The Heartache and the Joys of Motherhood.
At the birth of my first child, my Mother's advice was this: “Take a good look at that tiny little baby in your arms and know this: She will break your heart a thousand times”. Doesn’t that seem like horrible advice for a mother to give? She was right, though.
As the years have passed I have learned exactly what my mother was trying to warn me of. The inevitable.
It starts in the hospital when they are born. A heart so full of joy that it feels like it's breaking. As nurses come in and handle your newborn, sticking them with needles, your baby will cry and the pain your heart feels is unbearable. For me, It took a lot to keep myself from tackling the nurses!
The first time I had to leave my child with a sitter, she was only 6 weeks old. I have never cried so much in my entire life and I was late for work that day because I had to pull the car over several times not being able to see through the tears in my eyes. I called to check on her every hour on the hour. Preschool should have been easier by age two, but when she cried for me as I left her in the classroom; I felt my heart shatter to a thousand pieces. The teachers urged me to go and not look back because I would make it worse for both of us. Oh it got worse! By the end of the week, she didn’t even look back to wave bye bye. I cried again because she didn’t miss me.
Her first day of big school, she was so brave. She was talkative and excited until we got to the hallway and she sat in line with the other kids. I tried to stay, but again, the teachers urged parents not to linger. I looked back at her quivering lips and glistening eyes, knowing she was trying so hard not to cry. Whether she wanted to cry for herself, or for me, I'll never know. I waved and she waved back. I was so proud of her.
My son did not attend a preschool or stay with a sitter until he was four and on his first day of pre-kindergarten, he didn’t bat an eye. “Bye Mom!” Of course, I bawled all the way home. At age seven, I was not allowed to hug or kiss him in front of his friends. They are growing up and my heart breaks every first day of school for the both of them.
Of course, my children don’t mean to break my heart, but I believe a mother’s heart is strong enough to break.
I’ve heard, “I hate you” on several occasions. (and you will too if you haven't already) Once because I said they couldn’t have a cell phone yet! (at age nine!)They also hate me because they don’t like being grounded, but it’s our job as parents to discipline them so that they will learn. The first time it was said, it hurt and I cried. Where did they learn this word, "hate?" It scared me, but as time went by and I recalled my own childhood, it deemed normal behavior and only gave me insight to the teenage years when boundaries will be tested, rebellion will happen, and my heart will break many times more.
Teenagers! Well, they break your heart weekly. However, by now, Mom, you are probably used to it. If it's not the usual teenage rebellion or hateful words, then it's going to be your longing for that little innocent baby they once were. You'll look at them and you'll try to see the child, but it will break your heart when all you can see is the man or woman they are becoming. You'll wish for time to rewind or at least stand still.
As your bank account is drained when graduation comes along, you'll cry again. Your 'baby' is leaving the nest soon. You'll wonder whether you've done a good job as a parent or not. It will see as though they don't really "need" you anymore, but they will, Mom. You'll see. It will just be in a different way than before.
Just like I know my own mother never loved me any less for any pain that I didn’t mean to cause her, I know that my love will not fault either. I’ve sat at my Mom’s table and apologized for the things I’d done, and thanked her for all she’s done for me.
Enjoy all those moments NOW because they won't last forever. And heart break is only a little bit of it all and is just part of the job. The joy out weighs the ache by tons!!
I know that one day my children will understand it all themselves. I know that my heart will break many times more as I watch them grow and I hope it is mostly for the good things like their first school dance, first relationship and first break up, driving, graduating, and marrying. Ah, the bittersweetness of parenthood.
Just remember, if we're lucky, we'll get the joy of GRANDCHILDREN and the joy of watching our 'kids' be parents. Payback!
© 2011 Kelly Pittman