Joy. Pure joy. That’s the only way I know how to describe the feeling I had when my newborn baby girl was placed in my arms. I instantly fell in love and have remained in love for forty years and counting. When my second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth newborn babies were placed in my arms, the joy was equally as passionate. I never knew a heart had room for so much love.
What has forty years of motherhood taught me? That my need to mother hasn’t changed, but my children’s needs have.
I thought the early years were exhausting. The tiny humans that entered my life depended on me for everything. Nourishment, baths, ponytails, endless storybooks, answers to questions such as “Why are cheerios round?”, and lots and lots of hugs.
Upon discovering they were individuals, separate from me, they began making their own choices and decisions. “Are you SURE you want the plain swimsuit with a fish on it instead of this colorful cute one with ruffles?” I ask my three year old. I learned early that some things weren’t worth debating. I was good at letting them make simple choices. Not so much the big ones.
With each birthday, I saw my importance in their lives fade, ever so slightly. I was rescued from complete retirement by their need to talk. Always in the middle of the night. Was I about to complain about my struggle to stay awake, knowing I would need to rise early? I would never turn down their desire to have my attentive ear, and my opinion.
When my first daughter married and began a family of her own, I was saved by the fact I had five others that still needed me. It was when the last one left that I had to redefine my role as Mother. Or did I?
I just hung up from an hour conversation with my first daughter. She is now a mother of seven and she still calls. Not just for advice, but because we are friends. Daughter number four sends me a long text and makes me laugh. Number three calls for suggestions on how to break a little one’s habit. Daughter two shares her excitement over a product she thinks I can’t live without. Number five, my only son, calls to see how I’m doing and number six wants to know my recipe for spaghetti. These are the years where I easily slip from Mother to Friend and back again. They are the ones who determine which role I assume at the time, and I adjust, as the situation requires.
As I get closer to the winter of my life, I no longer worry about my role as Mother. I will always be their Mommy, and each one will always be my favorite. We have composed a graceful melody, with two-part harmony, and I couldn’t be more satisfied with my life-long career as Mother. Joy. Pure joy.