Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What is a mother?

Chris asked me the other day what it meant to be a mother. I had no idea what he meant. "Do you mean like the definition? As in, one who gives birth." No, he meant more in the what does it mean to you kind of way. Strangely, though, I still didn't know quite how to answer him. The truth is this--I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was one. That may seem silly given that clearly we made the choice to become parents willingly. What I mean is that I spent much of my early adult life planning to be a biology teacher. In high school, I knew that was what I wanted to be. In college, that was the direction I took and, despite (or because of) a small detour to get a master's degree in paleobiology, I became a biology teacher. It was fine. And I do mean that--I met some great people, enjoyed my job, had some fantastic students (and some not-so-fantastic ones!) and generally got very good reviews for what I was doing. It was fine.

Then I had a baby...and suddenly "fine" wasn't what I wanted. This little person, this tiny little being who had landed in our family, needed so much more than fine! Unfortunately, I was stuck--I was the main income for our family and I was also the health insurance. While we knew we could figure out a way to live on very little salary, we didn't feel okay giving up health insurance with a new little one. So back to work I went. I had the summer off, but the following year, I had to go back. That year, things got bad on so many levels that I simply had to quit. We spent many months that year figuring things out. And we did. When the school year ended in 2004, I walked out and never went back. I have never, not even on my worst days, thought of going back (okay, maybe on my worst days I dream of having a career that pays actual cash...). Then Megan was born, then Sophie was born, then Evan was born...and here I am.

So this is what I do. This is what I have given up everything to do. When people ask my husband what he does, he says he is a geologist. What do I do? I'm a mom. A homeschooling, breastfeeding, cloth diaper washing, gentle discipline practicing MOM. It is what I was actually meant to be. The biology teacher thing was just a little aside that helped pay the bills while I was warming up to do this and to be this.

Today the dental hygienist told me she was simply in awe at how beautiful, cooperative, kind and just plain nice our kids were. So while I'm still a little sad I didn't get the convertible I wanted for Mother's Day, I do have something better. I have wonderful kids and an amazing husband who supports my dreams. Probably this still doesn't answer his question...but I guess if I didn't get my convertible, he doesn't get his answer.

Happy (late) Mother's Day to all the wonderful moms out there--whether you get to hold your children in your arms or just in your hearts, you are all amazing to me.

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