Motherhood has always seemed complicated to me. It wasn’t simple in the making, arriving years after we decided to become parents. My role model was long gone. Early on, I was unsure, overwhelmed, sad, and utterly confused by those three small children, their needs, their wants, their huge personalities and endearing charms. My days rolled one into the other with barely time for sleep, and though I had wonderful friends and a supportive husband, mother in law, and sister, there was no one to whom I could turn and admit my doubt and my fear that I was failing my children. I longed for my mother, the one person to whom I felt I could turn to in complete vulnerability and know there would be understanding without judgement.
As my children grew – and as I grew up – I slowly let go of my own vision of my children, and I learned to appreciate their own visions of themselves, greater, more complicated and more colorful than any I could have imagined. The early years of corralling them, keeping them close and safe, then battling them and being utterly baffled by them, gave way to letting go, encouraging, pushing (albeit gently) them into finding who they were and who they might want to become. They’re still at various stages of their lives and development, and I’m learning every day how to be a better mother, sometimes successfully and others not so much. I’ve learned more from being their mother than anything else I’ve done in my life, not just by the act of mothering, but also from these incredibly unique beings we’ve been blessed to parent. They’ve taught me and challenged me to be a better person. A better wife. A better friend, better sister, and always a better mother.
It took me years to really understand that motherhood is a journey of doubt for everyone, a wonderful, all-consuming, life-altering trip. With no end. It is a trip without destination, regardless of how and where it leads. I still miss my own mother most every day. I wonder how our adult relationship would have played out, what kind of a grandmother she would have been (amazing no doubt), and what kind of a daughter I would have become. In this way, my mother’s own journey is still going on, a trip without end.