Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What’s it like to be a mother? (Belated Mother’s Day Thoughts)

Of course, it’s a lot of hard work—when you think you’ve ended the day, only to discover there are no clean bottles, only a pile needing cleaning. It’s a lot of messes that Ayelet mostly creates, like when she threw the potted plant she “gave” me (via daycare) for Mother’s Day on the floor—the one that came with her handprints on a poem about how I sometimes get frustrated with her, because she’s so small, but soon her hands will grow bigger, and I won’t remember the small hands at all!
It’s kind of funny, to see her discovering the world—like the Shabbat lunch when I looked over at the kids’ table and saw her downing the juices of a bowl previously holding pickles (she looked rather relieved when I handed her a glass of water). It’s kind of funny how she wrinkles up her little nose, the exact same way I did when I was a baby, or so I’m told.
It’s such a miracle, to hear her little voice developing a vocabulary—even though no matter how many words she learns, the one I love the most is, “IMA!” It’s such a miracle finding tiny baby diapers in the back of my closet and realizing how much she’s already grown.
It’s kind of scary that she has wants and opinions, especially when those opinions opt for “ELMO!” when I could already play the role of Elmo in that video or “OUTSIDE!” when a trip to the playground wasn’t on the agenda.
It’s kind of scary, because while planning a trip like I’m planning, I have to realize that no matter how “kid-friendly” I think I’m making it, I’m really just doing it for myself. How can I presume she’ll even like the “kid-friendly” parts at all? I remember the first time we put her in a swing when she was an itty-bitty baby and she just sat there staring at us, like, “This is supposed to be fun?” Or that first year when we put her in a Purim costume and she was screaming her head off. I want Israel to be fun, but honestly I can’t really know how it will compare to, say, an empty soda bottle, or Ima’s purse to walk around with, never mind “ELMO!” (let’s not set our sights too high here).
As far as I figure it, the best I can do is strike some kind of a balance between my desire to roll full steam ahead through my fast and furious itinerary and Ayelet’s desire to toddle the other direction, holding my purse, an empty soda bottle, and pushing her own stroller too while she’s at it—and somehow turn that into teachable moments where we learn about each other, Israel, and the big wide world around us, and have a good time, too, while we’re at it.
And that, in a nutshell, is what it’s like to be a mother.

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