Monday, July 11, 2011

Mother Up

I've been thinking about this a ton lately. I've been a mom for almost eight years. I've had four children in that time. I have been busy, tired, challenged, blessed. I once heard of a woman at Ohio University who choreographed a ballet based on the movements of motherhood. I often have that mental image of myself: gracefully nursing a newborn on one foot while swooping in with an arm and a tissue to wipe another child's nose and then pirouetting just in time to stick out my pointed toe to stop a third child from getting hit by a closing door.

My life has been one of rapid chocolate-milk stirring, endless details, mountainous laundry. But now, oh now, I believe the work will begin in earnest.

And, by this I mean, the work of motherhood is shifting. While I've been physically growing kids, keeping them out of danger, offering my own body as sustenance, I hope I have also laid the groundwork for good morals, awesome work ethics and general humanitarianism. Because now, I have a seven-and-a-half-year-old girl, which, for those of you that haven't heard, is the new eleven. That is to say, this girl is picking up the sass, being marketed to as a "tween" and wishing for, but thank God, not yet asking for, her own cell phone and laptop. She's seven!

She's at a very formative age. It's a pivotal time to be her mother.

And it's a whole new ballgame. If I play this inning right, I'll have the kind of relationship I really want to have with her as she ages and runs into the icky stuff: the mean girls, the steep learning curves, the dark corners and who knows what else! And, let's face it, her worst enemy might be herself.

How do I grow a girl who isn't full of herself, yet believes in and values herself?

I have the memory, the hindsight and the wisdom to know that finding myself was not easy. My daughter will have to do it for herself. It's one of those things: you can't get around it, you just have to go through it.

I have faith that we'll do this together. We'll keep talking about what is and isn't right, fair, respectable. We'll mess up, both of us. I already know I've made some mistakes. But I am going to keep pouring on the love. I'm going to remind myself that while the baby needs to nurse, the two-year-old is playing in the toilet and the five-year-old is "baking" in the kitchen, that there is a seven-year-old still keening to spend time with me, still needing those "snugglefests" and back scratches. She not only tolerates me at this point, but she wants me around.

So, you see, this is the work of which I speak. While my motherhood hasn't exactly been easy, I have a feeling it will become harder, in some ways. I'm up to the challenge. I'm going to "mother up" and do this with my eyes, arms and heart wide open.

These are the best days of my life. Never again will I have the opportunity to shape my children the way I can and will in the next decade.

Ain't nobody gonna hoe this row for me. It's time to "mother up."

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