Is Motherhood Wasted on Moms?

by Leslie Morgan Steiner

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You know that saying "youth is wasted on the young?"

Well, my latest opinion is that motherhood is wasted on moms. At least moms like me.

Don’t get me wrong - I waited until I was 32 to get pregnant, I desperately wanted children, and I have loved every minute of motherhood.

Almost.

The litmus test proving that motherhood was squandered on me was my reaction to sick days when my kids were little.

When they fell ill, I reacted like a child myself.  I tore out my hair.  I hated them.  I rued the day I gave birth.  I damned the world’s babysitters for not being available at the 11th hour. I had to miss work!  I couldn’t get to the gym, the supermarket, my dentist appointment!

The hours of each sick day dragged on, a seemingly endless marathon of wiping noses, cleaning up vomit, responding to drink requests, and shuttling back and forth to the pediatrician’s.  I used to pray my kids would get a high fever so at least they’d fall asleep for a few hours.

I was a terrible mother.

Especially because my kids were rarely sick, and their illnesses were never serious ones.

Now that my kids are old enough to wipe their own noses - ages 14, 13 and 9 - I actually enjoy their sick days.  I can still work and squeeze in an hour of yoga, since my children are old enough to stay home alone for a bit.  I love the one-on-one time sick days give me with the sick child. 

My son had strep last week - and boy, the conversations we had!  We covered all the bases - how much he NEEDED a Facebook account, why my and my husband’s arguments troubled him so much, what it feels like to get depressed after being home for three days, why Prison Break is a brilliant TV series.  Sometimes now I WANT my kids to stay home, even when they are barely ill.  My nine year old recently stayed home with a questionable fever - the kind I would have scoffed at when she was seven --  and we went to the movies together.  Bliss!

When my kids get sick now, I ooze patience.  Wisdom and perspicacity come out of me like water from a fire hose.  It’s just one day out of my life!  Soon they will be grown and gone!  Kids grow up so fast.

I sound like a grandmother.

This is motherhood.  You don’t get to choose what parts of parenthood you’re good at - no wise Harry Potter sorter assigns us to the right kids at the right time in our lives.  No one doles out patience or perspective when we most need it.

I stink at parts of motherhood, revel in other phases, condemn myself for my failings, look down on other mothers’ for theirs… all the while discovering new and sometimes awful, sometimes quite nice, truths about myself, my kids, and the adventure of being a mom.

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