I gave birth to my first child shortly before Mother’s Day 2004. I did not have a birth plan. I did not subscribe to a specific parenting philosophy. I was simply a newbie whose biggest fear was dropping my wet baby on his head during his first bath.
Thankfully, my own mom was there when the inaugural soaking took place. She boosted my confidence and helped every step of the way. Over the next year, mom offered invaluable advice. Sometimes, I would ignore that advice. More often, I discovered it was spot-on.
It took some time, but I eventually found my own footing.
Eleven years into motherhood, I am still surprised how different I am from my own mom. She was quiet and nurturing. I am loud and impatient. She loved having her kids home and in their jammies eating warm cereal on a Sunday morning. I am typically racing around from ice rink to baseball game while tossing cold Pop Tarts to the back of minivan.
When it comes to fight versus flight, I am a fighter. I do not get worked up over many things, but when I do, hell hath no fury like Marianne battling for her babies. My mom was more apt to let stuff go and trust in the good Lord to right life’s injustices.
It wasn’t as if I ever made a conscious decision to parent so differently from my own mom. My temperament is just more similar to my dad’s. The man ran a tight ship and discouraged dissenters. He was easily annoyed and a bit of a yeller. His culinary expertise was limited to hot dogs.
In the good cop/bad cop scenario, my mom was the good cop, and dad was there to back her up. It worked swimmingly for them.
In my own marriage, I am the bad cop. My husband is more like my mom. He enjoys preparing warm meals. He reads the kids’ emotional states better than I do. And every night, you can be sure to find a pile of arms and legs tangled up on the couch as he watches T.V. with his boys.
Sometimes, I feel disheartened that I do not possess the infinite patience and kindness of my mom. But then I am reminded of the first and best piece of advice I have ever been given. It was back when I was recovering from my c-section that first Mother’s Day so many years ago.
As I sat in my hospital bed, exhausted and an emotional wreck, I felt certain I was about to screw things up royally.
My mom simply offered:
“Just love him. The rest will take care of itself.”
It was the most assuring advice I have ever received.
Whether you make warm pork chops and fresh greens each night or pour a bowl of Corn Flakes, it is the love your child feels that is most essential.
I also want to wish my own mom a wonderful day and thank her for all the times she convinced me that I “had this.”
Even when I didn’t.
And thank you for never, ever dropping me on my head.