Monday, December 15, 2008

An open letter

Dear mothers of the world,

I'm so sorry. Because teething was not a big deal for Owen, I always thought that when other mothers carried on about the difficulties of teething that they were being...overally dramatic. Making mountains out of molehills. Looking for something to complain about.

Shows what I know. Having been up every hour and a half since midnight last night, comforting Joel as he tossed, turned, fussed, and acted pissy, I understand that teething can be a big deal.

While I'm at it, let me apologize for ever passing mental judgement about how mothers choose to dress, feed, discipline, or carry their children.

I guess what I'm learning is that in mothering, there isn't a valedictorian. All sorts of people can be successful mothers, and there's no reason to compete. I've learned, once again, that nothing can bite you on the ass with more vengeance than smug judgement.

Instead of looking at life with my yardstick, I'm attempting to look at life with my magnifying glass. For example, I was watching Owen draw this morning. He asked me to draw a cactus. I sketched out an Ocotillo, and all at once, was swept away by a wave of homesickness for Tucson, for the sparse beauty of the cactus, the orange-purple mountains, and the drapery of blue, blue sky. It made me happy to know that my East-Coast born son had been to Arizona, and knew about cactus.

My glass caught Joel, as he beamed and laughed at Owen's funny faces. He smiled, not so much at the faces, as the fact that they came from his brother.

Later on, my glass focused on Owen in the kitchen. He was pretending to fill up his packing box "car" up with gas. I watched him pretend to enter his PIN code, and realized that he will never know about life before "pay at the pump."

Later still, my glass turned to Owen again, in the living room, working on his puzzles. He narrated his actions while he worked, "Where's the little bit of pink? There it is! That piece goes right here. Where's the brown guy? Oh, I'm not going to put that in yet. There's the orange piece, that goes here..." It was fascinating to watch him create his own success. By resisting my desire to micro-manage his play, I was able to see him problem-solve his way.

Likewise, I can watch how other mothers create their own successes, not by micro-managing and measuring their choices with my yardstick, but by observing that people problem-solve in different ways.

And so, dear mothers, I ask you to forgive me for judging. Help me to see your journey, and appreciate your joys.



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