I’ve learned some things about motherhood in the 36 years since then. Three kids, two stepkids and five grandsons will do that to you. What strikes me so far about motherhood is that it’s wonderful, terrifying, life-affirming, disappointing, and about a thousand other shades of good and bad.
Parts of being a mother are profound, even sacred. I’ve never felt love like I did in the moment that my husband and I met the newborn baby we’d created. That lingers as one of the sweetest moments of my life, right along with the time I sat waiting for the Denman island ferry with my carload of kids as we belted out “Rose-Coloured Glasses” to pass the time. My god, I felt so happy and in love with all of them.
But motherhood has its share of abject misery and heartbreak, too. I remember my oldest child crying over his first romantic heartbreak, and the horror I felt to discover that my own heart was breaking like the first time, right along with his. Or when my daughter didn’t come home when she was supposed to, and I paced the streets in near-hysterics looking for her.
The nights of worry don’t go away when your children grow up and move out. Motherhood is forever. No, the worries just grow larger, because now they’re about marriage problems and job disappointments and financial trouble, and a simple cuddle and an ice-cream bribe just won’t fix them anymore.
The state of motherhood also comes with a dull ache of concern, which starts pretty much at the moment of birth and manifests as a permanent uncertainty, leaving you to wonder at every stage of the life cycle whether you’re doing right by your child. Are you doing enough? Too much? Are you nurturing? Over-nurturing? Neglectful? Are they happy? Oh, it never ends.
Happy Mother’s Day. Hopefully I’m not scaring anybody off.
Because the truth is, I wouldn’t change any of it. I can’t imagine my life without all the intensely unsettling moments I’ve experienced as a result of being a mother, or without the crazy, interesting, surprising people who my children have turned out to be. Being a mother is never easy and I haven’t always been a good one, but damn, I’ve never loved anyone like I love my kids.
Where would we be without a mother’s love? It runs the world.
“Jody, Daniel and Cigarette” Courtesy of Jody Paterson
“Regan and Owen” Courtesy of Jody Paterson