The Slippery and Sometimes Thankless Slope of Motherhood: Its Joys and Perils

If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.— Jackie Kennedy Onassis

In this department, there are no do-overs. You get one shot at getting this right . . . and that’s it!

I was lucky and very blessed to have given birth to two healthy children. The strange thing was I never expected to be a mother. I didn’t even envision myself in that role growing up. And yet, as I reached my mid-twenties, those pangs of maternal instinct came banging on my door anyway, saying: whatever plans you’ve got in mind for yourself lady, forget ‘em!

And I did, with the happy obliviousness of a person slipping on a pair of Manolo’s two sizes too big.

But hey, what the hell did I know? I was still young and stupid and about to learn rather quickly things would change.

I always believed babies were beautiful creatures. Messy, but beautiful and never moreso then when they’re ours. I don’t think it’s possible for a mother to look at her child and think anything other than the sun rises and sets on this face. We’re simply not programmed that way. For us it’s imperative that we look past any and all imperfections and hold our precious little offspring up to a level reserved only for future kings and queens. Because if we don’t, well then we’ll never survive the path called rebellion stretched out before us.

It’s a harrowing road. And for some strange and crazy reason we don’t even think about―no matter how many children we have. It works along the same glutton-for-punishment vein as giving birth where you simply forget how grueling those pushing out a fucking watermelon labor pains were and go back for more. Again … because this is how we’re hot-wired.

All we know is that there’s this whole person suddenly left in our charge. This tiny bundle of squirming arms and legs taking their first step across the room, boarding the school bus for the very first time on their way to kindergarten, packing the car and heading off to college, person. The one we are very much responsible for. And all those prized moments of “firsts” seeing their faces lit with all the newness life has to bear, are the dividends. The rewards we get as mothers to be present as these humans beings take shape and hopefully embody those hopes and dreams we’ve laid at their feet.

I’m not sure our children ever truly realize all that we do for them. What great sacrifices were made on our part so that they could have a better education, live in a safer environment, experience life from all angles before going off on their own. As mothers (and fathers), we don’t do these things with any sort of expectation in mind. We just do them. We ignore and we accept that their worlds have imposed on ours and hopefully somewhere along the way that heartfelt realization will eventually come to light.

And if it doesn’t . . . c’est la vie.

(Photo unsplash Bruno Nascimento)

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