I listened to a podcast on The Memory Palace last week about how Mother’s Day came about. You can listen to the podcast here, it’s a really interesting story. Although Mother’s Day is not what the founder Anna Jarvis had in mind, I think that Mother’s Day, as it is today, is pretty important.
I’ll be honest and admit that I didn’t realize what went into being a mom until it actually happened to me. I had some experience with babysitting, nannying, and working in daycares. The difference with those experiences and the job of being a mother is that you can leave those other jobs. You can go home at the end of the day and forget about the kids for awhile. As a mother your child is always on your mind. It doesn’t matter if you’re away on a two week vacation and you know they are safe with their grandparents, you think about them all the time.
I didn’t realize how much work being a mom was and I certainly never thought about the work that single mothers put in even after I had my son. It wasn’t until I was actually a single mother that I understood the kind of work that is.
It’s difficult to balance the love and adoration you feel for your child while having to be the bad guy so much of the time. Especially when they are so little and they don’t understand that when you grab their arm and sternly tell them not to run into the middle of the street it’s because you love them and they scared the shit out of you.
I’m certain that it gets harder the older they get. They begin to understand sure, but then suddenly they become teenagers. I don’t have one of those yet. I’m still at the innocent, sweet little boy stage. I know that I gave my parents a run for their money when I was a teenager so I’m nervous about this stage.
When a child becomes a teenager the balancing act becomes even more challenging (I assume anyway). There must be a balance between being a friend and being a parent. Leaning too far toward being a friend can be detrimental in that your child loses sight of the fact that you’re an authority figure, that you are in fact, the parent. Leaning too far toward being a parent can lead to your child hating you for an inordinate amount of time and possibly being cut out of their life forever.
I think my mother had a decent balance going on. I won’t say she was dead on because she wasn’t. Even though she’s my mom and I love her, she is only a person. And all people make mistakes. However, I say she had a decent balance going on because most of the time I felt I could go to her with problems, or just sit and chat with her about silly things. At the same time I knew she was in charge, that she had the authority to ground me for the entirety of my senior year. She had the power to take the phone out of my room, to limit my time spent with friends, to limit my time doing anything really. I recognized that she was my mom. (Same goes for my daddy, but this is a Mother’s Day post, sorry daddy.)
Many of my friends thought my parents were “really cool.” Which baffled my sister and I because they were our parents, and thinking of them as “really cool” was sort of weird. Now that I’m older and a mom trying hard to raise a good son (not like Macaulay Culkin in The Good Son, but an actual good person), I think the reason my friends thought my parents were cool was because they were able to balance being a friend and being a parent. They did their best to impose boundaries on their rebellious oldest daughter and when those boundaries were broken they didn’t hesitate to impart punishment. Of course when I would complain to my friends about said punishments they sympathized with me. But I think somewhere deep in our emo, angsty, teenage psyche we knew they were doing the right thing, hence the many proclamations of how cool my parents were.
So to my cool mom on the Friday before Mother’s Day, Happy Mother’s Day Mama! I love you so much! You are an amazing woman and wonderful mom.