They guided me through the aches and pains, through the heartburn, the strange goings-on in the pit of my stomach, amazed that I had no cravings while regaling me with stories of their own. Between the two of them, they had raised six children (well, first of all they had delivered six children without pain killers), stay at home mothers while their husbands worked and took them around from town to town, moving every two or so years. They created homes for us out of strangers' houses in big cities, small towns and villages, they were our anchors in alien ports. They did all the things mothers are supposed to do and then much more. What's not to love about being in their company?
Then C was born. And so a mother and a father. When we first got married, my husband and I got busy finishing up school, starting out on our careers, and finding our feet in a brand new country. Having babies and growing our family was way down on the list of priorities. When we did get around to it, it was a good eight years after we got married. By then we were ready to be parents (as much as anyone could be without having had a child). Nine years after C was born, I no longer remember what I thought being a parent would mean, but it is so many things I did not even have the bandwidth to imagine at the time. The way in which the children relate to their father has been an unexpected source of delight and fascination for me. My becoming a mother had made a father out of my husband. His children reduce him to a puddle of tears, produce antics that have him helplessly laughing until he doubles over in pain, have him looking at the world and wishing it were a gentler, kinder place for children his own and unknown, have shown him his unbounded capacity for love. What's not to love about that?
And the two little human beings that bind us together have also strengthened the bonds between two families. My parents and my in-laws revel in recounting to each other the antics of their grand-children. Never mind that it's a story that's been told and retold a hundred times. The laughter is as genuine as it was the first time anyone heard the stories. And each set of grand-parents sees reflections of their own child in their grand-children and there is great joy in calling out the similarities. As a result, my parents know much more about my husband as a little boy and my in-laws know a little bit more about me as I was when I was a little girl. The same is true of my uncles and aunts - they take delight in catching glimpses of me in D and shades of my brother in C. During the eight years before C was born, I had no inkling that becoming a mother would set off all these ripples that would echo through so many lives. All our lives are richer because my husband and I became parents. What's not to love about that?
And then there is the awesomeness of being handed ring-side seats to witness the journey of two beings - from helpless babies to already now proper little people, with their own ideas; with the tools to express them and act on them; their own quirks and sense of humor; with the curiosity to ask the questions, oh the questions, that drag the imponderables down to the realm of the here and now; with the capacity to feel empathy and sadness for another person; with the wisdom to make the decisions that seem tiny but have enormous impact on their lives; with the hearts to love and to make friendships and to give the softest, sweetest hugs at just the right times; with the ability to understand certain things without receiving an explanation that is at times humbling as it is awe inspiring. What's not to love about that?
Finally, this is the most unexpected of all. Being a mother has made me a lot less judgemental of other people's actions and choices. Having a child puts in front of you a human being that you brought into this world, but is still so different from you. I only have to look at C and D and realize that people cannot react in the same way to the world around them. They are shaped by a different set of genes, by different upbringings, by different environments, by different experiences. Being a mother has made me more understanding. It has made it a little easier to know that most mothers have their children's best interests at heart and are really doing everything they can within their particular set of circumstances to be the best mother they can be.
What's not to love about being a mom?
Sands and Cantaloupe'sAmma both tagged me to write five things I love about being a mother. Apologies, but I'm going to break the rules. I won't tag any of you. If you're interested, however, please do take up the tag.
Update: Sorry about the errors. Fixed the ones I noticed.