Motherhood is full of surprises: The obvious shock of discovering it is far more work than I ever imagined, the exhaustion of the constant worry over the well being of someone other than myself, the dramatic realization that nothing could have prepared me for the intensity with which I love my children.
There are the sentences I never envisioned saying: Get your hands out of your butt, stop licking your shoes, I never ever want to see a boogie on the wall again, get your hands out of your butt…again. There are the things I never imagined doing: Cleaning poop off the walls and out of the tub and off the carpet, explaining “lady parts” to a three year old big brother, staying up all night to listen to the breath go uneasily in and out of a sick child.
All these things were unexpected when I was dreamily waiting for my children to arrive, but truthfully they didn’t shock me all that much. This was motherhood. I was following in the footsteps of all the mommy warriors before me. I was equipped for this. I would not be shaken by poop or snot or vomit. Or lady parts.
No, what shook me was something more subtle, something I didn’t expect. Something I should have known. What truly shook me to my core was the realization that, in some ways, my children were nothing like me at all. And I had no idea how to bridge the gap between us. We are so quick to see the similarities. She likes the guitar just like mom, he has an eye for bugs just like dad, he has my wavy hair, she has my sense of humor.
But early on, the differences showed themselves. And of course they would. I think of my own parents and how little I have in common with them. There are some similarities, sure, but my experiences in the world are completely different than theirs. I took my own path and in some ways it looks markedly different from theirs. So why was I surprised when my own children were so different from me?
I think as moms we want to do whatever we can to help our children succeed, to feel safe, to be happy. When we discover that our child is so different from us that we don’t know how to help him, it scares us. All the tricks we had up our sleeves for helping our kids, before we had kids, are out the window. We need to find new ways to relate, to learn together, to connect.
The beauty of the differences between parent and child is that both have so much to teach and so much to learn. We can be open to our child’s view of the world and share ours lovingly. We can immerse ourselves in our child’s passions and show him the things that inspire us. We can honor who our child is and he will likely return the favor. We can find common ground in our immense love for one another.
This Mother’s Day, I wish you many moments of discovery. May you continue to discover the uniqueness of your children and with it, your own ability to honor that uniqueness. Enjoy the fruits of your labor. These little beings are one part you and lots of parts awesome. Know that together you are a force to be reckoned with.
Happy Mother’s Day!
This post was written as part of a special Mother’s Day project created by the Pottstown Mercury Town Square blogging community.
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