Lessons from Motherhood

life lessons relational health May 11, 2015

Did you know that more phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year? According to the History Channel, these holiday chats with mom often cause phone traffic to spike by as much as 37 percent.

As a self-proclaimed “phone-a-phobe,” my annual phone call to my mom (another phone-a-phobe) is responsible for some of that spike.

Now that I live 1,413 miles away from my mom (not that I’m counting), face-to-face conversations are limited. Email and text are easier for me, but the phone truly is the best (and hardest) way to communicate emotion, both good and bad.

On our annual Mother’s Day chat (which, incidentally, was the result of me returning an errant call from my dad), I was reminded of how my relationship with my mom has changed over the past 44 years.

My mom and I have always gotten along. Even during the tumultuous teen years, we didn’t have the typical mother/daughter battles. The “lectures” I got were most often centered around my challenges with communicating or the way I treated my sister (sorry, Christa!), not any rebellious choices. Introverts by nature, mom and I would “fight” and withdraw with the silent treatment versus scream it out confrontation.

I became a wife just after my 22nd birthday and became a mom just before turning 27. My love meter shifted in increments. A deeper kind of love grew from being a spouse. And a fiercer love took over with the birth of my first-born.

With this shift during these monumental life experiences, a new understanding was born. Love’s origin begins with mom.

Thanks to my mom, I see motherhood a bit like this:

  1. Caregiver. The source of all of life’s needs begin with mom. If we do it well, baby thrives. If we don’t, the course of our children’s life is altered, sometimes irrevocably (but no pressure!). We are safety, love, provider, security, and comforter. Our arms, words, and touch soothe, assure, and protect from this strange new world. We prepare them to live.
  2. Teacher. For the next 18 years, we lead and guide. From their first steps to graduation day (in just 26 days… gulp), our voice and actions show our kids how-to and what-not-to. With love as our under-structure, we encourage, discipline, challenge, and support as they succeed and fail. Though our heart breaks with bad decisions, they burst with good ones. We prepare them to choose.
  3. Mentor. College, work, marriage, babies. These are the years we watch the fruit of our love. Yes, we continue to teach, but we’re also a peer of sorts as they navigate the water on their own. We are the call at dinner time asking how to make a favorite recipe. We are the advice-giver about a potential new job. We are the stamp of approval (hopefully) for the new person they’re dating. We prepare them to fly.
  4. Friend. As our sons and daughters script a life apart from ours, love binds us in a whole new way. Having shared some of the biggest experiences life has to offer… weddings, births, deaths… we have simultaneously shared the intimate evolution of that deepening and fierce love. Awe and respect flow mutually from one to the other. The parent/child line blurs. It’s no longer about roles but about how we help each other lead even better lives. We prepare them. And they prepare us.

It was never my dream to be a mom. I didn’t believe motherhood would fulfill my deepest heart’s desire. I wasn’t sure I even had a maternal instinct.

Now that I have been a mom for almost 18 years, I can say with certainty it has been the best part of my life. Yes, it’s been crazy hard at times. There have been hours of lost sleep, tears, head-scratching, and screaming (most often by me). But my boys have also brought me hours and hours of joy, pride, exhilaration, and above all, love.

The unexpected benefit?

Friendship with my own mom. We’re in it together.

And there’s no place, and no one, I’d rather be in it with.

 

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