Mother's Day is a tough holiday. I love my mother dearly, and I remember as a kid it seemed hard to make her Mother's Day special enough. Yet on the other hand I felt jilted that she got her birthday AND this Mother's Day thing. Luckily she seemed very happy with a card or simple gift I'd made her, and she even choked down our attempts at breakfast in bed. Of course those were better when Dad was involved.
When I grew older, into the range of where a lot of people my age were mothers, in addition to being a celebration for my mother, it became a somewhat uncomfortable reminder of what was not happening in my life. A reminder of what could be but wasn't happening to me. As those years stretched out, I resolved myself that it was becoming more and more unlikely that I would ever be a mom.
Then I got married and suddenly there was a choice to make. Because of my age, it was not completely just a natural sequence of events for us to have children. It was a choice. Neither one of us felt our lives would be devastated if we didn't have children. It was pretty much assumed by everyone, including us, that we would, but we could have decided that the risks created by my being near 40 were too high, the disappointment of age-related infertility was too much for us to take. After all most people my age had already had kids and had decided not to have any more several years before.
I looked around at people in my family and my job who were my are or older and saw quite a number of examples of older children who were very close to their parents. My mother and father are two of my best friends. At our family reunions, watching my cousins just younger than me interacting with their parents... and I decided this is a very valuable thing. I decided I wanted to have children more for the potential relationships I can have with them when they're older. I wasn't in it for the babies, I was in it for a "Make your own friends" situation down the road.
We still faced all the age related complications. What if I couldn't get pregnant? What if there were serious complications? We decided to move forward and address each hurdle as it came.
However there were no real hurdles, and nine months and 27 minutes after we decided to have a baby, there she was! The second one took a few months longer from the decision point to the birth, but not long enough for us to even start discussing any alternatives.
So I became a mother. It took years for that mantle to really settle on my shoulders. I've heard of people saying (because I looked for it) that it wasn't until their kids were old enough to talk, and call them "mom" that they really felt like a mother. For me it took several years after that.
Maybe because when I got married I was reaching the age where people stop having children, and because in order to avoid the disappointment of not having children I had resigned myself that I wouldn't, the adjustment to motherhood was a little more difficult and drawn out for me. For the longest time I'd hear people gush, "I just can't imagine what I'd do without my kids!!" And I'd think geez, I can sure imagine what I'd do without them... Don't get me started! My life without them would be like... my life before them! Uncomplicated, straightforward, simple. Dates with my husband, eating where and when I wanted without a thought as to "Will there be a playland, let alone something my picky eater will actually eat?" No strollers, porta-cribs, diaper bags. No coming home exhausted only to have the real work of getting the baby bathed, fed, and into bed before you can think about yourself.
My kids are 7 and 9, and it really struck me this last mother's day that I do feel like a mom. I think it's been creeping up for a couple years now, but it took the celebration to make me stop and think about it. Maybe it's because we can have movie nights again though they're often with the kids. And I even take the kids to the movies sometimes when Hubby's out of town. They are growing into those companions that I had looked for when we decided to have kids.
My role has moved away from having to answer their every tiny need, that constant care that a baby requires. While they still require a lot of care, and yes, mothering, they are moving toward independence and have become their own people with their own senses of humor, and their own abilities and strengths.
It was interesting how much I missed Thing 2 when she went from half day kindergarten to full day 1st grade. Suddenly she was no longer my shopping and Costco lunch companion. Thing 1 has always hated shopping since she was old enough to express an opinion, and has made it clear she didn't like me dragging her from store to store... but Thing 2 kind of got a kick out of it. She was a great shopper and a wonderful little buddy. When she went into full day school, I stopped having lunch at Costco. It is no longer fun there by myself.
I am a little worried about the trouble ahead with their teenage years, but I hope it will be a bump in the road on their way to being delightful people. My evil "Make your own friends" scheme is well on its way.
Last Mother's Day my kids went all out and made a big party for me. I believe this is mostly due to Hubby's involvement, of course. This year he's been really busy and run down, and Mother's Day was much more subdued. Also, Hubby had already spent all our spare money and more buying me a replacement diamond for our anniversary, which happened in March. (Since we were robbed I've been wearing smaller rings, or even $20 cocktail rings I pick up at costume jewelry stores.) So now I have A wonking big rock, I've been fussing over what setting to choose every since he gave it to me. It's currently being cast at the jewelers and will be everything I ever wanted in a ring, but between the rock and the setting there isn't room in the budget for him to take the girls on a wild shopping spree like they did last year. This year was very nice, don't get me wrong. But the difference between the girls' childish excitement about it last year and their rather aloof response this year was interesting.
Maybe they're growing up a little too fast.