When I was expecting my first born, I had lofty idealistic plans to be the perfect mom. I’d be in tune with this child – knowing her every desire, fulfilling her every need, and understanding her every thought. By the time, I came home from the hospital, the idea, the plan, and the execution was shot to hell. When she cried, I was clueless to if she wanted to be held, fed, or changed. I never guessed she might not know when to stop nursing until she spouted like Mount Vesuvius or that she would turn orange if I didn’t limit her favorite Gerber sweet potatoes.
How could we share ideas when we didn’t speak the same language? The GAP had ducked for cover when a moth circled the garden.
“They don’t bite humans,” I explained to tearful eyes. “They eat wool.”
She looked stumped (language barrier again). “The same stuff your sweater is made of,” I explained.
That seemed to satisfy her.
A few days later, however, after I asked where her sweater was, instead of looking for it, she replied, “I think a moth ate it.”
Perhaps we’d have done better with an interpreter. When she cried, “A ladybug bit me,” I corrected her. “Ladybugs don’t bite,” I said.
“Okay,” she thought out loud. “Then a man bug bit me.”
“Remember when you taught colors to Jennifer?” my sister reminded me.
I did. A page of an illustrated children’s book had revealed a smudge of a primary color, next to it a smear of another color, and finally a glob of the product from mixing the two preceding hues. “Orange,” two-year-old Jennifer spouted, when I’d pointed to the colors red and yellow.
“Green,” she answered when I touched the next group with my finger.
I’d motioned to the third set of black and white blobs. She hesitated.
“Come on,” I’d coaxed, “you know this one.”
She glanced again at the smear of gray on the page. “Smog,” she’d grimaced. How could I dispute her? We lived in California. Our next kitten was gray. We named him Smog.
“Okay, so she taught me a thing or two.”
Insects had fascinated her. “What is it, Mommy?” she’d asked. She pointed to a red and black spotted bug in the garden.
“I don’t know,” I’d answered. “Let’s look it up in the encyclopedia.”
A colorful page displayed many species. She’d touched a picture. “There it is. What’s its name?”
“Japanese Beetle,” I read aloud.
“Oh, then,” she frowned, “I guess it’s just visiting.”
She never stopped talking – a Berlitz model of Chatty Cathy. “Can’t you be more quiet?” I’d asked. Then before I knew it, she was. She didn’t share her hopes and dreams as much as she once had. How I wish I had let her chatter. Still, if I listen real hard, echoing in the silence, I hear Mom’s voice, “One day she’ll understand when she has children of her own.”
And now she understands. She’s become a beautiful mother who does her best, just like I did (and maybe even a little better), to listen to, influence, and love her children.
Happy Birthday, Jenn.
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