With Mother’s Day coming soon, I’ve been thinking a lot this week about being a Mom to this tiny little lady…and my growing and changing relationship with my Mom, now that I’m 31 and a mom myself.
If you were to ask my mom, she’d tell you that I’m a pretty stubborn person. She’ll also tell you that she knows me so well. Both things are entirely true. And both things probably required a lot of patience on her part. You see, in my late teenage and now adult years, I have been very fond of the phrase “I would NEVER…(fill in the blank)”. And yet, some of those things that I claim I will ‘never’ do, I end up doing.
When I was a senior in high school and looking at colleges, I told my mom I would never go to college in Maine. “It’s too close to home, I gotta get out of here” I told her, refusing to look at Bowdoin or Colby. Offering to take me school shopping in Freeport one Saturday, my mom drove right past the Freeport exit and right up to the Bowdoin admissions office, where she signed us up for a campus tour. “But Mom,” I protested, “I would never apply to Bowdoin!”
Six months and an early application later, I had not only applied to Bowdoin but had moved into the dorms for my freshman year, a mere 30 minutes from home. (But in my defense, I steadfastedly refused to call home for the first three months, preferring instead to ‘pretend’ I was far away at college.)
Upon graduating from Bowdoin, I moved myself to Boston and got into a fabulous routine of teaching, running, and making new friends. I was young! I was single! I was living the good life! “We miss you here” my mom would say. But I declared, with gusto, that I would never move back to Maine.
Foot in mouth? I now have a mortgage on a house in Portland.
In my mid-twenties and navigating the ever-confusing world of dating, I would sometimes lament to my mom about the latest guy and what sort of thing he was lacking. “What about Fred?” she would unfailingly ask (with a hopeful tone in her voice). “MOM! I would never get back with Fred. That is so over!”
Well, Baby ‘Bee is the product of a happy marriage with the one Fred Follansbee. Apparently it’s not so over like I once thought.
My mom listened to all these stubborn, bullheaded statements with a calm face and never once said “I told you so” (though she’d certainly have the right). Whether a gentle question, or a subtle nudge in the right direction, she’s always seemed to really get me, knowing what I want before I really do. There was never a strong hand, never “You need to do x, y, z.” I was raised to make my own decisions and to consider all angles when doing so.
Admittedly, I am a slow processor. It takes me a long while to work through things and make decisions. But I guess moms have the advantage of distance and experience to sense, to feel, and to really know, what is best for their children. Even when they are dense and stubborn, like my adult self.
I hope that I can give this same kind of support and gentle guidance to Baby ‘Bee as she grows up. But so far, three months in, I feel like I know exactly nothing about being a mom. And seeing that my mom made is through 31 years of mothering three kids, I think I have a lot to learn from her. Happy mothers day!