When Motherhood, knocked upon my door, I never answered. Yes, it tapped louder and louder as I approached 40, but I turned a deaf ear.
It’s not just a choice, it’s a lifelong commitment of caring and compassion, the least paying and highest paying job in life, and I just never submitted a resume.
The late great Katherine Hepburn was once asked, if she didn’t regret not having children, her response was, “If I had a sick child lying on the couch, and a matinee to perform, I’d put a pillow over the child’s face and run off to the theater.” Of course, she was joking, but in every joke, there’s a grain of truth.
To put it simply, I just wanted a career. Coming from a broken home, where truths were broken to excuse bad behavior, I learned not to put my biological eggs into any basket. I remember when I was 19, going to my mom and telling her that I’d been purposed to, her response. She put down her drink, her cigarette, her newspaper and looked me squarely in the eyes, “Katrina, any fool can get married, once you do, everything changes. So if you have dreams, do them. Oh and by the way, when you’re in love, you won’t come ask your old grey haired mom, instead you’ll come and tell her.”
Her words startled me, every one of my friends was getting married, some going to college just to find a man. It was the late ‘70s, the twilight zone of the Women’s Movement, as the curtain was slowly rising for women in the workplace.
My mom would tell me how limited her choices were in life, that the role of Wife, was coveted. As with many of her generation, she walked down the aisle of marriage, not the stage of higher education. She use to tell me that she wouldn’t trade us kids for a million dollars, but I suspect she would have loved at least a peak over the wall.
The mothers I’ve known have exhausted me with their stories of raising their kids, first babies, then toddlers, teens and beyond. From the nest to the next, always hoping for the best. It’s such a gamble, a roll of the dice, a terrifying sacrifice; it takes great bravery to sit at such an honorable table.
It’s not just “a” job, it’s “The” job of a lifetime, where a woman steps out of the spotlight and into the shadows, forever taking a supporting role. With the hopes and dreams that their production will get rave reviews, is a sell-out, with standing room only.
I’ve heard that women who don’t have careers but have kids, at some point in their lives will regret their choice and visa versa. I’ve heard that some women have kids in hopes that in their old age, they will be on the receiving end of caretaking. I’ve heard that dropping off a 6 week old baby at daycare is now acceptable. I’ve heard mothers say their kids are their greatest achievement, I’ve heard mothers say that their kids are their biggest disappointments, I’ve heard a lot of “her say”, and I believe it all to be true.
Perhaps, I am fooling myself and soothing the savage beast of missed motherhood by loving the children in my life. I’m a pretty descent Aunt, to my biological and borrowed extended family. Being told that I would have made a great mom, I think silently to myself, “would I?” ~ which then makes me think, “Popeye” and I’m off in my mind, being me.
I think I’m too selfish for motherhood, but have just the right touch of compassion for “Aunt-hood.” When I want to write, to create, I need silence, unbroken blackness of the mind, uninterrupted delving into the deep. How J. K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series with a kid balanced on her hip mystifies me.
Mother’s Day is today, May 10th, where I envision a day of pampering, a breakfast of burnt toast in bed, macaroni necklaces, and long bubble baths of escapism. It’s one day out of 365, where Moms rise to the top of the mountain for a brief moment, a lifetime climb to the summit.
I kind of wish I was a Mom on Mother’s Day, I’d complain about how much I’d given up, oh the sacrifices made, in hopes of a dinner at a ritzy restaurant. I’d gently suggest returnable grandchildren visits, of tasks needing tended to, of nap needing and the wonderments of travel to far off places.
But alas, this year, I’ll do what I’ve done for the last 40 years; I’ll miss my mom.
I’ll hesitate as I go to pick up the phone and call her, I’ll eat dinner and imagine her sitting across from me. I’ll feel the emptiness of orphanage as I watch families celebrate. It’s always the same, a day mixed with envy and a passing twinge of regret.
Ode To Mothers ~ by me
Salute to those who walk this earth
Down the path of giving birth
I tip my hat, I cheer for you
Of the Majesty of what Mothers do
To those of you who’ve given your all
Watched us grow from small to tall
You showed the way, you shined the light
Doing your best, both day and night
It’s your special day, that’s what they say
An endless job, without any pay
So that’s why on the 10th of May
We celebrate Mother’s Day
Today’s Musing: “Not having a mom, is like being a balloon without a string” ~ Katrina Curtiss