She’s a mom. Her baby was born three weeks ago and she can’t stop looking at him. At times, pregnancy had been uncomfortable and seemed endless, but now, having given birth to this tiny human being who is totally dependent upon her, she is awed. Since he needs to be fed every three to four hours, she’s also tired in a way she’s never experienced before, and she already wonders what she used to do with her free time. But once he gets through the newborn stage and starts sleeping through the night, she expects mothering to get easier.
She’s a mom. Out of the blue, her 2-year-old son has a full-fledged tantrum in the grocery store. All she said to him was, “Let’s get you into the grocery cart,” and he threw himself to the floor screaming, “No cart, no cart, no cart.” People stared, many rudely, as if to say, “What kind of mother are you?” The tantrum lasted only four or five minutes, but it felt to her like four or five days. In the car heading home, her son is back to normal, happy, giggling and giving high fives to the air above his car seat.” She, on the other hand, is a wreck. If she didn’t have laundry to do and a project from the office to work on that evening, she’d dust off one of the 12 child-raising books she owns and find out how long this stage lasts.
She’s a mom. Not only did she buy a new dress and new heels for the party she and her husband are to attend that night, she’s had the babysitter lined up for weeks. Her 7-year-old son, who had the stomach flu yesterday, was clingy and whiny today, but late in the afternoon he ate some soup and drank some soda and seemed to be keeping them down. Thankfully, her 4-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter showed no signs of illness and the babysitter didn’t back out when told about the 7-year-old. Having patiently waited until the last minute to put on her new dress and shoes, she finally heads out the door with her husband, both of them looking forward to an entire evening with people who don’t say, “bye-bye” or “night-night.” But the 4-year-old runs after her. As she stoops to give him a quick hug, he suddenly gets an awful look on his face and throws up all over her beautiful new dress.
She’s a mom. Her youngest is graduating from high school. She thinks to herself that as soon as she has a minute, she’ll count up all the band concerts and ballgames, P.T.A meetings and school conferences she’s attended over the many years her children were in school. (For that matter, how much had it cost for braces and acne medicine, junker cars, fender-benders, and insurance for all three kids?) Forget counting up the highs and lows of those years — joys, hurts, and disappointments; she has them embedded in her heart.
She’s a mom. Her children and young grandchildren came in a whirlwind for the weekend and left the same way. Her house is a mess, and she’s pooped, but it was great to have them come and great to have them go. Over the years she’s learned that adult children don’t want advice; they want a listening ear. She provides it. (Well, she gives advice, too, but after all, she is their mother.)
She’s a mom. She had a nice Mother’s Day, yet she’s worried that her older son isn’t watching his diabetes closely enough and one of her granddaughters doesn’t see the need to finish college. The aide at the nursing home comes into her room to help her get ready for bed and comments on the flowers, cards, and phone calls she received, not to mention a visit from her younger son who lives in town. “You must have raised them right,” the aide says.
“Well, I’d like to think so,” she replies. “But, honestly, it never feels as if the job is complete.”
A writer and columnist from Fargo, N.D., Jane Ahlin also has taught English at Minnesota State University Moorhead.
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