With every year that passes, I find I’m more set in my ways. I don’t like anything disrupting my “schedule”, such that it is.
You could pretty much set your watch by me. I eat at a certain time. Drink a cup of coffee at a certain time. Turn off the lights and go to bed by 10 p.m. And don’t go out after dark.
But years ago things were so different. At the advent of motherhood.
We had to be flexible. We didn’t have any choice.
Life was constantly changing. You’d think you might have a nice quiet day for a change. Make plans with a friend to have lunch and a much needed “adult” conversation. You looked forward to it for days.
And then one of your kids would come down with a fever and you had to cancel and stay home. Hold cool wash cloths to that child’s head. Take their temperature. Read them stories and serve them chicken noodle soup.
That was sick duty mode.
We rolled with the waves. Children fell down and scraped themselves up and we quieted them down, bandaged them up and gave them a Popsicle.
We held our breath and turned away (at least I did) when our children got shots at the doctor, and wished we could take that shot for them when they cried.
We shopped for groceries with tired children crying in the seat of the shopping cart.
At the check out maybe we’d see someone staring at us. Only to look down and realize we had smears of grape jelly on the front of our shirt. Or we’d left some of our buttons undone from the last nursing.
We ignored the prying eyes as we dug all those coupons we’d clipped from a handbag full of used Kleenex and sticky cough drops.
It was hard to feel pretty or important or interesting when we spent our days changing dirty diapers and cleaning up spilled milk. Wiping noses and changing sheets.
It was just what we did. It was expected of us and we complied. There was never any question or doubt.
Before we knew it, the kids were off to college. Maybe there was a divorce in the mix.
We piddled around on our time off, wondering what on earth to do with ourselves. Should we join a garden or book club? Find a new hobby? Volunteer?
We almost missed the old days, because the weariness of motherhood had seeped from our memory just as childbirth always does.
Then suddenly we’re the old women we whispered and giggled about in our youth. The weird old lady living alone with all those cats. The one you could set your clock by.
Where did the time go?
Maybe we never got to finish college. Or we took a class here and a class there and finally finished twenty years after starting, as I did.
But those years of being a mother was on-the-job training. It was a memorable education, even though you did not end up with a diploma in your hand.
It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t exotic. It was just what we did. The on-the-job training that is motherhood.