Not Mother Enough

Photo credit JC Staff,  August 2008

Not Mother Enough  — by jcstaff_
Strangers’ reactions followed the same pattern,
they’d look, stare, then mentally ballpark the ages.
You’ve got your hands full!” then a familiar chuckle.
Did they all think they were the first to declare this?
I’d just smile politely, letting them think they really were.
Three, two and newborn; three babies aged three and under,
all planned, all adored, our little family complete and compact.
Fascinatined, I watched their development flourishing every day.
They looked to me for praise and approval, as they learned to walk,
say recognisable words, use crayons, spoons, come down a slide and read.
Like little ducklings they were, all three in a line.
I was so calm and mothering them came so easy,
I really could do it with my eyes closed.
Though they never let me sleep.
And I never minded.
“It will get easier,” people would say. But I knew they were wrong.
The birth until the baby’s 5th birthday is the simple part, a honeymoon.
Children smell lovely in their drowsiness, their tender breath sweet, gentle.
Glimpses of moonlight through curtain cracks, streaking the wooden flooring,
sitting in the armchair next to their cribs with one cherub or another in my arms.
Surely, that’s why they woke me, to snatch those moments of sensory delight.
I loved those secret minutes in the still of night, soft, warm babies held close.
Days filled with sparkling eyes, watching me with such endearment,
blinking amazed, like I was the best mother in the whole world.
Those were the days – I was right, it is more complicated now.
But has it become harder, or has my belief in my ability to mother, vanished?
It feels like I’m doing it all wrong these days, I’ve lost the map and compass.
Now it’s me looking to my children for their praise and approval.
I mostly raised myself from about nine, navigating my teens alone.
How can I guide our ducklings successfully, with nothing to go on?
Can I do this?  Can I help these young beings grow up into adults?
I have no confidence; I tell them.
“Sorry…” I say, “I’m sorry you got me.”
Then one morning, I arrive home hot and damp after a leisurely run.
I’m stretching on the steps as my middle child opens the front door.
Pleased to see me back, she greets me warmly and says,
“Oh Mum, I hope I can run like you when I’m older!”
Maybe, just maybe, I am doing it. Right now.
Maybe, just for today, I am mother enough.

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