There are lots of things to like about motherhood. One of them is nursing a baby, another one is having a cup of tea with your teenager. Then between those two extremes are watching your child learning to walk, losing the first tooth, figuring out how to write her name, pushing her on the swing, going to endless soccer practices, making cookies, teaching her how to pick up after herself, reading Going on a bear-hunt at least 100 times, eating play-doh food and planning birthday parties.
Being a mother is this and a lot more. Being a mother is the occupation that we are the least prepared for, and the most rewarded for. I love being a mom more than I have loved anything else I have done in my life.
Today I am celebrating my 15th anniversary of being a mom. Elise was born in Chiang Mai on a cool and breezy day 15 years ago. Then Steve and I had read all the books we found on parenting, and, like all other parents to be, we knew exactly how to raise a child. The first challenge we encountered was: How do we actually change a diaper? It only took a couple of nights with no sleep to realize that the books had left some stuff out. Babies have not read the parenting books, so they don’t know how the pros expect them to behave.
With Elise though, we got what we did not deserve. A beautiful child who slept on schedule at three weeks, who grew up to say things like: “Never mind, I don’t need any gifts for Christmas. I have everything I need,” when she was five. And who said: “I really hate it when I say mean things to my sister, it makes me feel bad inside.” She was a child who gives her money and stuff away to the refugees, and who is not able to tell a lie no matter how hard she tries. We got a child who is creative beyond her years, and who will put justice before comfort almost always (the only times that rule seem to not apply is when her sisters are involved, and some clothes they have borrowed.)
At 15 she is showing me how to be a good neighbor, how not to judge other people and how to not be controlled by fear. She is also teaching me what is cool and what is not. That is important. I have, for example, learned that my knitted hat needs to have a 30 degree curve on the back, not stay straight up in the air.
I am so glad that we got Elise, and then Naomi and Kristin. How perfect that we got exactly the kids that fit with our family’s DNA. It would have been a real bummer if we had gotten the kind of kids we watch on Disney channel.
Happy birthday to Elise. And happy birthday to me who have been a mom for so long that I can actually start teaching people about how to raise kids.