Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reflections on motherhood

This is a clip of a response I made to Leah McLaren's recent musings on Motherhood in her Globe and Mail column...

Having children a decision? Every child I had (I had 3 boys, now 19, 17 and 10) was either a surprise or a shock. I knew nothing about children when I had my first at 30. I knew nothing about marriage or domesticity for that matter (but that’s another story). Motherhood is a “crash course.” In the spirit of “sink or swim”, everything you need to know is learned in an instant – in that first 24/7 week; at the end of which you are proclaimed “expert” in the minutely narrow field of YOUR CHILD.

My sons are bright, personable and damn good-looking! When it happened, I knew nothing about being a mother. My first son spoke sentences at 16 months. I thought nothing of it. I thought that the few other children I saw must be “slow.” I learned as much if not more from my children than they learned from me. I learned patience. I learned to listen. I learned the finer points of empathy. I re-learned what it was like to be a child - that was a lesson AND a gift!

From the beginning, I had a sense of how momentous the smallest moments could be. I deliberately freeze-framed some cherished times. With Donnie, my first, it was the 1:00 AM feedings when he would fall asleep after I fed him. His tiny head would droop and I would kiss the back of his chubby neck, lingering a moment as I savoured the absolute peace; knowing in my heart that I would always have that “happy thought” to think back on. With Ryan, my second, I filed away the picture of him running towards me after I let him drop off mail at the post office. Long, dirty-blond hair bobbing as he ran, I held my arms out to catch him and spin him around and around in an exuberant pas de deux. With Kyle, my third, every day is like a gift. I had him at 40. I was in precarious health before being pregnant. It was pointing to MS. As my pregnancy advanced I felt healthier. My symptoms vanished and I have not looked back since. He is my inspiration, my motivation and my personal trainer!

I can personally advocate motherhood even though it’s been a largely single-handed endeavour. I furtively gathered my sons and fled from their father 5 years ago. Over the years my little boys and I have had fun going on “adventures”. This can mean being lost or simply exploring new territory but its fun to be Peter Pan again! It’s wonderful to re-live your childhood.