Friday, May 24, 2013

On Being a Mom/Mother/Mama/Nana/Grandma/Grandmother-The List Goes On

Billy and me in front of Old College, Aberystwyth

Recently the daughter of a friend blogged about being tired as a mother, sometimes filled with self-doubt, aggravation, and running from hugs one minute to time out the next with her small brood of four, not so small when one considers that for most of the waking day it's a four-to-one ratio.  She went on to add that it was a burden to young struggling moms to have older women return their complaints of exhaustion or frustration with the cherry and oft-spoken, "You'll miss this time when it'is gone."  Though well meaning, and I've said it myself, I could suddenly and totally see her point.  When one is battling for sanity in a sea that threatens to drown, one needs a life preserver and a word of encouragement not a reminder that it is an opportunity for a character building experience. It set me to thinking about my own child-rearing days.  I wrote her a response.

The not so great news is that you'll never stop being a mother, even after they're launched. You become cheerleader, sometimes confidant, therapist, and sometimes "mom-on-a-shelf," who is taken down when needed. But this confusing time is beautiful too. Just when you know how to be a mama, you have to learn how to be a mom/mother to adults that you can't scoop up and put in time out. The frustrations and feelings of inadequacy are equal but different and sometimes you want to scream into a pillow or put your head in an oven (not really, well kinda sorta), but you love over and above, in between, and forever. 

It's this love that is the constant through the confusing stages of life. So hang in there, lovely girl. Take naps with the kids when you can. Be kind to yourself because you are a brilliant mom and just exactly made to order for your little brood. Laugh out loud. Dance. Allow yourself to be human. Motherhood will drive you to your knees, to tears, and to the heights of testimony. It's all part of of an amazing journey. 

Blessings on you from a survivor!

Which then brought me to my time in Wales, away from hugs and kisses and relegated to Skype, email, Facebook, and the occasional letter.  There's nothing quite like a handwritten letter, but I digress...

Our oldest son, Billy. found himself in London recently and generously planned an extra day to visit his mom.  That's me smiling in the top photo.  "I've got a car," he emailed.  "Looks to be about 2 hours from London as the crow flies.  How far is it?"

Well, for one we have rooks in Wales.  They are noisy but had little if anything to do with road design.  The north/south roads were made by the Romans when they invaded Briton years ago.  They have multi-lanes and are fast.  Unfortunately the east/west roads were made by the early Druids, who were either following cattle or sheep, or were so deep in their own thoughts that they went round in the most imaginative curvilinear paths that it is nearly a seven hour drive from London to Aberystwyth, longer if you stop for a picture or a break.

After some checking, I found that there is a "fast" train from London to Birmingham that takes only an hour and another that travels from Birmingham to Aberystwyth that takes only three... so that's four hours each way.  (I didn't know that Euston Station was an hour away from his London based hotel. 

Billy's a good sport, a very good sport.  At 18 months old he gathered toys for the other children in nursery and passed them out.  He grew to be a great big brother... we talk a lot about his big-brotherhood over holiday tables... I now understand much better what all the upstairs noise was after I so lovingly and tenderly put them all to bed and collapsed in a wilted heap on the living room sofa near my husband.  In my case there was an 8:1 ratio for the bulk of our daylight hours.

But back to my post, these are not photoshopped pictures.  They are real.  Billy came to Aberystwyth in spite of the inconvenience and added travel time to his already busy schedule. We shared castle ruins, college campus, St. Michael's cathedral, Old College, a double ice-cream to celebrate his birthday that had just passed and the occasional sit-down to just talk.  We walked the Prom and viewed the Irish Sea from the end of the Royal Pier.  We ate at Wetherspoon's where he ate Dragon sagsage, visited the Ceredigion Museum, and, of course, stopped at the Sweetie's shop to send home British treats for the grands.

I guess what I'm saying is that there are joys and challenges that are part of each stage of motherhood.  Would I trade the downs if it meant I'd miss the ups?  Never.  How would I come to recognize the sweetness?   Would I trade the plethora of reasons that created sleepless nights?  No, because they brought me to my knees and taught me faith.  Families come in all shapes and sizes, each with an assortment of personalities, challenges, and enough"growing experiences" to fit all comers.  I love my family with all its good and not so good.  Why?  Because they are mine.

Thank you, son.  Your visit was just the best.

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