Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Doomed Love

“I’ll tell you something about motherhood. It’s the most impossible love. You tell me when it ends. You tell me when it stops.”
- Diane Keaton in
Because I Said So

One of my neighbors had a baby last week and as I gaze across the street at her house, I remember back to those days when we brought our own children home. I think about that all-encompassing, soul-sucking, time-saturating state of being when every minute revolves around that child. And then I fast-forward to now, when my kids are teens and rarely have a physical need for me, let alone an emotional want of my companionship let alone my advice. I have to say, it’s a little rough on the psyche.

And no, this won’t be a long-winded rant about “where has the time gone?” and “when did they grow up?” In fact, my thoughts about motherhood are less about mourning the loss of their youth than it is about avoiding the inevitable mortality of my role as a mother. The question that looms over our house is: I know that I’ll always be a mother, but if nobody needs mothering, then really, what am I?

Really, it seems a little ridiculous that I would even have this discussion with myself. It’s one of life’s inevitabilities along with death and taxes: Our kids will grow up and no longer need us. And worse, they will be less interested in us than we are in them. Jeez, that hurts. I almost understand why aging senior citizens sometimes unexpectedly act up and make a big deal out of small aches and pains. They’re looking for a little attention. And, of course, it’s also why women obsess over their grandchildren – so that they can relive their maternal years.

Still, there is virtually no other relationship, except perhaps employer-employee, where nice things will be said, but both parties know that it will be time to move on. Sure, we’ll get the employee newsletter and the obligatory phone call once a week or two, but it has changed. The relationship has fundamentally changed, never to be the same again.

Yet, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat – every anguished moment of worry, every raging breath of anger, every tear shed over their broken hearts – it’s worth every single second.

My “baby” turns 15 this week – my own personal Valentine on the day before. It’s different to watch a daughter growing up. You fight with yourself over warning her about life’s trials and tribulations or stepping back and letting her experience them in her own way and her own time.

Excuse me now. I have to go and call my mom.


At 11:59 AM , Anonymous pat said...

That last sentence says it all. Our children are now in their forties and fifties. Ask yourself - can anyone take the place of your Mum? Of course the relationship changes and if you want them to have a happy marriage their spouse has to come first - not you. But no-one will ever take your place. This wisdom from someone who cried for three weeks when her eldest went to University.
Michele sent me.

At 12:01 PM , Anonymous Pat said...

B---r! Did I say Michele sent me?

At 2:43 PM , Blogger Blitz Krieg said...

Boy did this hit home with me. My son is a senior in high school. I've done everything I could in the last few years to as much time with him as possible. (Including turning down a promotion with large bonuses to take a job I love with less pay and benefits but a great schedule)

It was good until this year when his friends, work and school have kept him busy and given me more time to think about how much it will suck when he leaves next fall.

Of course all this time also allows me to drive my 12 yr old daughter crazy. "Stop looking at me Dad!"

At 4:09 PM , Blogger margalit said...

Holy crap, you hit the nail on the head exactly as to where I am right now with the whole mothering thing. Having teens really brings a new perspective on it, doesn't it?


At 4:13 PM , Blogger MorahMommy said...

It's so hard being a mother...there are times when I just want them to stay my little babies and other times I can't wait for them to be grown. All you can do is love them and teach them the best you can and enjoy.

I also know what you mean about having to call your own mom. I think I'll go call mine.

Have a happy Sunday!

Michele sent me.

At 5:06 PM , Blogger Yaeli said...

Reading your post makes me think of what a hard time I caused my own mum... Poor mum. I hope my kids aren't like me.
Michele sent me.

At 5:34 PM , Blogger kenju said...

My children are now 35, 37 and almost 41. They don't "need" me anymore, but they still show me atention and love. There was a time )mostly when they were in college) when they were less attentive, but it is understandable even while it is saddening. They might go away for a while, but they'll come back.

At 5:56 PM , Blogger Teena said...

Hi! Michelle says to say hello :)

At 6:35 PM , Blogger Anna said...

Great post. It makes me miss my mom even more.

At 8:06 PM , Blogger Lynn said...

I've never consciously thought about the "mortality of my role as a mother". Yikes! Does this mean that someday I will look back on these sometimes trying days as the mother of a twelve year old female and long for them again??? Did my mother actually go through this too??? Hold on a minute, I'll go ask her...I just walked into my mother's room and gave her a great big hug and kiss and I told her about your blog. She said "Someday when your children grow up and they're on their own, then you'll know if you did motherhood right." Now I think I'm gonna go have a good cry.

At 10:33 PM , Blogger kenju said...

Michele sent me back, Karen. I think it is great that you reference her in your header.

At 10:46 PM , Blogger David said...

our daughters share a birthday, mine is turning 16, she is the youngest and the last to be at home.
Everything I do for her will be worth it, nothing I do will be wasted.
I have my mom nearby and get to help her each day. Life is a swirling mist, out of which we wring some refreshment, but also it can be hard to navigate without a good direction finder. Thank God for God.

At 9:16 PM , Blogger Swishy said...

When they say it's the hardest thing you'll ever do, they don't just mean the diapers and the sleepless nights, do they?

At 10:21 PM , Blogger Marisa said...

I love your writing but I especially love your posts like this -- about parenting. Almost makes me want to be a parent too. Almost. ;)

Hope you're not buried under snow like I am. But if you are -- tag, you're it!

At 12:37 AM , Blogger OneWoman'sLife said...

Beautifully written..

You make me miss my mom... Thanks for this amazing post.

At 5:51 AM , Blogger Zephra said...

Seeing them grow up has been on of the most painfully beautiful experiences of my life.


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