Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day thoughts

I've read lots of posts today about mothers, some so wonderful as to be angels and others pretty dysfunctional. It made me probe my thoughts about my mom, but that's for another post, another time, because the day got me to thinking about myself as a mom. I hope I was somewhere between those extremes--not an angel but not terribly dysfunctional.
I never thought much about having children. I just assumed they'd come along after I married. They didn't, and while it didn't bother me much, my then-husband was desperate to be a father. We began adoption proceedings after five years or marriage and too many fertility tests, and within a few short years I found myself the mother of four adopted children, two of mixed race. I loved it, reveled in it, adored those children, even though at one point I had three under three and all in diapers. There is nothing better than the child hanging on to your shoulder who is quite certain you are the center of his or her universe.
Flash forward a few years, and I suddenly was the single parent of four, ages six to twelve. Yes, I had envisioned life without that man but I was scared. I didn't know I could raise four children alone. I somehow did it, because today they are each happy, contributing citizens, successful in their chosen fields, loving husbands and wives and mothers and fathers. And so close to each other emotionally and to me. I am so proud I could bust my buttons. Other people heap praise on me for raising four wonderful children, but I shrug and say "It was dumb luck." And I think it was.
I was busy, working and trying to start a writing career. I thought they would put on my tombstone, "I remember her--she always said, 'Run ng now, I'm busy." They each began to work at sixteen--if they wanted cars they had to pay their own insurance. Then they griped, once doctor's children and expecting the world on a platter; today they are grateful for the experience.
I do know a few things I did right. Meals were always on time, well balanced, and home-made; chores were assigned; rooms were to be kept reasonably tidy (this was only successful with two of the four). But I think the biggest thing is that they knew I loved them and that I was there for them. I remember the spring night that my oldest didn't come home until daybreak--he found me, wearing a big t-shirt and undies, sitting in a chair by the door. His explanation that he'd been swimming in a quarry  brought a torrent of anger, but he knew it was fueled by love and concern. We struggled through the years when teen-age girls hate their mothers and survived, love intact. I heard stories later of things I wish they'd never told me--parties they gave when I traveled on business, etc. Then we were on to proms and too soon weddings, several of which turned into four- and five-day parties.
And then, belatedly, there were seven grandchildren, all close together in age.
Perhaps my proudest moment, the one that epitomizes the love and closeness of my family, was the party they threw for eighty of my nearest and dearest to mark my 70th birthday. Afterwards, many people commented on their strong affection for each other and for me.
I know I am blessed, but motherhood? I don't have a clue about it.

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