This photo was taken just after we got off the Ferris wheel and we had to make our way down a long corridor of game booths and carnival rides to get to the other side of the fair grounds.
The sun had gone down, the lights had come on and Danny had a wad of blue cotton candy the size of a baseball glove in his hand. My husband had already taken the older kids and disappeared into the crowd ahead of us. I was pushing my baby in a stroller and at the same time trying to guide Danny in a straight line through the rush of lights and smells and sounds. It was like being inside a video game. He walked like a hypnotized snail and stopped every few steps to watch people screaming on a ride or turned to follow the beckoning voice of a game carnie. It was too noisy for me to say anything to him and my hands were full since I was pushing the stroller. So every time he got off course I would stop the stroller and point him in the right direction again, just like a little wind-up toy. A little nudge here and and turn of the shoulders there . . . step by step we made it through the gauntlet of fried food and cigarette butts and game carnies yelling, "Hey mamma, let your little boy play this game! Everyone wins a prize!" The task was so hilariously metaphoric that I couldn't help but laugh outloud. With some gentle course correcting I could help him get to his final destination. How lost my sweet son would be with out me! How powerful I am! My influence is so real it is frightening sometimes.
There are a lot of cool jobs out there, but there is nothing quite as amazing and influential as being a mother. And mothers need mothers. I'm not talking about our own mothers, I'm talking about each other. For, you see,
Mothers are Like Unsocialized Dogs
Have you ever seen how a dog reacts when he hasn't been socialized with other dogs? He goes nuts. Especially if he is on a leash. Tugging, pulling, whining, barking, trembling. He is so excited to see another member of his species that he is practically climbing out of his skin to get close.
Sometimes I wonder what dogs are really saying when they bark at each other while being walked by their owners. I would imagine it is something like this: "Hi! How are you! You are a dog! Like me! You have a leash! Are you being held against your will? Can we be friends?! Will we ever see each other again!? My owner is leaving now! Goodbye! Goodbye! Goodbye!!"
Sometimes I feel that way about other mothers when I see them at the store or at the park. I may look calm on the outside, but when I say "hello" what I am really trying to say is, "Hi! How are you? You are a mother! Like me! You have kids! Can we be friends? Are you here against your will? Will we ever see each other again? My son just wet his pants. Goodbye! Goodbye! Goodbye!"
It is hard to have friends when you are a mother. At least, it is for me. I would love to spend more time with women my age, but honestly, if I have a free evening sans ninos I would much rather spend it with my husband than anybody else. That said, I still wish I could spend at least some time with friends.
So we don't get to spend a lot of time together without kids, oh well. But I do watch you when you're with your kids and I learn far more from you than you will ever know.
I asked a bunch of you to send me some photos that capture the way you mother. I know all of you very well. Some I've known for a couple years, some for many, many years. All of you I love and admire. And even though we don't get to spend near enough time together, this is what I've noticed about you and what I like best about you.
I like that we are up at the same time in the morning.
I like the ideas you come up with.
I love that your child is the perfect blend of you and your husband.
I love listening to your opinions on the world and how it would all run a lot smoother if we were in charge. (But then . . . we are, aren't we?)
I love to learn about things that worked for you and I totally get it when things don't.
I love your sense of humor.
Some things you do I copy. Other things you do I don't copy because I don't think it will work with my kids but I still admire that it works with yours.
I love to see how you adapt and cope.
|(3 months premature)|
I love remembering us in college when we used to talk about what it would be like to be pregnant.
I love the original solutions you come up with. Without having to look on Pinterest.
I love how you have a zillion photos of your kids and hardly any of you.
I love to watch how you are sharing your own talents and passions with your kids.
I love to see your completely ruined homes and your ugly mom-shoes because it makes me feel better about my own.
I love that you seize opportunities to make your child's dream come true.
I love that when your maternity leave is over and you have to go back to work it makes you cry.
You've shown me that when life gets harder, you get stronger.
I love to see beautiful photos of you and your children, because I know that for every gorgeous photo taken of you there are at least ten hours you've spent sitting on the bathroom floor potty training or rubbing the back of a child vomiting your homemade dinner into the toilet.
I love to hear about the times when everything clicked. Except maybe the camera.
I love that you used to sass the teacher when you were little and now you get frustrated because now your kids sass the teacher.
You might think you are getting older and wrinklier but your kids (and I) think you are beautiful.
So perhaps we can't be with each other as much as we wish we could, and we have to settle for being dogs on a leash, barking out recipes to each other from across the park. Or across the aisle at church or over the internet or across the country.
But I've noticed something wonderful about my kids as they've grown. The more they grow the cooler they get. They are actually getting to be pretty fun to hang out with. One of my friends, whose children are almost all out of the house, recently posted this on facebook:
"I love being a mom. I thought I had made a sacrifice to stay home and raise my kids, but, now that all is said and done, I got the best deal. Relationships are what truly make us happy."