After you have a baby and get past those first hazy, sleep deprived months, you start to see that becoming a parent changes how the world perceives you. Suddenly you’re not “First Name”, you’re “Baby’s Mom”. As you struggle to figure out where your role as mom ends and the rest of you begins, you realize your mother when through the same crisis of identity when she had you. The entire time she was helping you with school assignments or spending her evenings leading your Girl Scout troop, it wasn’t because she had nothing else to do, but rather that she actively chose to do those things with you.
Every new mom spends a sleepless night checking in on the baby every fifteen minutes because you’re worried that he’s rolled over onto his stomach/trapped in his swaddle/too cold/ too hot/ the monitor hasn’t made a noise and therefore it must be broken and the baby’s in trouble. And these moments of panic help you understand your own mother’s parenting choices better.
All the times she insisted you wear a jacket as a child, those times she embarrassed you by calling your friend’s parents to make sure they were going to be home when you went there for a sleepover, or insisted that you have a curfew, you can laugh about it now. Because you understand that desire to protect your child from anything and everything, and you don’t know how she ever got over her fear enough to let you get a driver’s license.
One of the hardest parts of being a parent is the worry that you’re not doing it correctly. The concern that you’re going to make a mistake in raising them, that your child will grow up to resent you, is a big one. And try as we might, all parents will and do make mistakes. But realizing that your mother’s short-comings weren’t intentional can melt any lingering resentments you may have about your own childhood. Because really, moms are just doing the best they can, and you understand that now.
Mother’s Day is a time for your own children to show how much they appreciate all the things you do for them. But while you’re enjoying your reign as queen for a day, don’t forget to acknowledge your own mom. After all, if she raised you, she must be pretty awesome.
(image: Blend Images/Shutterstock.com)