Mother’s Day 2012
Whoever came up with the miraculous human delivery system known as pregnancy followed by birth had a pretty good handle on a lot of things. Physiology, chemistry, biology, psychiatry.
Psychiatry, you might ask? Well, yeah. Whoever this miracle worker was, he-she knew better than to give this incredible gift, this life-giving ability, to men. Women are so perfectly tailored for the task; the fairer sex, the built-in nurturing instinct, the willingness to suspend selfishness in the interest of another (soon to be) human being. Men maybe could do most of that if there was beer and ribs and ESPN.
Instead, women were correctly awarded this beautiful experience. Okay, the nine months period may have its pitfalls. And the prize at the end of those nine months is not exactly a cruise to Aruba, either. Pregnancy and birth can be legitimately perceived as an incredible imposition on women. And I truly believe that if the roles were reversed, most men would consider it a burden that must be endured.
But women, for the most part, long for this experience. They pine for it. They feel empty if they don’t have it. Many women will confess to a feeling of incompleteness if they have not given birth.
In other words, women get it. They totally buy into the whole karmic serenity and sense of power that comes with being a life giver. If you think women bitch and moan during those nine months, imagine what men would do.
My mom smoked and drank without hesitation through SIX pregnancies, and we all turned out fine (on paper, insert obvious joke here). But today’s culture sternly frowns on women indulging in almost anything during pregnancy. That seems patently unfair to me. Like carrying an increasingly large person in your stomach for that duration is not enough inconvenience, let’s ladle some more sacrifices on your plate.
But women, God bless ‘em, do their due diligence. No sacrifice is too large or small when it comes to their baby. I simply cannot, in all honesty, envision men living this adventure in such a way.
Do you think we would play the ‘martyr’ card if the breast pump were on the other breast? Does a shark shit in the sea? It would be one of the few times men would invoke the name of Joan of Ark.
The true nuts and bolts of motherhood begin, ironically, once the baby is, literally, untethered from its mom. There remains the sporadic connection of breast feeding, but virtually every other aspect shifts from the automatic and direct feeding in the womb, to the everyday act of consciously caring for another body. Women must go from the well attended delivery room to the sudden autonomy of home, but more importantly, their participation goes from a ‘hands off’, let nature take its course, to a ‘hands on’, it’s now up to me every day. Upon birth, this transition must occur almost immediately. It makes the previous nine months look like the 100 Years War.
I’ve heard kvetching and bitching from men about how women can go on for hours gabbing about their kids. While I may agree that some of this conversation consists of superficial observations and analysis, I can also see how the other side of that coin might play out.
Men may carry their golf bags for 18 holes (about 4 hours, probably as close as we come to the pregnancy experience), but once ensconced at the 19th hole, you will be inundated with bitching about that effort, not to mention our own superficial analysis of how we almost broke 90. As if somehow, that is more substantive than hearing how little Jimmy scored his first soccer goal.
Women have been cutting men slack for centuries. They certainly deserve the same courtesy when it comes to being the ‘chosen ones’, the life givers.
Motherhood, like most other roles for people, can be a mixed bag. There are good ones and bad ones.
Many more good ones than bad, by my observation.
My mom died in 1983. That means I have been alive longer without a mom, than with one. I wouldn’t recommend that for anyone. But it has given me a perspective that I might not have if she were alive today: Appreciation.
It helps also to have three sisters, two still with us, all of whom are mothers. And good ones. And their offspring have provided our family with a lot of satisfaction, including grandkids. A huge legacy that will keep our family tree bountiful for a long time.
Women who give birth have a built in legacy that men will never have. I know about the need for both sperm and egg. We are necessary, of course. But there’s only one oven, and that bun is coming out of mom’s Easy Bake, not dads. You can’t recreate that type of omnipotence for men. I believe the mother-child bond is different, and yes fundamentally more powerful, than the father-child bond.
Nothing warms my heart more than to hear a mom brag about her child. The kind of bragging not born out of insecurity, but instead from pride. There is often the tenor of self-satisfaction in her praise, as obviously their child’s accomplishments are due, at least in part, to her efforts. That kind of bragging is music to my ears. Better than the inverse, right?
I think as part of my mom’s legacy, I have provided her with mixed results. Have I made her proud? Maybe once in a while. Not often…enough.
But if she were alive today, I know this. I would bust my hump to make her happy. I crave a mom to spoil.
So, pour the wine, overflow the champagne glass; hell, take a shot, you’ve earned it.
We wouldn’t be here without you.