Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Becoming Mother

I used to know a lot, or at least I thought I did. When I was a teenager, I was so smart... so much smarter than my parents. Or so I thought. But the older I get, the more I realize I don't know a dang thing. I'm not old enough to have kids. But then again, I did just turn 30, and if I am not old enough now I don't suppose I ever will be. I wonder if my mom ever said the same thing? She would have had more validity in saying so since she had my brother when she was only 21 years old. Contrary to what many people think about having children and despite how ominous the 24/7 responsibility may seem, that's not really why I don't feel old enough. I have been on my own and taking care of myself for a long time, and I think I do a pretty good job of taking care of Cameron as well, so that's not really an issue. I am more concerned about what I know. That's not to say that mothers/parents know everything when they have children because they most certainly do not, and if they waited until they did the entire human population would disappear. It has made me consider what I really do know and not only how much of that knowledge is really worth passing on but how I manage to do it.

After thirty years of going to school, reading books, perusing newspapers, watching television, flipping through magazines, traveling, working, listening to the radio, music, life... my head is full of knowledge, some of it valuable and some of it completely useless. Unfortunately, I think some of the useless information tends to crowd out the important knowledge. If only there were some way to dump the useless information and prevent it from hording space in the high end real estate that is my brain.
How I respect mothers.
I cannot count how many times I have called my mom with a question about cooking, home improvement, travel, money, etc. I believe that she must know everything, and if on the off chance that I call and she doesn't have the answer to my question I am surprised and almost speechless. If mom doesn't know, then how am I supposed to find the answer? That's quite a change from my teenage years when my mom didn't know anything. What did she know about fashion or television or boys or high school? She had obviously never been where I was. That just goes to show how foolish and ignorant I was as a teenager. It wasn't until I was much older that I began to really appreciate my mother.

Since I can't really remember being under the age of 5 very well with the exception of scattered and random memories, I don't remember what my mom did to teach me. I know she read to me, and I know she took me to kindergarten with her when she was a teacher's aid when my brother was in school. I know she must have taught me words and how to count and abc's. I have always been a voracious reader, which is something I picked up from my mother who could probably read several books in a week if she wasn't getting her master's and working full time. She still finds the time to pick up a book and have it finished by the next day. I always tease her about the mountains of books in her home and why she even bothers to buy them from Costco the way she does. But I read because my mom read. I learn because I read.
When I think about all the things I have learned or hope to learn or wish I had learned, it is almost overwhelming. I don't know if it is possible for me to teach our children all of these things or even if I will know how. I want to teach them manners, to open doors for people and give up their seats for pregnant women and the elderly. I want to teach them how to respect the earth, to be green, throw away their trash in the appropriate place, recycle, use less and be resourceful. I want to teach them about eating good foods and why it's important not to waste things and why we should always buy things locally if possible. I want to teach them to be strong and independent, to make their own choices and know that they can do anything they really desire to do the way my mom taught me. I want them to know and recognize who they really are and to be strong enough to stick up for themselves. I want to teach them about music, piano, guitar, singing and appreciating the great talents that have gone before... jazz, classical, big band, folk, among so many others. I want to teach them about art, opera, theater and ballet so that they know there is beauty all around us. I want to teach them that stuff will never make them happy but good friends, family and love will. I want them to appreciate the world around them, the city they live in, the home they have, the opportunities that abound, the windows that open and the tender mercies that fall on them.

Perhaps I feel most inadequate about teaching them of Jesus Christ, charity, service and doing good to your fellow men. We all want our children to turn out well, to be good responsible citizens and members of their communities. We all want them to succeed and be happy, but despite our best efforts, there will be times when our children will hate us. Some of them may not do the things we would like them to do. They will make mistakes. They will break our hearts. They will probably talk about us with their friends and maybe even make fun of us. But the most important thing I can ever teach my children is that I love them. No matter what. That despite all of those things they will probably do (because I did them to my parents), I will still love them. Cameron will still love them. That is one of those things I learned from my parents. The mistakes I made, the awful things I said, the stupid things I did never changed the fact that they loved me. And even though Cameron teases me for how I talk to my parents on the phone, he knows I love them. There was never a question about my parents love for me even though as a teenager I felt like they didn't love me because they didn't allow me certain privileges. Little did I know that they loved me so much that they couldn't allow them. I can only hope to be as strong, courageous and loving as my parents.

And so motherhood hovers in my future, and I reflect on my own mother(s) wondering how on earth they managed to do all they did. I could say I am not quite cut out for motherhood, but then who really is? What is a mother but someone who loves, nurtures, teaches, smiles and delights in the daily successes and beauties of life? She is not a superhero despite how she may appear and how she manages to accomplish superhero tasks throughout the day. She is still mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend. A rainbow of roles we call womanhood. The greatest tribute I could ever give my mother is to try to be as good a mother to my own children as she was to me relying on her example... one who knows best.

9 comments:

Tris & Ken said...

Motherhood is hovering in your VERY NEAR future!! You will be great and your kids will absorb all of these things that you want to teach them from you. Can't wait to see your little earth-friendly, locally grown little guy! Boys are so fun, he will melt your heart so fast! It's like falling in love all over again, you are going to love it. You will be a great mom!

Rebecca said...

I just figure that you'll spend so much time being mother that day by day it will all happen. I think it was Mark Twain who talks about being a young boy and thinking how little his father knew. Then growing up and being astonished at how much he had learned in seven years...

Beth, Cody and Morgan said...

Now that I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed...j/k that was a nice tribute to mothers. I think that when they're this young you just teach by example...if you read to them or give them books to play with and read yourself they'll get it. If you are a kind, thoughtful, spiritual, loving person, they'll feel it. They will mimic you until they are old enough to start learning on their own. No worries, it all comes with time...that's why they can't move or talk at first...everyone in the house needs time to adjust.

Ada Bowler said...

Thanks for summing up for me what I feel as a mother--you have such a gift for writing. The great thing about being a mom is that everyday you learn what you can do better the next day; maybe that's why our moms are so wise after years and years of the day to day learning. I hope I get there someday! Happy Mother's Day!

Kristyn said...

Is this your mother's day gift to your mom? She's got to be crying and beaming!! I know you, Nik, and you are going to be amazing...and the first few years they think you know everything, so you have time to get into the swing of things.

Annalisa said...

Love the phrase "Rainbow of Roles" Thanks for the uplift. Annalisa (Courtside back in the BYU day) married Geoff (Somerset). Email sometime, smiles!!

Scotty Sarah Asher Graham said...

You will be a great mom. You are starting a little older than usuall mormon girls and I have discovered that older moms seem to be more patient and not so stressed. How exciting!!!

familia Bybaran said...

You will be a great mother just because you are thinking about it like this. It is a serious task, but you are more than ready. You will be an exceptional mother. I agree with some of your anxiety though. I often feel overwhelmed.

Nicole Cave said...

It really is true that you teach by example...the good and the bad...you will forever watch what you do and say around your kids now!!