There are many things that being a parent teaches you:
That you will never cease to be surprised at hearing phrases come out of your mouth like “don’t put that in your mouth,” “where did that come from,” and “how did you think that would be a good idea?” And what’s funnier is that you never even think about saying those things before they have already left your mouth. It’s like God has pre-stocked you with the necessary knee-jerk responses as soon as you conceived.
Being a parent will teach you that there are no ends to which you will want to help your children. Reality and practicality frequently gets in the way of that, though.
Being a parent will teach you that you will, within the span of 15 minutes, be both the worst parent ever and the best parent ever. At least according to the child whom is experiencing the parenting at that moment.
Being a parent will teach you that being a parent is truly an insane, thankless, tiring, excruciating, baffling, strange and wonderful thing to do. And those are only the good thoughts.
But most importantly, being a parent will teach you that you never–regardless of how good a child you think you were–appreciated your parents enough.
God knows I didn’t appreciate my mom as much as I could have or should have. And I’m not entirely sure that I appreciate her enough now.
I can see now what I couldn’t see years ago: that it’s impossible to stop being a parent once you’ve started. My kids will be my kids as long as either of us are still taking breaths and nourishment. And as a parent, you still want to care for and do things for your kids. And as kids, you’re still perfectly willing to let them. Because that’s how it has always been.
Now, I don’t think that I was a holy terror for my mom. I certainly was unique, and probably challenging in my own way–I’m really thinking I was a lot like Patrick as a kid. But my mother has always been there for me, through all the good, the bad, the brilliance, and the stupidity. Through the triumph and trouble, the pain and joy, my mother has always been one of the first people I’ve told everything to.
That’s what Mother’s Day is about, I think: part celebration of the under appreciated, and part opportunity to just realize again what an insensitive clod you’ve been through your entire life.
Oh, and don’t forget the part where it’s a chance to teach your own kids to appreciate their mothers. Yes, it’s a teaching moment. One which is completely wasted, I’ll grant you, but still, it’s an opportunity that doesn’t come around often enough.
So, to the mothers I currently hold dear–both my mother and the mother with whom I share parenting duties: I thank you for all you do and have done, in spite of the challenges, pain, joy, suffering, celebration, and noise you’ve faced while helping me through this life and helping our kids through theirs, I give you a heartfelt and huge thanks. I love you both very, very much.
To the mothers who’ve gone before who we find ourselves missing because they helped blaze the trail for those here now–Theodosia, Judy, Olga, Grace, and yes, even Nelda: all I can say is just…Wow.
Tomorrow, I get to have brunch with Jenni and my mom. And I’m thrilled and lucky because I get to do that.
See you tomorrow.