I think about my mom constantly, not just when I see ads for Mother’s Day promotions. I think about the age she was as she mothered me and how it compares to the age I am as I go through it (about ten years older). I think about how technology impacts my parenting and social life — how did she manage to breastfeed without email to read on her phone? Or crowd-source parenting advice from friends on Facebook? I think about all the things she let me do by myself as I grew up and wonder if I’ll be able to foster the same independence for my children, or if my fear of the world’s dangers will squash those opportunities.
Mostly though, I think about how much I appreciate her now that I’m a mother.
Last night, my daughter required four bedside visits from parents as she cried about an earache on and off between 8pm and 7am. “Did I sleep-deprive my own mother this much?” I wondered as I sat patting her back from 4.30 to 5am.
I remember her rubbing my back for hours, always being there when I was sick, and never saying, “Don’t be sick, I have to go to work!” which is what I am thinking so much of the time. She must have taken hours, days, weeks off work when I had a doctor’s appointment, illness, or more serious incident. I never considered that she was needed elsewhere.
This is us circa 1978.
Now, I’m becoming her. Paying to have my grey hair hidden; saying, “You have to eat something that grew out of the ground,” at every meal.
I look in the mirror and see her. I see hours of caregiving that were invisible to me at the time. I see a fridge full of food that I now know did not magically stock itself. I see books and toys and birthday parties and gymnastics classes all designed to support a happy and healthy childhood, and I know now how much planning it takes to acquire those things (Funny, you still can’t order gymnastics classes on Amazon. For now.)
And I remember her leaning into the mirror in our bathroom when I was a girl and announcing, “I am becoming my mother!”
Are you becoming your mother?