I’ve been thinking about the evolution of Mom, and by that, I mean our experience with our mothers.
First, we’re born, thrust into a world full of light, sound and commotion. It’s confusing but we don’t have much to worry about because our needs are readily met. Food, love, sleep? Check. It’s our first nod to dependency, but we don’t know any different.
Pretty soon, we’re toddling around and getting into anything and everything, regularly pushing our limits and Mom is there to make sure we’re safe and happy, to the extent that’s even possible. We start to understand Mom is a pretty happening gal.
Then comes youth. We’re still blissfully unaware of life’s struggles and more than happy to continue taking advantage of this person who provides our care. Especially those meals and clean laundry. Keep ‘em coming, Mom.
The teen years hit. Man, can Mom be unfair. She doesn’t seem to understand why we deserve everything we want. And why do we have to do all these chores? We’re not slaves. We start fighting with Mom, slamming our bedroom doors as we scream at the top of our lungs how much we hate her. We don’t, but it’s all we’ve got in our powerless arsenals.
Close on its heels come the young adult years and with it, our rebellious streak amps up even more. We begin to question authority and wonder how our mothers made it through life being so heavy handed and yes, stupid. They don’t know anything, and they are so incredibly old-fashioned. Get with it! It’s modern day, people! We plan our escape, only our departure seems so far away.
We attend college (if we’re lucky) and get our ticket out of the house that’s become so oppressive with its rules and not-best practices. Seriously, we are capable young humans and perfectly responsible. Why the restrictions, repercussions and double standards? Our Moms are ridiculous. Being on our own is bliss, except we’re not really on our own. We aren’t even paying the bills yet. And some of us are showing our maturity by getting wasted, skipping class and having one-night stands. We are brilliant!
We make it through college and hit our twenties. Reality sets in. There are a lot of friggin’ bills to pay, and it’s nearly impossible to make ends meet, even with the full-time job we now have plus those irritating roommates who help share the burden of independent living. Mom comes to our rescue after we overdraw our checking account. Several times. Plus, we really miss Mom’s cooking. Maybe our idea to move so far from home was a dumb idea.
We cycle through a number of failed relationships and our Moms never say a negative word. In their eyes, we’re perfect. There are no “I told you so’s” or “You got what you deserve’s,” just empathy and encouragement. You know, Mom is pretty awesome after all.
We find a mate and settle down, whatever that means. In Mom’s day, that meant getting married, but she’s not laying down any judgment about your choices if you don’t decide to make it legal. Once again, she’s supportive and there to provide advice if asked. Life gets a little more complicated at this juncture after merging two lives into one household. We’re still trying to make ends meet, better our situation by perhaps buying a home or working car, and have some fun — because isn’t that what we’re working for? Plus, we’re slaves again. There are always so many chores to do, and no one to do them but ourselves.
We have a kid, then another, maybe even more. Just like that, we’re moms. We are soon under water, stressed and practicing a juggling act that borders on precarious most days. How on earth did our mothers do this? We call to ask. We call to complain. We call to just hear another adult voice for a few minutes. Once again, there are no “I told you so’s” or “You got what you deserve’s,” even though we actually do deserve exactly what we’ve gotten.
We apologize. We say thank you. We finally understand what it means to be a mom. How selfless, giving, and critical our role in these innocent lives we are raising.
Now we crave and treasure the moments we have with our moms because the clock is ticking and time left is uncertain. We finally realize she’s one of the most important people in our universe and has become a true companion. Plus, she’s still our number one fan.
Bless the mothers of the universe for all you’ve endured and given — and a happy Mother’s Day to one and all.
This column appeared in The Journal on Sunday, May 8 (Mother's Day).
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