Sunday, May 9, 2010

lessons of motherhood

I received my first Mother’s Day card in a good many years this week, thanks to my son’s new wife. My off-spring, you see, do not believe in celebrating a day “invented by greeting card companies.”

I have made an uneasy peace with it. I know how they feel about me. Besides, I’ve never much hankered for that which is not freely given. In that spirit, I hereby take note of a few things my children have taught me.

CREATIVITY: I mean this in the most basic sense, as in: I can really build another human being; I can produce milk that will keep that child alive and well. It’s one thing to be told all your life that women in general can do these things. It’s quite different thing, however, to actually do it.

VULNERABILITY: With the birth of my daughter more than four decades ago, I learned the true meaning of vulnerability – not hers, mine. I specifically remember the moment when I realized that any individual having control of that little bundle had me at his or her complete mercy; that there was NOTHING I would not do to keep her safe.

PARENTAL MATH: Children are originals, not reproductions. Regardless of how much they may resemble their parents, children are more than the sum of their genes.

RESILIENCY: My son is the true teacher here. Since he was a lad, he’s been impossible to permanently flatten. While it’s true that many of his troubles are of his own creation, so are his solutions. If faced with a wall too steep to climb, he will reassess and change direction; whatever it takes to get around it, under it or through it. He seems to know where he wants to go and willingly engages “creative” detours en route. I confess to a silent admiration for his ability to bob and weave through life.

ASSUMPTIONS: Don’t rest on them and life will be a lot more fun. Why can’t you eat ice cream for breakfast? Why not get dressed for school before you go to sleep? Who says underwear must be folded before it’s put away? Where is it written that hair must be the same length on both sides or a pair of earrings identical? Look for reasons to say yes. What can it hurt?

LABELS: They don’t mean squat. This I learned from my daughter, the thrift-store shopper. Forget sizes and categories. One person’s bedroom slippers are another’s party shoes. The odd thing is, once you start thinking this way, it tends to spill over into the rest of your life.

TRUST: And I don’t mean in “experts.” Because it was so important to me, I managed to shake off all those older and wiser souls who advised me that I couldn’t totally nurse for six months, care for two children while working and going to school etc., etc.

I will never forget the dingbat psychologist who insisted my grade school-age son was a potential serial killer because he drew human figures without necks. Since I knew that this was simply his chosen style of cartooning, I was in no danger of confusing and offbeat sense of humor with the profile of a young Ted Bundy. (Can you imagine what some art teacher might have said to Gary Larson’s folks?)

NORMAL IS AS NORMAL DOES: I have little idea what “normal” behavior is and neither does anyone else. I don’t care what degrees the person holds. Go with your gut. If you sense something is wrong with your child, don’t’ let anyone dissuade you. But the reverse also holds true. And if your kid crosses an authority figure, find out what really happened before you do anything rash.

BE A GROWN-UP: This is the biggie. I am all of 21 years older than my daughter and 23 years older than my son. If I had not had them, I fear I would have remained eternally in the “what’s-in-it-for-me” stage of human development, never suspecting that I have a considerable amount to offer. That’s no small insight.

All in all, I would say motherhood has given me more than it took. Thanks to my children, I know myself.

A happy greeting-card-holiday to all...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

我對自己的信心已超越別人對我的評價 ..................................................