In the same way that Ed tells me he assumed he would not be a father from the day he had the mental capacity to assume anything, I assumed from day one I would be a mother someday.
(These childhood assumptions have, by the way, little to do with how suitable you are to the task; tweak circumstance a little and you could have had Ed as a successful parent and me as a mommy failure.)
On my first date with my future husband, we talked about wanting to be parents. We knew this about each other: we already worried about being parents and we began our joint worrying right then and there, on date one.
What we didn’t realize (and maybe what Ed did realize) is that for most people who become parents – well, they stay in that role for a good 75% of their life. I mean – all this talk about kids growing up and leaving home? That departure just ups the worry quotient, because you are not there to protect them!
I remember when storms would pass over Madison. I wanted to be near their school, just in case!
And following September 11th when one daughter was on the East Coast, I wanted to chart out a strategy to get to her, just in case!
Even before they were born, when I was a kid, growing up in post-war Poland, I worried how I would protect my children in the event of war.
And still, the word worry doesn’t describe things well. It’s not always an anxiety exactly, nor a pathological paralysis of some sort. It’s, for the most part, when they are well, an emotional embeddedness in their lives.
Motherhood. As a mom, you know, from day one that you can’t screw up. And yet you do screw up. But then you can’t give up. Where else in life do you have such patience with yourself? Come on, pull yourself up and try again. And do better!
I’m in the backseat now. They are zippin’ ahead on their own speed and inclination. And they’re good drivers. Great drivers. They take care. They give lifts to those who need a lift in life. They know when to slow down. And every once in a while, they look back at me, there in the back seat and smile and that smile makes me cry and laugh and give them a thumbs up in life.
God, I love my daughters!
Happy Mother’s Day to all – those still in the front seat, and us in the back.
And daughters -- thank you. At the very least, for this dinner: