“Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother.”Unknown
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I don’t usually write about motherhood. There is a very specific reason for that. Motherhood scares me shitless. I have no idea what I’m doing and I have no business writing parenting advice to people on the internet. I don’t know if other parents feel this way or if my parents felt this way, but I’m in a constant state of flabbergasted confusion.
To be sure, raising a human doesn’t come with a manual. We each do the best that we can with what we have. But some things just can’t be taught and how to be a parent is one of them. So, we try. We try as hard as we can to make the right decisions and teach the right lessons.
Motherhood and Me
Motherhood is scary, for me, because I want to be the best mom to her that I can be. I love her so much and she deserves a happy life and that includes her adulthood. If my journey through life has taught me anything, it’s that what happens today affects you tomorrow in ways that you couldn’t imagine. I don’t want her to have to spend her adulthood “trying to get better,” like I have. I want more for her.
I want to be an authority in her life while still being a rock and a safe place. When I was growing up, I always heard people say to their kids, “I’m not your friend, I’m your parent.” I understand the sentiment, but I disagree. I believe that you have to be both to succeed and that is a fine line to walk, my friends.
Sometimes I still can’t believe that I’m trusted to be someone’s mom. It’s a little mind-blowing. Like, they just hand you this tiny, defenseless human and say, “Good luck!” It’s wild, when you think about it. But you do it. You figure it out because you have to. You love this tiny human, so you keep going one day at a time.
Here’s the thing, I don’t always love this thing we call motherhood. I will. We always enjoy things more when we look back on them. I love watching this kid become her own person; growing and learning, forming opinions and preferences. It’s unbelievable. I tell her all the time that she is the smartest person I know because when I met her, she didn’t even know how to sit up by herself. It makes her laugh.
But I don’t always love it. Because it is hard. It’s emotional. It’s frustrating. And it’s scary as hell. There are no breaks and no do-overs. Not to mention that this is a whole other human being. You can’t control them, you can only teach and hope that they make good decisions.
Motherhood is exhausting. All that said, it is love and pride. Friendship and the purest trust. It is a bond like nothing I’ve ever felt before. A fierce need to love, protect, and save her from the ugly things in this world.
Motherhood is pure love, to be sure.
The Mom Trifecta
If you can be taught how to mom, the other mothers in your life. I was lucky as a kid, I was raised in a large, close-knit family. My mom’s side and my dad’s side. I was cared for by aunts, uncles, and grandparents as much as my own parents. There were sleepovers with cousins and birthday parties with the whole family in attendance. I remember my Aunt Petie taking us to the drive-in in her wood-paneled station wagon.
But, to be sure, there were three women who made the most difference in my life. To start, my grandmothers. I lived with both of them, on and off, for all of my childhood and teenage years. Both of them forces to be reckoned with. Amazing women with amazing stories.
My Mamaw Jerry raised five kids by herself. She worked in a factory her entire life, retiring at 65. She lived another 23 years after retirement and I believe that she lived it well. She was a beacon of kindness, understanding, and acceptance. She loved us all so deeply and she worried for us even more.
My Mamaw Jill also had her hands full. Together with my grandpa, she raised seven kids. She was a stay-at-home mom and wife and she made my childhood so happy, safe, and secure. She is still with us, though she struggles with her memory sometimes.
They made motherhood look easy. They loved me, taught me, and watched over me. They believed in me and they saw my goodness. A goodness that was a reflection, they just didn’t realize it. I learned to be loving and kind from these two women. It is the gift that they gave me; a great bit heart that I wear on my sleeve.
The person who taught me the most about motherhood, though, was my own mother. My mommy. She’s reading this right now. Hi, Mama Beans! The reason I know she’s reading it is because she reads every article that I write. She’s my biggest fan. The biggest supporter I’ve ever had. She’s my best friend. The person I tell everything to. I don’t know what I do with out her.
Our relationship has always been strong, even when distance has divided us. When I was growing up, I lived with my dad in one state and my mom lived in another. I only saw her on holidays and breaks from school. I hated it. Being apart from her felt so unnatural. I remember being in 6th or 7th grade and wanting my friends to meet my mom because, in my eyes, she was the most beautiful, coolest mom in existence. She still is, as far as I’m concerned.
We’ve been through thick and thin together. We’ve been each other’s crutches when we needed them. We’ve gotten each other through emotionally devastating, life-changing scenarios. Sometimes I think of a time when she isn’t here anymore and it’s unbearable. I have to chase the thought right out of my mind. I can’t even think about it.
Thing about my mom was, no matter the distance between us, she always made sure that I knew I was loved, supported, and believed. She believed me always, even when no one else did. She knew my heart when no one else was interested in getting to know it. She saved me from myself.
The biggest lesson that my mom taught me about motherhood? To accept your child as is. Accept them as their own person, with their own opinions, beliefs, and dreams. When I came to her and told her that I wanted to be a pro-wrestler, she came to all of my matches. When I decided that I wanted to an award-winning actress, she truly believed that I would. She’s always the first person to read everything that I write, fiction or otherwise.
She knows that I’m a little quirky; my spiritual beliefs are different and I’m a little weird, but she gets that part of me. We’re silly and fun and we never take ourselves too seriously. I got that from her; the ability to laugh at myself. My sweet mommy knows me better than anyone on this planet. She knows all of my moods and the signs for which one of them I’m currently in.
She’s been my shoulder to cry on and my friend to laugh with for my entire life and I will forever be grateful to her for that. I love you, Mommy. I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day.
Lessons In Motherhood
To be clear, the people in my life who taught me the most about motherhood, taught me through showing me. They showed me love, respect, and understanding. They gave me room to grow and didn’t expect me to fit into some mold that was never meant for me. They encouraged me to be strong and independent and they modeled that through their own behavior.
My life is immensely enriched because of these three beautiful and extremely different women. I was lucky to have them and I will always be grateful for what they gave me.
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Love and light. Keep fighting the good fight!