On Saturday evening a loved friend met my babe for the first time. Perhaps because of this, the conversation turned to children, and whether she hopes to have one some day. The answer was yes: one. I told her the thing you say, that if she chooses to have a baby, and is able to have one, that she “will be a great parent.” I said this thing sincerely–completely, completely sincerely. She said the thing that I have never had anyone say. “Do you think you are a great parent?” For what felt like a long time, I could only pause. I could only be silent.
What was easy to say about her (and countless others) became hard to say about myself, and the actual acts of mothering I perform every day. When I could speak, I think I muttered, “I’m not sure,” or “I don’t know,” or “Maybe sometimes.” And then I told her about how I measure my days. If I have sung to my babe, and spoken to her, and read to her a tiny bit, and fed her, and clothed her, and kept her relatively clean, then we have had a good day. For the most part, they feel possible, and forgiving.
The work of mothering a young infant is work that doesn’t come naturally to me. It is also work that is composed of a million small things, and all of those things together make me tired (and if I am being especially truthful: lonely).
I am thankful for the reminder from fellow Exponent blogger, Emily U. that mother is a verb as well as a noun, because there are a lot of people who have helped mother my daughter already, as there are a lot of people who have helped mother me. For the first, it is every person who has smiled at her or made her laugh, the friends that brought my small family dinner after she was born, or came over just to let me nap or shower. It is the women who tried to teach me how to burp her (I never got very good), and those who told me how to fly with a small child and how to be brave enough to do so. It is. It is. It is.
I have long known that it takes a village to raise a child, but I am learning that it also takes a village to raise a new mother (noun), and I am thankful for the village that is raising me. I am also thankful for Jill Churchill’s quote: “There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.”
Aside from my initial pause of inadequacy, I had a delightful Mother’s Day weekend, and delightful Mother’s Day, almost entirely because of the “A Mother Here Art and Poetry Contest” that as Caroline mentioned, just announced its winners. I spent the day with the selected words and images, and I felt filled, remembering the one we share as Mother.
My prayer is that everyone got from the day what they needed, whether that be skipped church, radio silence, a whole lot of chocolate, or a nap.