To be honest, Mother’s Day makes me feel kind of embarrassed. Living in Utah where having large families is common, I sometimes wonder if, with my one child, I have the street cred that the moms around me do. Yes, we’ve had some unique challenges with Kisan, but overall he’s a well-mannered and affectionate baby. What about the moms I know who have three, four, five, even eight (yes, eight) children? How do my experiences compare with theirs, and how can I possibly merit the same recognition today that they do?
Sure, being a mom has been challenging. There have been days I’ve been so glad to leave Kisan with the sitter, while I work for a few hours. Or I’ve counted the minutes till nap time. But you know what? I always love it when he can be with me again. Funny how even a few hours away from your baby can make you miss him so much. And he is always so, so happy to see me. That unconditional love is like a drug. You can’t help but want to be around your baby when he shows you that much affection and love.
But I get the feeling that, with more kids, your free time shrinks. You don’t get the chance to miss your kids, because they’re always around. As your kids get older, they don’t love you quite as unconditionally. Sometimes they might think they hate you. If you’re a mom of multiples, there’s so many demands on your time, so many needs to meet, you don’t have any time for yourself. And yet, through it all, you keep giving of your time and yourself—through sleepless nights, frustration, and sickness—because that’s what moms do.
See, I’m still at the early stages of parenting, when my husband can really help share the load. If I’m tired or sick, I can take long naps on the weekends (and sometimes during the week). If I ever get too frustrated, I can bundle my little guy into the car and take him somewhere, because you can do that with just one kid. And since Kisan still naps, I have up to two hours of free time during the day to work on projects, or to rest. Life has gotten harder since becoming a mom, but it’s still pretty good. I admire you moms who have taken the plunge and had larger families. My friends all seem to do it so well.
Having a kid seems like a very irreversible step to me; and I’d hate to get to the point where I have four or five kids and realize, “Holy crap! I can’t handle this!” What if they don’t feel loved and don’t feel important? What if I can’t be a good mom to them, and my kids then hate me forever? (This is the scenario that plays out in my head. Just planning for all contingencies).
You moms—particularly stay-at-home moms—what an immense responsibility you have. You’re the first person who teaches your children to love. Who helps them feel a sense of self-worth. You’re the first line of defense against a sometimes all-too-cruel world, full of bullies and peer pressure and negative media. You make them feel special, simply because they’re your child. That is a huge role to fill, and one I’m only just learning about.
If you have a good partnership, your husband will also rear and influence your children. But since moms are often the full-time caretakers of your children, you’re the ones with the most influence. You’re the ones who internalize every disappointment or hurt your child experiences. Multiply that times however many children you have; it’s no wonder the world feels like they need to honor you, for a day at least.
So, to all my friends and family out there, Happy Mother’s Day. I hope you’re managing motherhood as well as I think you are. Maybe in a few years I’ll have earned a place beside you.