"If you can't be good, be careful." I was sitting at a table in the corner at The Java Joint working on a writing project. Deb Searles walked in. There were several young men sitting on the leather counches in the back, all of whom looked to be in their early teens. They sweemed to know Mrs. Searles and as they all got up to leave, she fed them the above line. I laughed out loud.
It made me think of the upcoming Mother’s Day. Once a mom, always a mom—and it doesn’t matter if the kids are yours or someone else’s. The mother instinct is forever ingrained.
When I first found out I was going to be a mother the spring of 1986, I’ll be honest, I was not thrilled. I was plagued with all the insecurities of someone who never had the mother instinct. Or so I thought. I never ran up to newborns and asked the mothers if I could hold them. I never fawned over the amazing baby photos taken by Annie Leibovitz either. I just didn’t see the cuteness of babies sleeping while resting in various versions of fruits and vegetables or in flower pots. It was a bit weird for me.
However, when I officially became a member of the mom club, the mother instinct kicked in but so did a whole new slew of worries. Will I be able to keep him safe? Will I be able to be a good mother like my mother? Will I read to him enough? Will I make sure he brushes his teeth every night? Will I be able to tell the difference if he’s really sick or just making an excuse not to go to school? How will I know if a fever is just teething or something more serious? Will I nag them too much? Will I ignore the signs if my sullen teenager is in more trouble than it seems? Will I like his friends? If I don’t like his friends, will I have the courage to tell him why?
Old news flash: I had two boys who are now in their mid-twenties and I still worry about them. I tell parents who have kids in grade school, middle school and high school that in some respects it gets easier but in other respects, it doesn’t.
There are many emotional events that a mother endures as the kids grow up. Losing the first tooth, the first day of school, a first date, helping your offspring mend a broken heart … they are all important, but one of the most traumatic events a mother goes through is when her teenager gets his or her driver’s license.
There is a terrific Subaru commercial out where a father is leaning inside the car from the passenger side telling his daughter the rules of the road. At first she is about six or seven then the commercial cuts back to the father and by the time it cuts back to the teen, she is sixteen and raring to go. She backs out of the driveway and then the scene cuts to her father waving her goodbye.
That scene gets me in the heart all the time.
All we can do as parents is hope that our kids paid attention during driver’s education, driver’s training and pay extra special attention when driving among the millions. Even now when my grown boys are going on a road trip, I ask them to at least text me when they arrive at their destination.
I worry about their careers. I worry about their health. I worry about their peace of mind.
I found this poem by Chris Marcum who said it best:
Will they make it to trimester three?
We worry about how much they eat
and even when we they poop and pee.
We worry when they’re two and three,
all the scraps, bumps and boo-boo’d knees.
We worry about them cutting hair
and how much of their sister’s they’re willing to spare.
We worry about all the teeth that must come free
and if they will need Orthodontistry.
We worry if they will pass the class,
from their first day of school until their last.
We worry about them going off to college
and if we gave them enough knowledge.
We worry for them when their heart does break
and the scar that they might never shake.
We worry for them on their wedding day,
that the love they share may never fade.
We worry for them when their baby comes
now their worrying has just begun.
A Mother’s worry never ends.
It just evolves and grows and starts again.
From one exhausted parent to many others, “Happy Mother’s Day!”
Stacey Powells is a local writer and radio host. She hosts the Exhausted Parent Network Radio Show every Thursday night at 6 p.m. on KMMT. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . For more of her work, visit www.exhaustedparent.com . Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of the Mammoth Times.