Fourteen years ago yesterday I became a momma. Well, I suppose I might say that I began my mothering career nine months before that. I was unwed and terrified, but I faced my circumstance, made up my mind and dove in. I have never regretted my decision to carry that child in my body. (Often I’d regretted marrying her father the month before she was born, but how can I even regret that? I would not have the other children or life experiences I have today.) Two years later another daughter was born to me, and roughly two years later my first son. Within twelve years time I’d borne seven children; four girls and three boys. I will not bear any more.
When I knew I was going to be a mother I also committed to raise any children born to me. I would not send them to day-care so that I could work or have free time, I would not send them to public school for their education, I would even go easy on the baby-sitters. I have sacrificed and worked my tail off to stay at home with them, to give them my constant love and attention, to the best of my ability. Yep, some days I still feel like I am a total failure, but overall I see it is paying off and I certainly feel it’s been rewarding. We have more joy and love than frustration and sorrow. They have a human for a momma, is all. They are little humans, too. But we are humans communicating and working together at this life thing. This is the greatest responsibility and the greatest privilege I will ever know.
My youngest is not quite three years old. If I reckon on him being out of the house by age twenty I am not yet halfway through this parenting thing. Actually, I hear it never really ends and I’m sure I will be mothering until I die, but I may be able to focus on some other things when my youngest goes off to find his way in the world, maybe even before. We’ll see. Today I look at the fourteen year old beauty standing as tall as myself, eyes sparkling with wit, laughing the most contagious laughter you’ve ever heard, and I feel at once honored and intimidated. Together we have to ease her into adulthood and wean me. Then her sister after her, their brother after them, etc.. In my head I know how it works; the application is trickier. I try every day to be flexible and understanding, to make good decisions, trying to balance their freedoms and responsibilities for a smooth adjustment from dependent to independent; holding them close to letting them go. Maybe in another twelve years I’ll have it down pat and the now-three-year-old will be a piece of cake, though I suspect these things never go the way you plan.
For fourteen years I have had the most beautiful lives so intricately entwined with mine. Seven distinct individuals that the universe saw fit to bring into existence through me. I do not mean this in a providential sense, do not mistake me. Believing, as I did once, that Yehovah himself selected me to be mother to these seven special people is not half as amazing to me as my current understanding of the chance of the impersonal universe. How wonderful to me that I should happen to exist at all, let alone exist so entwined with these other lives! Of all the star stuff in the universe, here we are. I look at any of my children and try to remember that they were once within my body, then my mind zips off in a dazzling regress and I see mankind evolving, our earth evolving, the universe evolving… stars exploding and being reborn, bright gases swirling… And here we are.