Before I begin, I must ask my mother's forgiveness. I am about to discuss her, my understanding of her at least, in a very personal way on which, potentially, is a very public forum. Those of you who know her personally will find warm and loving understanding in what I say. For those of you who have not had that privilege, but know me personally, know how much I admire and respect my parents, and therefore, will endeavor to share my feelings. Those who can only rely on the shadow of emotion emitted through words in cyberspace, you must trust what I say. Mom, my explanation for using your example is based upon my own thoughts and feelings, but also because a wise man, guided by truth, once counseled me to look to your example and my hardships would be easier. Now I follow that counsel.
My mom has always adored children. Perhaps this was something she was born with. Some women know instinctively how glorious and important children are. Or, perhaps, she learned this precept through years of enduring patience and repeated pain. She loves her children beyond words, and she lets us know it. We, as her children, may not have the same relationship with her, but we have always had the same love. Even with four children of her own (we were not tame children), I remember mom watching, or volunteering to watch, every available child in a 10 mile radius. I always thought, if possible, she would take care of children until the day she died. I considered this a personal trait, but not one necessarily common among all women. At school there were plenty of girls who abhorred the thought of having children. This was also a time when the argument for overpopulation and lack of resources became seemingly more urgent (I feel I must address my views on this a little later). Contrary to my family, and religious, influences I never pictured myself as settling down and having children. Not out of disrespect, or dislike, for family. There was simply too much I wanted to do!
I dreamed of having a career. Well, a lot of careers if truth be told. None of which provided time for a family. Perhaps it was the influence of reading and movies, but all of my careers carried with them images of being called to adventures around the world at a moment's notice. How would this work with children? With a husband? Indiana Jones wouldn't do it. Maybe a husband (if he could keep up), but little children? Out of the question. I liked the thought of having a small, but chic, apartment in my old age. The walls carrying mementos of my adventurous life. A small, cozy fire warming my fat gray cat, named Moses, while I read peacefully by its flickering light.
As I matured a bit, and met Derek, I came to realize that image wasn't as inviting as I once thought. It was lonely. I didn't want to become that weird Aunt passed around my siblings' families as the children whispered words like "eccentric," "special" or "odd" merely so I could fantasize about gilded adventures. I didn't want the hopes I had for my exciting future to become the only thing I had to hold on to. So, I got married. Yay! A partner! My soul-mate! The love of my life. Naturally, in the course of things, children would come along, but this didn't dampen my ambition for greater things. I wasn't going to become another nameless housewife that lived vicariously through her offspring. Unfortunately, in my inexperienced mind, this was inevitable. If I had children, I had to give up everything else I wanted. This thought presents itself most strongly during times of frustration; times when I don't feel like I can get anything 'important' done. They must be important if I'm so bent on doing them right? Or when I don't necessarily get to do what I want. Even now, as I look at my adorable baby boy smiling at me and playing a few feet away I sometimes catch myself thinking, 'When he gets older then I can really figure things out.' Or, ' When he grows up then I can do what I want to do. I can finally write my book.' Or, the worst illusion, ' When he starts school I can start my life again.'
While brushing my teeth last night, as I often do, I had an epiphany. Maybe the monotonous action of your arm gliding back and forth leaves your mind vacant and exposed to your own reflection; you inevitably start to reflect. During this time of thought, a still, small voice taught me what my Mom has known for so many years. What her example has presented so often. This is my life! This is what I wanted! What am I waiting for? Its already started! I wanted a family. Here it is. I wanted children. Here he is. I wanted adventure and excitement. I wanted to experience something that would last my lifetime and beyond. What can do this better than family? It suddenly hit me that I'm missing it! Derek told me the other day that I needed to enjoy Ethan, especially when he's frustrating. I'm not going to tell him that he was right. At the time, I wanted to see him try it. But these times are what I will have to keep me warm later. The relationships that I'm building with my husband and my son are what will last through the ages. Love is the greatest and most incorruptible monument. This echos from Gandhi and Mother Teresa like it does from so many others. I finally realize that I am building my monument, everyday. I want mine to be something to be proud of, like my mom's.