Is there a term for a mother who no longer actively mothers? A mom whose children have grown up and don't need her to feed and dress them? To set rules? To guide and advise? To nurse and chauffeur and remind and nag and admonish? To kiss boo-boos?
Ex-mom isn't quite right.
Passive mom? No, not quite right either.
Retired mom? Former mom?
Chiddow? No, they haven't died; they've just grown up.
Maybe it's like the American President. Once they're no longer doing the job they're still called President so-and-so. What was once a vocation is now just a title. In honor of what they USED to do.
The ironic thing is, if you're an effective mother, you gradually work yourself out of a job. Planned obsolescence, in a way. Not designed to break, but to withdraw, to disengage.
To let go.
The great philosopher Velcro said it best: "RRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiipppp!"
(As in TIME has RIPPED my BABY from my LOVING ARMS. That's twice now, and it's not getting easier.)
It's pathetic, really, the way I just can't face reality. Like an aging starlet auditioning for leading lady, but getting the role of "old woman on bench". A background character in a filler scene, destined for the cutting room floor.
Two stories come to mind on this morning that I contemplate stale motherhood.
First story: This morning I made muffins for my 19-year-old. He still lives here, but just barely. He's been quite sick with a cold. Coughing and hacking all night, ignoring all advice to come home earlier than 3:00 am, to eat something other than fast food, to rest a little.
Last night he finally confessed that he hasn't been eating much lately - too sick - and that he needs to eat some good food.
This morning I laid out the wholesome ingredients: - nutri-flour, real butter, milk, eggs, blueberries (his favourite), and stirred the muffin-batter with passionate, motherly, jiggly arms.
Lovingly spooned it in to the cups and double-checked the oven timer. Popped those steaming bits of heavenly goodness onto a serving plate and drizzled butter on top, perfectly timed for his noon-ish emergence from the lair-cum-bedroom.
"Muffins!" I exclaimed breathlessly. "Fresh blueberry muffins!". "I've made them just for you", I trilled!
"Oh", he said, jiggling his car keys and guzzling cough syrup straight from the bottle, "I'm going out for breakfast with Anisha and Isaac".
And then he left.
I am now alone in the house with 12 muffins. Okay, okay, now only 10 muffins. Burp.
But, the point is - he doesn't need me. Wah!
He has total freedom, and I'm still emotionally stuck to him like the dingle-berry on my cat's bum.
I'm supposed to rejoice in his independence? Bah. I want to shove a muffin in his tail-pipe!
Last summer I was out walking on the sea-wall in White Rock. A sea-side community with touristy shops, ice-cream parlours etc. Both sidewalks on either side of the main drag are thick with strollers, walkers, and runners of all ages. Beaches clogged with youth and beauty and bare skin....
A shirtless young man, of about 16 years, is walking toward me on the sidewalk. Behind him is a group of four women between 50-60 years old. Across the street the young man/boy spies a woman who must be his mother. It's an accidental meeting, but he wants something.
"Mom", he calls, and then louder, "MOM"! (like he's about to ask for the car keys or to borrow 20 bucks or something).
Without hesitation, with nary a conspiratorial look at each other, the four women behind the young man shout, in perfect unison, "WHAT?", and then burst into cackling, hysterical laughter.
They laughingly look around them, to see if everyone gets it. Does everyone get the joke? Yes, we do! They aren't his mom, but they still answer to Mom!
The young man starts to laugh then, as does his real mom, and the rest of us within hearing range.
We all get it: Once a mom, Always a mom. Even if we only practice occasionally. We still glow with pride; we still worry and fret. Sometimes we hover.
Maybe it should be called, "Mom-on-standby". We don't have to re-learn how to ride the mom bicycle, because we never really got off of it. We just coast, or pedal off in new and exciting directions, but we always circle back. Just to check. And if called, we'll be there in a heartbeat. Baking pans and band-aids and all.
Feeling bitter-sweet today,
Kathryn : )