Because it's All Soul's Day, I am thinking of my mother.
I think she'd be really proud of who I've become - and I'm not talking about career here as I don't have a career anymore. I think she'd be surprised at that part, too. I'm rather surprised at myself actually. I think I'm a good wife despite growing up with parents who didn't have a happy marriage. I think I'm a good mother despite being raised by an unhappy mother.
One of my last conversations with Mama was about regrets. She said, "If I were to live my life all over again, I'd never have gotten married. I wouldn't have had all of you but maybe that would have been better. I'm sorry." She was very sad when she said that and that's why I didn't feel hurt at all. In fact, all I felt was sadness for her.
When I was a teenager and started going on dates, Mama told me she regretted marrying and having kids. So it wasn't like her confession above was a surprise. She loved us but she always said that if she were to live life all over again, knowing what she knew, she'd say no to marriage and kids. I feel sad for her but grateful that she never walked away. Now that I'm a mother myself and massively relieved I don't feel what she felt, I feel sadder for her still. As a modern society, we shouldn't impose marriage and motherhood on women. On anybody! Mama loved us sooo much but maybe she'd have been happier without us.
Mama was unhappy with many things, mostly with Papa, and that affected our everyday life. She loved him, there was no doubt about that, but she regretted that love because it didn't bring her happiness. It also gave her children who never... I don't know. It's not that we weren't enough. I think we were just too much.
As I gain more experience as a mother, I empathize more with Mama. I appreciate her sacrifices. I feel her shame whenever she had to borrow money or groceries. I feel her desperation, her sadness, her misery, her complete exhaustion and bewilderment. I feel her fear and her fury.
I'm a mother, too, and this duty is no fucking joke. I love my kids, okay, but every day is tough. I don't know if it gets better but right now, with three small children and I'm forever running around feeding them, washing butts, picking up toys, yelling for them to stop hurting each other, not having time to shower or poop even, not having time to read books (my great love once upon a time), not having any time for my great love who is my ever supportive but neglected husband... I mean, motherhood just sucks the life out of you!
I'm still learning how to be a good mother and sometimes I fail, sometimes I'm selfish, sometimes I want to just curl up and sleep for 10 years. But I get up and do this mothering anyway because, to be honest, despite all my whining, I absolutely love being a mommy. I love it! I feel like I hit the jackpot of life really. And maybe that's why I complain a lot, to balance it somehow because I still can't believe how lucky I am. I have this irrational fear that the Universe will spot my joy one day and say, "Wait a minute. She's too blessed. That can't be right," and then strike me down, so I try not to be too smug so that maybe if I downplay my unbelievable luck - my husband and my children! - I''ll get to enjoy it forever.
I wish Mama had this joy, too. I really wish she had enjoyed it as much as I do. But you know what, I admire her completely now. I feel this enormous gratitude that despite her regrets, she always showed up anyway. She did the work, she gave her all, she never gave up. That's true love. And I love her for that.
Anyway! Something to think about if you're still single, ladies. And gentlemen, I guess. If you don't want marriage and parenthood, that's okay. It's amazing for many people (like me!) but it's not the be-all and end-all everyone insists that it is.
And then, for those of you who do feel trapped and yet you carry on serving your family and treating them with love and respect, thank you. Thank you for not walking away. May you find peace and joy in motherhood. God bless us all.
For further reading: I Don't Like Being a Mother. What do you feel about motherhood?