ingrid! Unfortunately we remember the one time "it went wrong" instead of the thousands of "rights" for the simple reason that it is so out of the ordinary.
Mothers and fathers do that too--we beat up on ourselves for the few times we were unloving or impatient with our children rather than concentrating on all the times we were a model parent.
FYI--I forgot to pick Gabe up from school one day...was very late! I still remember it vividly because it scared me (and him)so!!
Bottom line, human error, weakness, and fear do not equate to lack of caring or lack of love!! The love you will have for this child will outweigh every kick in the gut, every heartache, every insensitive, hateful word she undoubtedly will deliver, just as your mother's love has done.

Susie said...

You're back in the will...maybe even first in line. Thank you for this beautiful tribute!

Rick and Judy said...

Wow, Ingrid. And a wonderful writer you surely are. Judy Smedley here. Jane and I went to work for your mom when she decided to run her own store. I am sorry we have never met. Thank you for sharing your amazing insights. My best for you as you deliver your precious child. Blessings, Judy

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