Finding Food Under the Couch and Other Discoveries of Motherhood
by Jessica Lee Parsons
At some point my mom became less of a parent and more of a best friend. It happened somewhere between that first ultrasound of a human jelly bean and breaking up a three kid brawl in the living room. I realized I owed my mother an apology. For exactly what, I couldn't immediately recall, but I knew that years ago it was me that was wearing her down to paper-thin patience and making her worry, fume, and boil. I even felt the need to ask her forgiveness for the good times, because I had no idea that the joy of falling in love with your own children could be so intense it actually hurt. I made her heart ache in good ways and bad and I never understood it.
I still don't. I've yet to experience the fear of handing keys to an individual I once had to toilet-train and watching him drive away. I haven't even experienced a day when all of my children board the school bus and I'm left to dance around in my quiet, clean house like a whirling dervish, chanting "Woohoo!" Or maybe I'll just burst into tears because I miss them all more than I thought I would.
I've nibbled just the edges of the parenthood pie, I've yet to taste a full slice of Motherhood, and already I've been changed profoundly. Being "Mom" has exposed faults I never knew I had.
For example, I thought I was so patient until I caught my kids making "snow" with the bean bag filling. I thought I was logical until I banishd the kids to the backyard and could only come up with "because" for a reason. I thought I was a cute pregnant lady until I hit the third trimester and my ankle bones disappeared under swollen, purple sausage legs and I got the worst bout of acne I'd had since ninth grade. I thought I was humble until I caught myself boasting inwardly about my amazing parenting skills, right before my child threw a prolific tantrum in the grocery store. And I thought I would be a perfect parent until I found out I couldn't.
One by one I discovered my strengths weren't all that strong. But that's the funny thing about parenting; I didn't know how strong I was until I gave birth. I didn't know how funny I was until I made my daughter laugh so hard she snorted. I didn't know how smart I was until I figured out a way to get a three year old boy to eat veggie soup. I didn't know how comforting I was until I kissed it better and I didn't know how much my mom meant to me until I became "Mom" myself.
So, when I wonder what that smell is, coming from under the couch, and I find a sippy-cup of rotten milk or that sandwich The Boy said he threw in the garbage, I am so glad my mom discovered how forgiving she was, so that even after all I did, we can still be the best of friends.