Do you remember the first time you realized your Mom was an actual person? That her sole purpose on this Earth wasn’t to please you? I was in my late 20’s before I began to understand this. It wouldn’t be until I had my first child that I could really comprehend that my Mom was so much more than “Mom,” but she had her own feelings and aspirations independent of us kids. Now, as I’m taking the role of “Mom,” I am discovering the little things she said to make time for her as a person and not just as “Mom.”
Becoming My Mother
I often find myself doing and saying things my Mom did when I was a kid. Back then, I didn’t understand them. As my children are entering school age, I understand all too well now. I thought she was so quick to yell or scold us. I now know that she was a champion of holding it together. We pushed and pushed and pushed all the buttons. It wasn’t until we pushed them all, a la kid in an elevator-style, that she would resort to yelling.
Just Wait Until Your Dad Gets Home
My Father worked third and second-shift jobs. My Mother was our primary caretaker. She also worked a full-time first shift job. After an hour of my brother and I fighting, she would often say, “Just wait until your Dad gets home!” to scare us into behaving. It wasn’t that my Dad was the only disciplinarian. My Mom did her share of handing down the discipline. My Dad had this very loud, very deep voice that just made his discipline feel scarier. I now understand that not only was it a scare tactic to simmer down, but it was also a survival tactic for her. She had worked all day to come home to two kids who simply could not get along. She was tired. She could only say “Stop,” “Don’t do that,” “Say sorry,” and “Why?” so much. The ability to put that responsibility on someone else was what she needed to do to not lose her mind. I am now the primary caretaker for my own children. I use my own version of the “Wait until your Dad gets home” tactic. My husband’s voice is also loud and deep, aka scarier. It works. The kids behave a little bit better and I get a break from the constant fighting that comes with having more than one kid.
Kids talk. A lot. About all kinds of things that don’t make any sense. They tell you the same thing over and over and over. I vividly remember asking my Mom to “guess what” to infinity. She would often reply with “Cool” or “Uh-huh.” I didn’t know much about communication or vocabulary back then, so I would walk away satisfied. I now know that she wasn’t listening to me at all. She was mustering up the little bit of energy she had to let us know she supported us and thought we were amazing by replying this way. I have learned that even just a smile and a nod go a long way when my kid is telling me about some video game he’s already told me about that hour.
I Need A Break
Something my Mom never said that I have started to say with my kids is, “I need a break.” I don’t get much time, but if I tell them I need 10 minutes, they (usually) carry on. They don’t understand why I need a break, but they respect it. Sometimes they come back to me a minute later, but most times, they give me the time I need to regroup. Tending to their every need every minute of every day is beyond exhausting. My Mom’s little tricks to get a chance to breathe have been so essential to me being the best parent I can be. I don’t think my children need to see me as anything more than “Mom” right now. Or maybe ever. As long as I take control of my needs, I can be just “Mom” to them forever.