Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My "State of the Mother" Address

D2 just called me in a state that teeter-tottered between ecstasy and sorrow. It is a state of being that only mothers understand. As a matter of fact, I call it the State of the Mother—something more constant than the State of the Union. It is that paradoxical condition that mothers find themselves in all too often.

The first tastes of it come when a child begins to walk. You want them to walk. You help them to walk. There’s no way you’d want them to crawl forever, but at the same time you want them to stay your little baby. You want them to stay cuddly and dependent. That confusing state of paradox is the State of the Mother.

And things only get worse from there. When you send them off to school the polarized feelings are even more confusing. You want them to go to school. You want them to read and do math. You want them to learn, but you don’t want them to leave you . . . and yet you do! You need some time to yourself. You want to have time to develop you own talents and do some of the things you enjoy doing. That’s why D2 called. Today she put her baby in kindergarten and she was wallowing in the State of the Mother. She cried last night and again as her son so willingly walked away from her and into his classroom. And yet she is ecstatic at the thoughts of being able to quilt and read and do so many things she’s put off doing for the last decade. That’s the State of the Mother.

But even that gets worse. Some day she’ll send her child off on a mission. Pow! No one tells you how hard that is. You raise them to go. You spend years making sure they will. You wouldn’t want them to do anything else. You are happy they have chosen to serve the Lord, but when they do what you want them to do it rips your heart out. You find yourself saying, “How can anything this right feel this bad!” That’s the State of the Mother. And then they come home, but surprisingly not to you. They come home and find someone else to live with—forever. That’s the State of the Mother, a state so full of joy you think your heart will break and at the exact same time so full of sorrow you think you’ll never recover.

I’ve been a mother for 42 years and I still don’t see how one state of being can include such a spectrum of opposing feelings. The State of the Mother includes it all, and for some reason (the biggest paradox of all) we love it.


Team McNeal said...

I loved seeing that picture of your family! I am anticipating those feelings as a mother all too soon, November will bring us a baby boy!

Anonymous said...

Oh, you are so right!! The last 6 months of my son's mission were so hard. Every time I would see a little blond boy around 3 or so, I would choke up and have to pick up something, pretending I was ready a label. There's not many excuses for bawling your eyes out in a grocery store. My daughters threatened me with timeout if I cried at their weddings. Tears of joy/sad/State of the Mother are the most unpredictable, but very real. I think I'm starting to go through it with grandchildren, too, as they all live very close by. As life unfolds for our families, it can be a real roller coaster, but I don't want to get off, either. I's the best ride I"ve ever taken. :-)

Talena said...

Nice blog post today-thanks!

SuSu said...

The "State of the Mother" I love it! It is all so true some days you feel like a yo-yo of emotion or some days you feel like a nut and some days you don't!

Anonymous said...

My State of the Mother is also not wanting them to run off with their own activities and friends, but then when I finally start to overcome my state of confusion about what to do with myself while they are gone and start doing SOMETHING, they return home and don't want me doing anything but paying attention to them. State of the Mother = forced flexibility between the states.