Magazine editors always want me to end sweet. That’s why the original ending for yesterday’s “What I Miss Most…” post here on MommaBlog was “…having an entire day without kids – and not missing them terribly!”
I guess it’s their way of atoning for letting me rake motherhood across the coals. Yet every once in a while, I wonder if they’re right.
After I tweeted yesterday’s post, encouraging other moms to join in the scrum and share their own lists of what they miss most now that they’re mothers, one comment stood out. Among the hilarious (“my waist”), the oh-so-true (“sleep”) and the amen, sistah (“not hearing my own voice on repeat for an entire day”) was the sweet I hadn’t posted. My neighbor Grace wrote on my Facebook page:
“What I miss the most about not having babies anymore: 1. buying clothes for my kids without them having their own opinion about what to wear 2. being asked to cuddle at night 3. the new baby smell.”
Immediately, I thought, Awwwww, followed by Grace must be tired of teendom, and finally, Now I look like an ingrateful, whiny mom. Gee, thanks Grace. See if I offer to carpool your kids again.
And then I got over myself. After all, I’d provided a place for moms to vent, because that’s what MommaSaid is all about. A little validation, and attempts to make coffee come out of your nose now and then. But sometimes I wonder if all these light-hearted (and sometimes, rather dark) jabs at motherhood hide my reality: I’m a better person since I became a mom. Less selfish, more caring, better at removing stains from the sofa.
That’s not to say that people without kids are somehow not as good people as parents are. It’s that I wasn’t as good a person without kids. And that makes me proud and also, a little frightened.
I love having a backyard full of kids who are sledding, building forts or kicking soccer balls around. I love coaching my son’s soccer team, and I love listening to my 12-year-old compose songs on his tricked-out keyboard just outside my home office door. I love talking to my eight-year-old neighbor, Jacob, about his guinea pig, and hearing about my niece Erin’s birthday trip into Manhattan with a bunch of other 14-year-old girls and my brother. (Sucker.) I love kids.
But not babies. Not so much. So I couldn’t relate to what Grace misses about her four babies, because I don’t pine for the sleep-deprived, colicky, cranky years. Hence, “What I Miss Most….” And though I sobbed uncontrollably the first time I left my firstborn, then eight-months-old, with my mother-in-law for a weekend, I got over it as soon as I had an entire night of uninterrupted sleep for the first time in what seemed like forever. Sure, I missed my baby, but not really all that “terribly.” It was 48 hours, people. We all got over it.
Now that my kids are tweens, with one on the cusp of that teendom Grace seems less than enamored over 24-7, I’m more content with motherhood. Now I can look back and see how rushing my son, bleeding from the head from a whack of a hockey stick, courtesy of his little brother, to the ER, made me more capable. How enduring reading plot-less books like “Airport Trucks” again, Mommy! made me more patient. How not having the time to shave both legs on the same day made me more selfless. How worrying that my kids might grow up without me as I battled cancer, more courageous.
Perhaps motherhood made a man out of me. Or, er, you know what I mean. It made me grow up, just as soon as I swore to never again to have my mom come over and watch the baby because I had what amounted to a head cold. (Who was the real baby that day?) Motherhood taught me to suck it up and take charge, and it forced me to put myself last…and that’s the part that frightens me. My entire world, from my work-at-home business to my mini-van filled with camping equipment for a Boy Scouts trip I didn’t even attend, revolves around my children. Who am I without them? What kind of person will I be when they leave home?
A well-rested one with far less laundry, that’s what kind. C’mon. You didn’t think I’d end sweet, did you?
Share, share, that’s fair: What did motherhood do for you?