There are all kinds of contests at this time of the year: Tell us why your mom is the best mom; tell us why your mom deserves to win the grand prize; send a picture of your mom and tell us what makes her special …
And for as many kids out there who feel they have the world’s greatest mom, there are that many more mothers who think they deserve the prize.
Now, I’m not sure what mom of the year looks like. She’s most likely somewhere between firm and caring, not a push over, but not some screaming, militant woman. She most likely knows when to be understated and when to don her super woman cape.
I know about the expectations of mothers – the achievable, the challenges and the downright near impossible.
I can’t speak for any other mother. What I know is I am simply human. Before some of ya’ll start rolling your eyes and mouthing duh! Let me tell you that there are folks (some moms included) who have no qualms acting like mother and saint are synonyms.
Not me, man. I love my kids dearly, to the point that I still check on them overnight to ensure the rise and fall of their chests. I think constantly about how what happens now affect their lives either way; and I strive to do right by them and to shield them from those factors beyond my control.
I yell sometimes. And my eldest always pulls me up on it, with a “you don’t have to get so angry.” At times, he challenges me to do better by lobbing back my own words of wisdom at me, questioning why I didn’t just do like I often tell him and count to 10.
My boys sometimes find me in the bathroom, where I would have retreated, more for a moment to myself and less for a shower in the middle of the TV show we were watching and in which they are engrossed, enabling me to retreat.
But they find me, because no space is sacred, no closed door is a barrier and the notion of privacy or alone time for mom is still a foreign concept for all. And I’m not a happy camper in those moments.
I confess to often breathing a sigh of relief when, finally, after the to-ing and fro-ing that characterises bedtime, they are both in dreamland. At those times, the strains to My Time of Day from Guys and Dolls come to mind albeit with a twist that takes the precious moment from predawn as the singer favours to the moment my kids called it quits for the day.
One day, I heard a mother laying the ground rules for her daughter as she walked her from the classroom to the car. Calling the child by name, she said, “We will not have non-stop talking all the way home. Not today.”
I know exactly how that woman felt. I gave birth to the only chatterbox. He can talk for miles, pausing only for an answer to a question. And, sometimes, when I’ve got one ear on whatever tripe is sure to become news and therefore my business by the day’s end, and with a few hundred other thoughts swirling simultaneously, I’m tempted to follow that mom’s lead.
But it’s in those moments on incessant chatter, and not from the after-school Q-and-A’s or from test scores and corrected homework, that I know what, really, is going on in his world. And I confess to being, most days, in awe of his curiosity and his genuine love for all living things. But God’s honest truth is sometimes I itch to hit the pause button.
At the end of the day, however, when my little one, for all his grown-up antics, just wants to sit on mommy’s lap, and when my eldest seems inclined to do the same, I feel honoured.
I’m amazed as I watch them grow, and, not infrequently, the enormity of the task of parenting makes my breath catch in my throat. I’m dog tired, that much is true. And I keep threatening to sneak off, just me, for at least two days and two nights to do nothing for no one but myself.
But overriding all of that is that I love being their mom. I wouldn’t trade those two whippersnappers or their boyish antics for anything in the world.
So, pardon me if I don’t wait for anyone to wish me a happy Mother’s Day and to tell me good job and the like. To borrow from a poem I love, I’m planting my own garden and decorating my own soul. In a world where there are lots of baby mommies and baby daddies, I’m proud to be a mom.
Happy Mother’s Day, when it comes around, to all the moms and stepmoms and women who make it their duty to be positive forces in the lives of their children. Stop waiting for someone to give you permission; take a bow.