Mother's day is coming up so I thought that this was an appropriate thing to add to our site. Whether you are planning to have a baby, pregnant now, your kids are in school, or their grown up and out of the house this story is meant to encourage all women that read this.
When I was 8, I had names picked out for all of my future offspring (A DOZEN baby girls). At 13 I had my own babysitting business. After grad school, I was teaching a class full of fourth-graders. So by the time I became pregnant with my first child (a boy, go figure!) I knew exactly what kind of mother I was going to be calm, organized and completely in charge. Yeah, right!
If there's one thing I've learned after four kids and 17 years of parenting, it's this: As much as the mother sahpes the child, the child shapes the mom.
Despite my intentions of being a cool-as-a-cucumber parent, the birth of my first child, Brandon, now 17, transformed me into a maternal tossed salad. For the first two years of his life, I refused to leave the house without my What to Expect manual for fear I might need to know how to make a baby tourniquet or something.
Impossibly, it would seem, Brandon grew up to be the most serene and easygoing person I've ever known. Like a human tranquilizer, he puts me at ease, offering me a voice of reason in way few others can. "You should be less worried about me getting E. coli from a raw hamburger and more worried about me choking on this overcooked hockey puck!" he once said during dinner. I had to laugh. He had a point- and it wasn't the first time. I needed to chill. Maybe I'm not the unflappable parent I'd hoped to be, but thanks to my laid-back eldest, I'm a little closer to it.
Where Brandon was born to go with the flow, my second son, Alex, 15, carves his own current. When he was 12, Alex wanted to take electric guitar lessons I said no- he had enough going on with school, baseball and football. So he got some secondhand strings, taught himself to play via instructional YouTube videos, and started a band with some middle-school buddies. Take-charge Mama might have grounded her willful son, but something in me had changed. Instead of getting angry, I threw a huge get together in the basement and invited everyone over for The Allies' first concert.
Somewhere along the way, this staunchly inner-directed child had taught me that my purpose in parenting is not to tell him when, where and how to flap his wings, but to give him the ability to soar, unafraid, on his own.
By the time my third son, Jake, came along, I was less hovering (thanks, Brandon) and less controlling (thanks Alex). But I was still clinging to my super-organized, scheduled-down-to-the-last-minute tendencies. As with my first two sons, Jake certainly changed all that.
Here is a 10-year-old brimming with curiosity, who collects information like other kids collect baseball cards. Mothering him is like being a perpetual contestant on Jeopardy! The trouble is joining my son in his knowledge quests can take a lot of time! Practice with him for the geography bee? Of course. But I had to brush up first. Read the five-book The Lightning Thief series with him? Sure. And 28 hours of reading later (yes, 28!), we finally finished the last book. But I wouldn't have missed those juicy mother-son book chats for anything.
With Jake as my guide, I've learned to look up from my weekly planer every now and then to see the world, and to stop and smell the roses, even if they're not exactly on the way.
Looking back, the mom I thought I'd be all those years ago certainly isn't the mom I've become. My kids have seen to that. But my spirited 7 year old Emma sometimes reminds me of the little girl I used to be. After being beckoned to her room "to see something important," I was greeted by a display of 12 dolls lined up on her bed. "They're my babies!" she announced before rattling off their names one by one.
by Sharon Estroff