Mothering

By: Kristi Rizzo

My oldest child will celebrate his 17th birthday this month.  As he finishes his junior year of high school and we prepare for all things associated with senior year and beyond, I am left wondering if I did enough. 

“Let him do it.” 

Our first hours of parenthood in a Baltimore hospital were filled with little that our birthing classes or endless readings prepared us for.  When it was time to leave the hospital, we wondered if they were really going to let us leave with this baby??  The baby was ready to be dressed in the gender-neutral outfit that had been packed for weeks.  As I dressed in my street clothes, my husband began to dress the baby in the yellow clothing.  I watched as my husband laid the baby on the bed and struggled to get little arms in the tiny arm holes.  My instinct was to move forward, push my husband aside, and take over.  As I began on that path, the nurse grabbed my arm and said, “Let him do it.”  I was struck by this.  I was struck by this. Admittedly, this piece of advice has been a challenging one to follow at times.

“There is no such thing as the perfect mother.  Stop trying to be her.” 

Perfectionism has always been one of my faults.  Through my life as a mom, it is one that I have had to let go of more and more.  In the beginning, I strived to do everything right.  I read all the books and articles and followed all the professional advice.  In an instance of perfectionism that I can’t recall now, my mother said, “There is no such thing as a perfect mother.  Stop trying to be her.”  This gave me pause.  What did she mean?  I COULD do this perfectly, couldn’t I?   The answer became clearer when 17 months after our son was born, his sister arrived.  Days were spent just trying to keep people fed and diapers clean.  Perfection HAD to take a backseat.  It is a reminder that served me well. 

“The days are long but the years are oh, so short.” 

Everyone likes to tell new parents that the time passes more quickly than you can imagine.  But, when you are in the trenches of diapers, laundry, dinners, practices, homework, and other daily tasks, it sometimes seems as though it will never end. Then, you get to the point of scheduling senior portrait appointments and college visits and you realize just what all those wise folks were trying to tell you.  The years pass by in the blink of an eye.  It seems like yesterday that I was staring at a sonogram picture wondering if our baby would be a boy or a girl.  Now, that person is a young man who is ready to find his own way, and while I can’t imagine how we got here, I am filled with excitement and pride at what his future holds.

As I worry if I did enough and if my kid is ready, I will remember the advice I was given.  I’ll also try to enjoy this ride and take heart that the apple of my eye is going to be just fine. 

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