My baby has “babies” who are almost 18 & 16, and yet, when I close my eyes, in my mind’s eye, I still see ME at 17 with my whole life ahead of me…it’s wild. Through a series of not so smart decisions my world as a 17 year-old, with her whole life ahead of her, came to a screeching halt…BUT, but, B U T…when I break down these last decades, into their smallest increments of time and moments, what has been this life these last 38 years but wonderful?? 38 years of memories that are, for the most part, amazing far more than they are awful…it’s wild. When I think of life in the “big picture” view, rather than dissecting it into tiny fragments of times and moments some of which were in fact terrible, in the sum of it all, I have had so much joy and love and laughter, that it sometimes feels and seems rather unfair to those who have had unhappiness and sorrow and angst...it’s wild.
My memories of motherhood are many…I can close my eyes and see very clearly the pink round face of this human in the crook of my left arm where she spent the first few weeks of her life with me on my purple sofa in my cold ugly rental house where the rent was not getting paid and the electric was getting turned off but where I was learning who I was going to be and why…it’s wild. I can still hear her little 3-year old voice every time we drove north on Route 9 as she excitedly would say “oh here comes the Flower Plant” every time we drove by the nuclear power plant. I can still hear her little 6-year old voice when she was old enough to get the mail herself as she would walk into the house and say “your Mazageene is here” when she would hand me my copy of Allure or Mademoiselle. I can still see her smile the first time she saw her own face when her braces were removed after nearly 5 long years of orthodontic care. I can still hear her anger in her voice when she told me she was getting married and I said “over my dead body” and she said, “well I guess you will have to die” …OUCH that was harsh, but she was 18 and finished with school and wanted to get married and move to North Carolina, so that is exactly what she did…it’s wild.
…AND I didn’t die…I sold my house and moved in with a friend while I made some decisions and tried to navigate my own life as a woman who was not even 40 and had finished mothering, motherhood…I have friends who are 40 & 43 and who have toddlers…I had an empty nest at 36…it’s wild.
Motherhood is a different experience for every woman. Women who have partners who they love and with whom they wish to create a family are not the same kind of mothers who decide to mother alone, and are not the same kind of mothers who are forced to mother alone by a series of unfortunate events. There are also women who become mothers who probably, no, absolutely should not have, and then there are women who never get to become mothers who definitely should have...it’s wild.
Like that fantastic scene at the beginning of Forrest Gump, his mother’s words…life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get…Motherhood can be planned or unplanned and you still don’t know what you are going to get or how it’s going to be…you can do all the “right” things and still have complications and not-wished-for results…you can do all of the wrong things and have the easiest pregnancy and birth and the biggest baby in the nursery as I did…I did not even see a doctor until the end of October and my baby was born in January…life happens and unfolds and sometimes is fabulous and sometimes is frightful…it’s wild.
If there was ever an occupation where you are required to do the work, for 18 years at the minimum, and for which you get no pay, and very little recognition for all that you do, it’s motherhood, and nobody in their right mind would apply for a job where you are on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for, well, to be honest, 37 years now in my case, and yet day after day, women make the choice to become mothers. When my adult daughter has called me or texted me in a time of need or emergency, or, in these last 14 years walked over here, I have stopped whatever else I was doing, for her, or for her girls, every time. Never have I ever said, sorry, I’m too busy to help you. To be clear, MY mother too, never has she ever said, sorry, can’t help…never, not once ever…That is a sentence that no good mother ever really utters, ever… it’s wild.