Thursday, February 11, 2010

The desire to be a good mom

When I was talking to my mom last night, I told her I was making my first batch of homemade yogurt.

“I used to do that all the time,” she said. I couldn’t remember her making regular yogurt. But I did remember her making yogurt popsicles and I associate them with very positive memories. 25-30 years later, I still remember this homemade treat she took the time to make. I also remember, with the same or greater vividness, the horrible powdered milk we grew up on and the terrible lumps it would leave on top of the cereal. I want to gag just thinking about it.

In every decision, there is a tradeoff. Decisions as small as what type of milk to use, what to serve to eat, what to do together and what to do as an individual all have tradeoffs. I’m not going to be a slave to my child or society, sacrificing myself so that he can have everything perfect. But I also want him to have the best I can reasonably provide. Most of all, I want all of use to be able to look bad fondly on these times. I want to remember a life as a mother, a professional and an individual. I want River to recall feelings of safety, warmth, exploration and happiness. Unfortunately, negative memories make a stronger impact on the brain and they are more likely to be remembered than the positive ones. But I want to limit his gag reflexes decades down the road. I want him to remember treats, activities, moments created for him with love.

Basically, I want him to think I’m a good mom. I want him to be happy he ended up with us. I want him to believe that I did my best and that the best was good enough. I worried about this a lot before River was born, due to my own rocky relationship with my mother. While I was rather removed from the developing fetus during pregnancy, after his birth the connection happened naturally. I leave him with ease and frequency, but I return to him happy and ready to spend quality time with him.

Right now, I know I’m a good mom in his eyes. He loves me, he idolizes me and I can see and feel it in our interactions. Sometimes I feel undeserving. Other times I feel it’s only natural, because I love him with equal force. Other than his scary fall into the pool last summer, I don’t think he has any negative memories so far. His life has been a vale of happiness. He laughs and smiles and intently observes the world around him for most of the day.

I try not to think about it too much, but a little nagging sense tells me it won’t always be like this. What will happen when he ventures out more into society and meets the moms of other kids, moms that for a variety of reasons he might think do a better job? Will he then be disappointed in me, dissatisfied? He will have frightening, troubling, perhaps horrific experiences as he moves on in life. Will he blame me for not protecting him adequately? If something happens to me, will he blame me for not protecting myself adequately?

I can only do my best. But I want to be a good mom. I want him to grow up and tell his kids about a happy and secure childhood. I don’t want to screw up.

1 comment:

Lainey Wright said...

What scary fall into the pool??? -what did I miss??

Also, your mom's powdered milk memories make me gag too! -gak, gag, ak!!