When I first married my husband, we only talked about “maybe” having children, and it was a couple of years before we started talking about “when” we have children, and a couple more years before we decided that it was actually time to start a family. Shortly afterwards, our daughter was born, and exactly two and a half years after that, we had our son. So for me, motherhood was a gradual process from an abstract idea of maybe having kids, to a definite desire to be a mother, to actually becoming one.
And the process didn’t end there. From their infancy and toddlerhoods, when my job as a mother meant accepting responsibility for their every need, to their childhood when I had to begin stepping back and letting them learn things for themselves, to their teenage years when I could no longer ignore the fact that they were well on their way to adulthood, my role as a mother has constantly evolved. Those early years when my kids were so dependent on me were exhausting, but simple. The delicate balancing act of trying to decide how much support to give and how often to give it began later, and it just got more complicated as they grew up. These days, everyone makes fun of “helicopter parents,” but anyone who has been a parent knows how hard it is to decide when our kids need our help, and when they need us to step back and learn how to fail.
Now that my son and daughter are actual adults, our relationship is still changing, and my role as their mother continues to evolve. I’m still helping them, but they are also helping me. The little boy I once pushed in the stroller (for the ten minutes or so he’d consent to ride in there) is now the young man I call when I need a heavy box carried out of the basement or someone to explain to me why my computer suddenly went on strike. And these days I am almost as likely to ask my daughter for advice (particularly in fashion, an area where she is light years ahead of me) as I am to give advice to her. Watching my son and daughter grow into well-rounded, competent and caring persons has been, without a doubt, the most rewarding part of motherhood.
I understand now that my role as a mother will always be changing, just like my relationship with my own mother continues to change and grow. I loved watching my mom interact with my kids when they were little, and learned a few things about dealing with small children in the process. If I’m lucky, I’ll have grandkids of my own some day, and that will add a whole new dimension to motherhood. But whatever happens, wherever the process leads us, I’ll always be their mother. Always.