How do you define motherhood and once a mother, does it ever end?
Before I became a mother, it was easy to explain the concept: A woman and a man made love and a child resulted in the process. They raised the child and that was it! Simple!
I grew up in communist Romania and my mother’s greatest fear was that I would get pregnant as a teenager. There would have been nothing worst in her mind that me, still a child, to make the disastrous mistake to allow my hormones, as she put it, to cloud my “judgement.” As a result, she “kept” my virginity intact by giving me pelvic exams after every date I had as a teenager. For years, I saw those horrific moments, when my privacy was invaded, as a sign of great love and concern. I still do, after all these years, even when I know the manifestation of her love was wrong and scarred me for life.
I really wanted to be a good girl, I didn’t want to disappoint and at eighteen, I secretly married my boyfriend.
The “secret marriage,” was a shock to everyone, but at least, the pelvic exams stopped. They were replaced by motherly advice on how not to get pregnant while being sexually active.
I continued to be a good girl and for the following 12 years, never got pregnant. I knew how to “protect myself,” and please my mother, who continued to tell me having kids would be a mistake. She was giving herself and her “wasted” life as an example. I was her only child… what was I doing on this Earth if I have not been welcomed, not even by my mother? A question I am still asking myself…
I never asked those questions at the time. In our “collectivist culture,” as I discovered much later, it was defined, families were close, parents respected and not discarded when one turned eighteen. Truth be told, the parents didn’t discard their children at eighteen either. The age had little to do with the idea that parenting ever stops.
Throughout my married life I continued to call her daily and visit her weekly. When she fell ill, I felt guilty if I didn’t visit her daily. When she died, I felt I lost my best friend. I still do.
However, somehow, her death freed me of the fear of becoming a mother myself. What if being a mother was that unique experience which fulfills a woman? To experience first hand the miracle of life. ..
A few years later, in a different country, a different culture, which at the time I did not know it was called “individualistic,” I re-married and had two beautiful daughters.
The instincts of being a mother completely took over my life. I breathed, worked, ate, slept and dreamed for my daughters’ benefits.
I wanted them to have it all. Everything which I didn’t, growing up in Romania: piano lessons, art lessons, gymnastics, dance, best private schools. I changed professions, so that my children will not take the yellow school bus and I drove them to school daily. Oh, and the pets, which were denied to me in my childhood! MY children were going to have a zoo! And a zoo it was: dogs, cats, reptiles, birds, fish. Even a frog…
I thought I was doing it all right… I knew the saying children learn what they see. I even read in a book that a child associated the smell of alcohol with his mother’s good night kiss, and I stopped drinking, for fear my children would “like alcohol,” because it was associated with my breathe. I wanted their self-esteem to be great and purchased special tapes to boost their egos.
Years went by, they turned 18 and left. They left as far away as I could have imagined… They no longer needed me!
I love my grown up daughters and miss them every day… It is heartbreaking for me to accept that for over twenty years they were the center of my life and now, that my “motherly duty” is over, they disappeared from my life forever! I am shattered inside and can’t manage to glue back together the broken pieces of my heart.
Once, when I was a child, I played with a type of insects called God’s caws. I put them in a jar and inside I put grass and food for them and observed them. After a while, I noticed tiny white eggs, which after a few days turned into larvas. What shocked me, was that the second the “babies” came to life, the parents died! At the time, that made me sad, but now, I think differently…
Perhaps it would be easier on a human mother’s soul to just die once her children no longer need her…
I envy those insects, for not having to make a choice. God made it for them!