A Tosa resident for almost 20 years, Karen is a mom and freelance writer, addicted to playing tennis. When not on the tennis court, she spends the fall and winter in the stands at Green Bay Packer and Marquette basketball games.
Karen is the author of “Grab a Bite,” a dining out column and the former community columnist for the Wauwatosa NOW newspaper.
It seems to me that it’s no coincidence that bleeding hearts are in full bloom during Mother’s Day. No other flower seems to describe motherhood quite so aptly.
You see, there are lots of truths about being a mom – it’s hard, it’s exhausting, it’s frustrating, it’s incredible and it’s the greatest love you’ll ever experience. But what people don’t tell you about being a mom is having your heart broken. And no, I’m not talking about being disappointed, hurt or embarrassed by your children. Yes, those are difficult to endure. But, for me, what is most surprising to find is that when your children hurt, you hurt with them. When their hearts are broken, yours is….ten-fold. When they are rejected or disappointed, you feel it too. When they are sad, you are sadder.
When I started in this motherhood business, I thought I was fully prepared. After all, I had helped raise my sister who is 13 years my junior. Oh, silly me. My husband, thankfully, focused his preparation on the financial aspects. Good thing somebody was watching the bottom line. Nevertheless, we jumped in and never looked back.
Our journey to parenthood began instantly with heartbreak. (Not something I’d recommend, but you can’t predict the cards you’re dealt.) Our son suffered severe developmental disabilities. Undaunted, we forged ahead. We cried, we hugged, we held each other up. Then we were blessed with another son. Then came the worry…the CONSTANT worry. Having been “snake-bitten,” we couldn’t help but be concernced with what catastrophe lie ahead. Eventually, paranoia dissolved into joy, exhaustion and late-night readings of medical guides to help explain what was probably colic.
Our blessings continued with the addition of a daughter. Since we were experts, this would be a piece of cake, right? Surprise, surprise – just when you figure it all out, God hands you another little being who is TOTALLY different in every possible way. We felt like we had learned NOTHING.
Still, somehow, we survived toddlerhood, grade school and high school. There were bumps and bruises (physical and psychological) along the way but we worked through it all. And now, this year, in an ultimate demonstration of God’s sense of humor, our nest will empty just as I hit a milestone birthday (five-oh!) That’s right, our youngest heads off to college in the fall just as I become eligible to become a card-carrying AARP member.
This brings me to my two most recent revelations about motherhood: 1) It sucks to no longer be needed, and 2) No matter how old your kids are, you NEVER stop worrying about them. Let’s dissect these one at a time.
First, we moms spend years perfecting the art of being needed. Sometimes, it’s a bit overwhelming. But most of the time, it’s awesome. Who doesn’t feel loved when a child runs into your arms or calls you on the phone seeking comfort? To no longer be that person, makes me feel a little…obsolete.
Secondly, the worrying thing is absolutely a nuisance. When I was a young mother, people used to say: “Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems.” I silently thought in response: “Oh yeah, try sleep deprivation. That’s big to me!” And it was, but it pales in comparison to concerns over jobs and friendships and broken hearts and college applications. The list goes on and on. And even today, when my kids are, technically, adults, (and one lives 3,000 miles away) I still start my morning with prayers for their safety and well-being.
You see, that’s the maternal heart…the maternal bleeding heart. It just never stops caring. It never stops loving. And although that’s challenging for us mothers, I still think that’s a very good thing.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms and your mothers. God bless.