It is Mother’s Day. A day on which I can indulge in the gratitude of being a mother. I love being a mother. I will never forget the magnificence of seeing my newborn daughter, all slimy and gooey and oozing with the comfort of the womb as the doctor placed her on my stomach and I took her to my breast. She cleaned up pretty nicely. Although, like all babies, (at least my perception of all babies) she had that look of Winston Churchill about her for quite some time.
In those days, we didn’t know our baby’s sex before he or she was born. I didn’t immediately take it in that Alexandra was a girl. I had to ask the doctor 3 or 4 times. What is it? The doctor was amazingly patient with me given the number of hours we’d struggled together to bring this 8 and a half pound bundle into the world safely. Alexandra, having resisted leaving the womb for more than 2 weeks past her due date, and having devoured her way through the placenta, was born with a full head of thick black hair. This freaky mop forced a change in the middle name we had selected in the event of a girl. Rowena means white-headed maiden. As it turns out, Alexandra hates the name Rowena so much, that god only knows what steps she would have taken by way of rebellion to punish us for this name. Who knows what twists and turns, abrupt halts and skids we’d have experienced along the hormone highway of adolescence? Instead, we were more than fortunate. Alexandra has been a delight to raise and although she is now almost 25, we are still raising each other to some degree or another.
There is so much we mothers remember, whether we want to or not, about raising our children. It is lovely to be able to share sweet memories on a day like this. Memories surrounding, for example, one of many train journeys I travelled alone with Alexandra. On one such journey, Alexandra, having noted the gentleman opposite us in the train vying for her attention, rewarded him for his persistence by removing her thumb from her mouth, and pulling up her dress to flash him with her tummy-button. “Look Man.” She commanded. “I got tummy-button.” I know I blushed. You could probably have fried an egg on my face. Over time, I got used to these magic moments with my daughter. I think/hope she’s given up flashing 22 years later.
And then there was the day I first flunked motherhood. The day when motherhood guilt first set in. It was a simple fall. She wasn’t even hurt. She slipped past my elbow and hit her head on the inner edge of my knee. She didn’t even cry. It was the thunk I heard as her little head hit my bone that brought me to tears. I sobbed. My chest heaved and I felt broken-hearted. I had let my daughter down for what would undoubtedly be the first of many times. Was it that realization that caused the pain? I wonder after all of these years. At the time I’m sure I cried because I thought I had hurt her and had failed her on that occasion. But I wonder did I really cry because I knew it would be the first of many times I would fail her on some level or another? Those were the days of Superwoman. Super-career-woman, super-wife, super-mother. Today, as I admire the young woman I am proud to call daughter, I’m just grateful that I was good-enough-mother.