Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ferris Wheels

When I started this blog (yes, it still exists . . . I just haven't had anything to say that I've considered share-worthy), I intended the "vent" portion to be there for me when I was frustrated or simply irritated or needed to grumble. Today "vent" means just saying what I want to say because I can.

So skip back to the parenthetical aside up there: I've decided I rarely have anything share-worthy to say. That's not self-deprecation; it's the nature of human communication. We say a lot more words than we need to in the course of a day, not because those words are vital for us to say or for someone to hear, but because we can.

I've journaled on and off throughout my life, beginning in 6th grade. When I met my husband, I stopped. I just felt that entry after entry of "I'm so happy, he's so great, life is so wonderful" would start to annoy even me.

But not too long after I had my oldest child, I started journaling again--this time for him. And then for my next son, and my daughter, and my last child. I've written about their milestones, their perhaps-only-amusing-to-the-parents stories, how much I love them, how much they drive me crazy even in the midst of that love.

But they're all old enough to keep their own journals now, and they all have kept them at some point and to whatever degree of regularity. So do I keep writing in the ones I started? Will my kids, as adults, care to read about how I felt about them getting their drivers permits, starring in a play, starting middle school, making new friends?

If I'm being honest with myself, the answer is no. For one thing, I'm one of those people who says many more words in a day than is necessary. They've all said to me more than once (or 20 times), "I know, Mom. You've told me that story before." So I picture them reading their journals years down the road, getting to the part where they are now in life, and saying to themselves, "Yep. I've heard this one before too. In fact, I remember it."

And that's kind of where I am today: struggling to know what to do for my kids when they can do for themselves, feeling as if the routine I've found myself in is "yep, I've heard this one before, Mom," trying to figure out how to accept that my usefulness to them has changed--as it should.

I was telling a friend the other night that I've never looked at myself as being a great mom, though I've had great mom moments. I've excelled at my role at times. Other times, I've failed miserably. But it's the role I chose, and as long as my kids can forgive me for screwing up on occasion, I can forgive myself as well and still be incredibly and ridiculously grateful they've let me have this role.

My friend asked if my issue now is that I don't have anything distinctly mine anymore--now that I've had to acknowledge my kids aren't merely extensions of me but have their own wills, their own plans, their own opinions--their own journals. And the answer is yes, absolutely. Any mother will admit she views her kids as "hers," as having sprung from her body alone, without the help of anyone else--not the father, not the grandparents, not anyone else whose dna those children might share. They. Are. Mine. All. Mine.

Until they're not. And the days, months, years following that realization are cloudy days--like Upstate New York in the winter, or our vision blurred by cataracts. I'm waiting for spring. The occasional days of sunshine are promising. But they're not spring.

I heard a poem on NPR this morning that choked me up. It's not meant to be about motherhood, but it is for me. It's by Dunya Mikhail:

"The Shape of the World"

If the world were flat
like a magic carpet,
our sorrow would have a beginning and an end.

If the world were square,
we would lie low in a corner
when the war plays "hide and seek."

If the world were round,
our dreams would take turns on the ferris wheel,
and we would be equal.
It's "our dreams would take turns on the ferris wheel" that got to me.

I know it's time for me to move on from the kind of mom I needed to be when my children were babies and toddlers and on to the kind of mom they need me to be now that they're older. And just like I know spring will eventually make its way here, I know I'll be glad for the ride.

My 16-year-old just texted me to ask me to put money on his lunch account at school. And after I hit "publish" on this post, I'm going to call my mom to see how her cataract surgery went--not because she needs me to call, but because I need to call her. After all, the world is round.