Monday, January 3, 2005

On Motherhood

Moms do not have children in order to give them away.
That’s not how we were wired.
When we have babies, we want to keep them around. Usually for a long time. Like, forever.
(And yes. I know for a fact that birth moms who relinquish their newborns feel the exact same way.)
It saps some measure of joy out of my being every time the kids go on an extended vacation with their dad.
I am a mom. That title defines me more than any of the others I have imprinted on my forehead. In order to be a ‘mom’, I need to have my kids close by. When they’re gone, for, say, a week or so… I no longer am an active mom. My mom-ness takes a back seat.
I miss it. Desperately.
I miss them.

The very first time the kids went to Palm Springs for Spring break with their dad and step mom, I had the opportunity to join a friend for a Spring Break holiday in Phoenix. An older female teacher at the kids’ school mentioned to me that my circumstances were a blessing in disguise. “I don’t know what it’s like to be divorced, but I do know what it’s like to have to share your child. I’m 10 years older than you and am experiencing the tearing apart feeling that comes when in-laws get brought into family dynamics. More than anything, you want your child to be with you; for Christmas, on Thanksgiving, on their birthday, on your birthday… but out of sacrificial, self-less love, you have to let them go. And then find an identity separate from that of being a mom. By going on this holiday, you’re getting a good start.”

So… by the time the kids get married, I’ll be used to this “letting go” business?
Let me tell you, it’s crappy.
I know they are with people who love them. I know their step mom is caring and loving. I know she is not the ‘bad’ guy. I know it’s not fair to ever make the kids feel uncomfortable about being happy with their ‘other’ family situation.
I cannot be so insecure in my relationship with them, that I have to subliminally put down any of my ‘mom’ competition. I am one of at least three moms they will likely have.
It’s my job to release them graciously and with love to establish warm relationships with those other women.

But, I want to be the one they love the most. I want to be the mom who’s fun. Who does thoughtful, perfect mom-stuff. I want to be the mom they want to be with.

They don’t tell you these things in pre-natal classes. That you’re going to invest 20 of your best years into someone so that they can love someone else. And if they love that someone well, then you’ve done a good job.

Man. That’s just messing with my heart.

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