I wrote the following a year or so ago, when I felt a little low. Tomorrow, I become Mom again.
I miss something and I miss it a lot. Ever since my Beloved left home for college, I miss being “Mom.” I didn’t realize it until a few months had passed. Of course, in the beginning, Beloved called for us to bring him more stuff, more food, moral support. But soon those calls for help slowed down and eventually came only once or twice a month.
I looked around and no one needed me. Beloved was my traveling companion just as I was his chauffeur. My driving companion was gone, the questions were gone, the conversations were gone and the asking was gone. By golly, even his laundry was gone. My activities were no longer dictated by his activities. My schedule no longer was impacted by whether or not he needed something that day. Our dinner plans became simplified, no longer needing to take into consideration his taste or quantity requirements. After 18 years, I no longer had to get up to make sure he had a warm breakfast before sending him off to school.
A big part of me, the caring and nurturing aspects of my persona was no longer required, just wrapped up and put away until the call came again sometime in the future for “Mom.” I finally realized that the sense of loss that I was feeling was my need to hear it, the word “Mom.” That single word “Mom” was my conditioned response, my Pavlovian equivalent to “I need you.”
You just can’t turn that off can you? Queen Maker offered to make the supreme sacrifice and take all the caring and nurturing I can give him, but that usually leads to him making me feel like a Queen, if you know what I mean. So it isn’t really the same thing, is it? Don’t get me wrong; nothing is more delicious in this world that being Queen Maker’s wife, if the name bestowed upon him in not evident enough. But this is about being called “Mom” and I most definitely am not his mother.
I wasn’t done hearing the word “Mom.” I literally looked around. Where are my other children, isn’t there a spare somewhere around here? Why didn’t I have another one lying around? I wasn’t finished. I need someone to call me Mom and I need to hear it EVERY DAY. Beloved is well on his way in becoming self-sufficient and self-reliant. Although he knows we have his back, our relationship is becoming more like great friends, which is exactly how Queen Maker and I had planned it. Excellent, but this does nothing to satisfy my selfish mom needs.
I started to envy my three sisters. They have more than one child and each one of them have a gift that I will never have, a daughter. Ah, those daughters. The relationships I watched develop between mother and daughter are beautiful and the bonds between them are well crafted in our family.
Youngest Sister has two boys and the divine Ms. M. who is in her first year of college and away from home. It is obvious that they are each other’s BFF. She calls Mom at least two to three times a day sharing triumphs and despair.
Middle Sister has the fairy like and talented Ms. A. who is eleven years old. Her older brother is now in his first year of college at State. See, Middle Sister still has one lying around – and she’s a girl! Middle Sister is letting me share, bless her soul.
The Sister After Me has a more unique situation. Not only does she have a son who is 28, she has a 30-year-old daughter, gifted Ms. T, with a little girl and boys of her own making Sister After Me a grandmother at 37. She is twice blessed because she is also a new mom again in mid-life with the sweet Ms. E., now four years old.
Years and years of the beautiful call, “Hey, Mom!” ahead for these lucky women. I’ve heard that a daughter is a daughter forever. Sigh, but enough with the daughter envy.
I felt as though my identity had suddenly changed. I wasn’t ready to be non-Mom. When Beloved was born, a new identity was bestowed upon me. I joined the Mom Club and suddenly felt legitimized as an Adult Woman entrusted with the care of a precious life. Then, if by chance your Beloved turns out to be a wonderful person, my status not only as Mom but also as Successful Parent increased significantly in the eyes of others. Hey, we are really good at raising a child. Who knew? Everyone loved Beloved and I was proud to be his Mom. He increased my standing greatly. My identity thus evolved to be, Beloved’s Mom.
But now, no one would realize that. From now on when someone new comes into my life, Beloved is not there standing next to me. They will not understand who I really am because no one is calling me “Mom.” The labels I wore so proudly are no longer evident. The name “Mom” ringing out made me feel younger because all the Moms in the room would turn to the sound. Whether you were in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Yes, I too have a child in the room, and our membership in this club makes us all seem younger.
The next thought made me cringe. If I was no longer to be known as Beloved’s Mom or just Mom, how would people perceive me? What was my next identity in life? I will soon turn fifty facing menopause and becoming an old lady. No. No. NO. NO! Quick someone let me borrow a kid.
My own dear Mom always puts things in perspective. “Honey, don’t worry, you still have a chance. Your aunt thought she was going through menopause and found out she was pregnant at the age of 50. Remember? Of course, she had to be hospitalized for exhaustion several times in the first three years, but you still can get pregnant. You’ll be 50 soon; there is still hope yet. You may still be blessed just like your aunt. That would be wonderful. Don’t look so horrified. It could still happen. It would be a good thing.”
Oh my god! What I am really asking for here? I was just feeling sorry for myself. I just wanted someone to call me Mom again. Wait. I mean I just missed being called Mom, Wait. I don’t want another child NOW, not really. I’m going to be 50. I work with 4 and 5 year olds everyday at school. That should be good enough. Really I don’t know why I was complaining so much. Just because none of them can call me Mom… Wait, I don’t mean that. Knock on some wood. No that’s laminate, that doesn’t count. Find wood now! No, I’m not calling you Queen Maker.
Will my selfish rant be heard above and will someone smile and say, “Careful what you ask for sister.”
Oh, dear Saint Emily Litella*, hear my words, “Never mind.”
*the lovely Gilda Radner's character on SNL