I have more irrational fears for my children than I could ever list. I wake up in a cold sweat after dreams that we got separated at an elevator, I couldn’t find them in a grocery store, I wasn’t there for them. It forces me to live deliberately, to choose carefully, to watch vigilantly. I pray now. Many times a day.
I care so much less about what other people think. After my son was old enough to go to the pool, I wore the first bathing suit I owned in probably fifteen years. This body should be on public display even less now – it shows evidence of pregnancy, childrearing, and too many lunches composed of the crusts off their PB&Js. But you know what? The body image issues I struggled with my entire life are gone. Who needs to worry about the eternal pooch and the arm flaps when your son is squealing with delight at splashing around? And who has time? Life is short. Childhood is even shorter. “Mama, get your bathing suit,” they call. And I answer, because this will not last.
My world view has changed. It is not enough to tell me you care about families, Mr. Politician. Show me. Show me how you support families with maternity leave, and access to healthcare and decent education. Show me how you care about those who are getting lost in the larger battles of life. Show me why you want to send my sons to war. Show me how we are making the world better for our children, not leaving them with cripling burdens we didn’t have the guts to fix.
Being a mom has made me much less judgmental. The mom with the tantrum on aisle three gets grace – “You are handling this so well. Motherhood is tough isn’t it.” The mom who shows up in wrinkled clothes with a cheerio stuck to her hair? I know her. I love her heart. The man on the front page of the paper is not just an axe murderer. Somewhere, he has a mom, who carried him under her heart for nine months. She probably cared for him as deeply as I care for my sons.
Being a mom has made me a romantic idealist all over again. I think of their futures, the choices they will get to make. I wonder how they will change the world. I do my best to raise them to be hard working, clear headed, compassionate, idealistic. Oh, and I want them to learn all the tricks their dad knows so well – opening doors, showing little courtesies, smiling in just that way. If I do my job well, their wives will be as lucky as I am.
Motherhood is hard work. Motherhood fills me with awe. Being a mom has made me grateful for every precious minute of this life. It has brought me joy in a deep sense that no fleeting “me time” or night on the town could ever replicate.
Motherhood has humbled me. No matter how much of a hotshot you think you are, no matter how smoothly you can talk your way into and out off anything, a two year old can have you on your knees in three minutes flat.
And this, then, is where motherhood finds me most. On my knees. Cleaning up the messes my kids make. Cleaning up the messes I make. On my knees. Asking, yet again, for grace.