I wrote something recently and I was going to sit on it for awhile, maybe save it for something else…but as always, I reserve the right to change my mind!
Today one of my favorite blogs ever, STFU, Parents tweeted a link an article on Salon.com, and just like that my mind was changed about sharing this. It’s my favorite subject in the whole wide world: “How do some parents NOT get the memo that their kids are going to grow up”? The way I figure it, part of my job here with Jack is to prepare him to go out into the world ON HIS OWN. I’m not saying I’m looking forward to it exactly, but it’s going to happen and if I do it right – he’s gonna rock it. Without me.
On that note, here’s the little something I wrote earlier…
I’m one year into this mothering thing and I’m coming to see, it’s going to involve a lot of letting go. Whether it be my preconceived notions of what motherhood would be like or the literal letting go as my baby grows up – it’s clear I’m going to have to learn to just let go sometimes. And that’s okay. I plan to love him fiercely while he’s here with me and when he’s off living his own life someday – I will love him fiercely still. I’ll be the mother-in-law, the grandmother, and then the great-grandmother if God gives me time.
But right now I am the mother. I am the one who will help shape this young life for better or worse. It’s a huge, scary responsibility stretching out in front of me and I’m not just talking about the learning to read and write and cross the street stuff. I’m talking life lessons too. Like toilet cleaning. I’m not sending my son out into the world without knowing how to properly clean a toilet. Because oh yes, I judge a woman whose son can’t clean the toilet. Men are the ones who pee all over it; they really ought to know how to clean up after themselves. I think it’s my duty as a mother to not send another man out into the world not knowing how to WIPE THE SEAT OFF.
You see, I’ve known from the day he was born that he’ll only be with me for so long. I’ve got to raise him up right. Somewhere, there’s a little girl (or boy) out there being (hopefully) raised up right too. And they’ll meet and someday have a family. And Lord, I hope I remember to hold my tongue because it will be their turn. I’ll need to let go. I’ll be the mother-in-law, the grandmother. I won’t be the new parent anymore; scared of everything. I’ll need to let go. They’ll call me if they need me, but if I do this thing right, I think he’ll know what to do most of the time already.
Something I’ve realized in this past year of new motherhood is that in the act of raising us up our parents taught us a lot about how to do this. I’ve watched my husband, so sure that he knew anything kiss a boo-boo, rub a small back to bring comfort, read a story with silly voices and so many other tiny things that make a daddy. He learned that stuff from his mother and his father. From our parents we learned what to do and sometimes, sadly, what not to do. Now it’s my turn, our turn, to raise a baby into a boy and then into a man.
We’ll teach this child to walk, to run, to read, add, subtract, ride the subway, unload the dishwasher, cook an egg, scrub the toilet, separate the lights and darks in the laundry room, listen to his teachers, question authority when it rings false, pay attention in class, read more, create, sing, dance, laugh, love, be yourself, kiss boo-boos, drive safely, VOTE…there’s so much to teach.
From the day my baby was born I’ve known that if I am a lucky woman he will grow up. He’ll grow up and learn and fly away from me someday. If I do this right, he’ll call me when he needs me – and maybe sometimes just for the hell of it. I don’t know what our relationship will be when he grows up. I know what I hope it will be, and I hope I earn it. Because another important thing I’ve learned this year is that just because you wish something was so – it doesn’t mean it is. Just because you’re a mother doesn’t mean you will always have the respect of your children. For a child will grow up and they will remember, for better or worse, how you raised them. They were there. They’ll remember all of it. They always call on Sunday or they never do at all. I hope I find the grace to mother with courage; to help him learn and grow and be strong and smart and to let him go when he’s ready.
Oh Jack, I really hope I do it right and you call me on Sundays.