This is not the Mother’s Day essay I intended to write.
This essay is about me. It’s about how I learned forty-year-old woman can act like petulant toddlers – and their Moms will still love them. This is the absolute uncensored truth on all levels.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom, (aka Grandma Macaroni). I love you.
I bicker with my Mom.
I roll my eyes at my Mom.
I am exasperated with my Mom when she buys my child expensive birthday / Christmas / Easter / no reason other than she wanted to presents.
She ‘just wants to’ frequently, so I’m frequently exasperated.
I am frustrated with my Mom when she morphs into a short order cook and meets my child’s utterly random requests for ‘melty cheese’ or ‘macaroni and peas’ or ‘the good crackers.’ I am most especially frustrated because I have no earthly clue which crackers are the ‘good’ crackers. This is their little game, and if I’m honest, I’m a little jealous.
I am irritated with my Mom when she brushes me off and gives my child another cookie. Extra cookies happen often, so yes, you guessed it – I am irritated often.
This past week I sat with my coffee and my laptop, morning after morning, trying to summon the great American Mother’s Day essay. Concentrating and meditating and deleting, as the words just never seemed right, never seemed enough.
I was searching for words of love and wonder. But, those words packed themselves up for a holiday without notice, leaving me dry. In a final, desperate bid to summon words, any useful words, I flipped back through old journals. Surely reading my words, written in my hand would unstick the spigot – it had to, I had deadlines and time waits for no writer.
So I sat reading my journals. Leafing recklessly though pages that contained lists of what I was grateful to have in my life, plans for the future, recollections and hopes and joys. I was flipping back and forth a bit recklessly when I slammed into the wall of fear and pain. Stung by the scrawl I didn’t recognize as my own, I read the entries full of fear I wrote last winter. I noted how my letters were bigger, loopier, rushed and raw. I wanted to turn the pages and run from my words, but I was stuck there by the stinging, searing, memories. For three months I was gripped by a variety of fears as my mom, who I can’t recall even having the flu was desperately sick. Some unknown bizarre infection was wreaking havoc in every sense of the word - and I was powerless. I was frantic, powerless and lost. I closed my eyes and willed the images away, but still I remembered the phone calls to and from my brother and father. I remembered keeping the phone ringer at full volume so I wouldn’t miss a call or text. I couldn’t miss a call or text.
I was submerged by the memories of the vows I made that began ‘If my mom is ok.”
If my Mom is ok I’ll let her buy my child whatever she wants to.
If my Mom is ok I’ll never be snide when she asks me to call to say I got home ok.
If my Mom is ok I’ll never complain that she lets the baby watch TV.
If my Mom is ok I’ll never roll my eyes when she questions my parenting.
If my Mom is ok I’ll never chastise her for undermining my parental authority.
If my Mom is ok… If my Mom is ok… If my Mom is ok…
Had I fulfilled any of those vows? Any? Even for a short time?
Didn’t I just question why she bought another American Girl outfit? Wasn’t it last month I pleaded with her to keep the Easter baskets reasonable this year? I allowed the first cookie so why, I recalled asking, did she have to push it to two cookies? And for the love of life could someone tell me which crackers are the ‘good crackers’ so I know which brand to buy?
Stunned the clock brought me back. Another day’s office hours resulted in nothing productive and know the toddler needed to be picked up. I put the old journals back, splashed water on my face and hit the Starbucks between my front door and school pickup line. Yes, I had made coffee that morning, but it grew cold and sour while I tripped on my memories. Not much in life is worse than cold coffee or broken vows, besides I needed the familiarity of the drive thru to steady me. I needed the caffeine to snap me back.
It was raining so we couldn’t play on the schoolyard slide. As my toddler waved good-bye to classmates, I noticed the quivering lip, the sad forlorn brown eyes and sensed my window to restore calm was closing – quickly. I knelt to explain we’d play another day, steeling myself in case this mission went south with the reminder: this kid saves the tantrums for me because I’m the safe harbor. I’m the person it is safe to screech at, stamp feet at and glare at while yelling, “I’m so frustrated.”
I get to deal with the tantrums because I’m Mom.
My love is sure and absolute.
My love is constant and relentless.
That absolute, relentless love despite anything this kid throws at me is the love that Moms talk about when we say we’d do anything for our kids. Anything to see them happy, see them safe, see them spared of pain or robbed of joy. Maybe those moments when being the Mom is tough are really gifts; I get to prove that fierce love over and over and over… and Please Lord over and over and over and over for a long time to come.
Standing in the cold spring rain I realized I didn’t really break those vows. I was just testing the limits of a more mature Mother / Daughter bond. Giving her the gift of loving her child over and over and over and over and Thank You Sweet Lord over and over and over again.
My Mom’s love is without question and therefore, can tolerate eye rolls, snide comments and exasperated sighs. I looked deep into those big brown eyes and said, “Hey, you want to call Grandma?”
“Good crackers?” the small voice asked?
I replied “Sure, Mommy promises to ask Grandma were to get the good crackers.”
Jennifer Bellber is a Certified Professional Life Coach & Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner. She's a wife, mother of a toddler, sometimes blogger, photographer for fun and charitable causes, slow runner and weight lifting enthusiast who reduced her physical self by 120 pounds a few years ago.
Jennifer's passion is helping overwhelmed parents figure out who they want to be when their kids grow up, ditch the Mommy Guilt (or Daddy Guilt as the case may be) and live a connected, empowered, wickedly amazing sexy life of their own design.
To learn more about Jennifer, visit: www.jenniferbellber.com