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Looking Back...At Being A Mom

Updated on May 6, 2015
Sallie Mullinger profile image

Sallie is a retired mother and grandmother who has written short stories for most of her life. Her stories are from her heart to yours.

We don't know until so many years later, but the best years of our lives were those years when we were Mommies

Sometimes its hard to remember being a Mom. The “Mom” part of me when the minutes and hours of my days hinged on my 4 children and their lives, seems as though it belongs in another space and time and I guess after all these years....it does.

I mean, I know I AM one, but when I look back and try to remember those days so long ago, much of it is a blur.

I have photographs to prove that I was a Mom and that I had those 4 children. And I have scattered memories of each of them. I have images in my minds eye of birthdays and Christmases and Easters and special occasions. But the day to day of being a Mom is harder to remember.

I remember being harried and rushed. I remember feeling guilty a lot of the time, for so many things and yet probably for nothing that amounted to much. And I remember crying because, often, I felt like such a failure. And in having those feelings, I think I often lost sight of the simple moments that make up a lifetime.

I know I felt driven to be a better mother to my children than my own mother was to me and therein was my “bete noire”...the bane of my existence...the unattainable goal of perfection.

All of my babies are grown and gone. And there is some pride and satisfaction in knowing that what I do have today are 4 adults who are good and decent people who have all carved out their own lives and yet I also know that it's a crap shoot, this raising of children and judging from my own life..much of our success as adults can be credited to our own doing. But we parents want and we need to take some credit for a job well done.

For me, life changed dramatically from the hectic, often insane, schedules to quiet and almost anti-climactic when my kids left home to search for their own stories. And I, as we all are at some point, was left to remember.

From the moment we know they are on their way, we parents begin a journey of planning. We read everything we can get our hands on because we want to be the perfect parent. We don't want to make any mistakes and we are so hell bent on doing exactly that, that we don't realize that we are making one of the biggest mistakes.....trying to be perfect.

The books said to be relaxed and I wasn't. I was even somewhat detached. I think I was afraid to let myself completely go and just be myself, for somehow being myself seemed a scary thing and would they still love me if they knew the real me..whatever that was?

There is a certain amount of joy in not being perfect and letting life just happen. I look back and very much wish that I hadn't been so regimented and so much by the book. But then I wouldn't be human if I didn't have regrets.

We, as Mom's, oh we have regrets. The list is endless. Did I read to them enough? Did I tell them I love them enough? Was I too strict? Not strict enough? Did I worry too much about silly things? Did I play with them enough? Did I care too much about housework? And did I remember to say “I love you” no matter how angry, tired or frustrated I was at the end of the day?

And you cannot have regrets without having had mistakes. I gave one of my son's a double dose of medicine to calm him down because of colic. When I realized my mistake, I watched him like a hawk for days, sure that I had caused some god awful anomaly in him. Hes 34 now and seems normal, so I think I can finally breathe a sigh of relief!

We can eat ourselves alive over the regrets and the worries of how we did or didn't do it. And ultimately we are the ones who pay for that.

I know now, looking back, that easily the biggest mistake I made, was not living in the moment. And I know that the moments existed because I have the photographs to prove that they did. Oh how I wish that I had stopped and really made the effort to remember the moments and not just thinking ahead to what I was going to cook for dinner or that I had a mountain of laundry to do or that the bathroom was disgusting or that I didn't have enough money to take them all to the dentist (bad mother that I was).

The regrets are much easier to remember than the moments. Isn't that strange? I have a list a mile long of the regrets and yet so few moments that I can call upon.

But Im working on that. I know that the moments are there, somewhere in my memory. And I want to have them to take out, once in a while, to thumb thru and smile over and remind myself of the sweet days.

However, the moments that I do remember, I savor. I pull them out and mull them over and even if I don't have an accurate accounting of every, single thing in that moment, I have enough to cause a smile and sometimes a few tears.

Did I love them? More than I even knew....but I had learned to not let anyone get too close because letting anyone in meant opening my heart up for hurt. I kept a shield around my heart that even my own children didn't break thru. And all these years later, that would be my single, biggest regret. Holding back, hurt me more than it hurt them. I did all of the things a Mom is supposed to do in order to raise smart, confident, strong adults. But I didn't do enough to let myself be loved.

Oh but now that they are all gone, I have tried to reassure myself that I did my job the best that I could. And with age, truly does come wisdom. Now I know that as bad a Mom as I thought I was, I was my own worst enemy. I only need to look at them to know that in my own, muddled, half assed way, I must have done something right.

There really are no books to tell you everything. And there really isn't any well-meaning advice from other Mom's or relatives which will give you sure-fired answers. No one else really has any more answers than you do. And the only expert....is you.

The simple truth is that mothering is mostly trial and error and a hell of a lot of trust in yourself. Mothering is a humbling experience. I don't know anything else, in the entire world, that can challenge your confidence and your ability as much as being a mother.

Nothing else plays havoc with your heart and soul the way being a mother does. For the rest of our lives, we Mom's, are connected to those who came from us. And only another mother could understand the power of the mother/child bond. It never weakens. It never changes. Neither time nor distance can claim it. And even death cannot sever it.

And there is truly nothing else in this whole world that can bring on tears or put a lump in your throat, more than a memory from long ago of sweet, sticky kisses and fat little arms wrapped tightly around your neck.

As I inch closer to old age, I realize that the root of being a mother is all about love. But its not just about loving them....its also about loving yourself.

“There comes a time in everyone's life, when all you can see are the years passing by”

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