In honor of my boys’ upcoming birthdays, I have written a blog post about my best job ever! No amount of awards, job titles and degrees come close to my role as a Mom.
Newly pregnant almost 29 years ago now, I poured over the “What to Expect When You are Expecting” book. One week, my baby was the size of a grape, then a peach pit, then a peach. After that baby, Christopher Joseph Erickson was born on Monday morning, July 30, 1990 at 9:29 a.m., I started reading “What to Expect the First Year” while simultaneously reading (once again) “What to Expect When You Are Expecting” while awaiting the birth of baby number two. Twelve months and six days after Christopher was born, Benjamin John Erickson, my blond baby arrived on Monday morning, August 5, 1991 at 9:17 a.m. I then had two books to read, “What to Expect the First Year” and “What to Expect the Second Year”. I forget if there were any “sequels” to these books, but I remember the main areas of worry centered around teething, toilet training and moving to a bigger bed. I guess after these books, I needed to learn about the specific ages by living them with my boys. And now, these little babies will be 28 and 27 in the next ten days. And there was one book that I never found, that may had been helpful called, “What to Expect When You are a Mother.” So, here goes my attempt at that book.
What to Expect When You Are a Mother of Young Children. When you are the mother to two boys, expect to learn all the names of every piece of construction equipment conceivable. You will spend many joyful hours driving around in your station wagon looking for construction sites and being gleeful when you can spot giant dump trucks, backhoes, and excavators all in one spot. When you are the mother to two boys, expect that you will have to persevere in putting together a huge Lego kit on Christmas. When you are the mother to two boys, you also can expect to learn more about Star Wars than you ever imagined. You can also expect to spend a lot of time searching out different Star Wars figures at stores and eBay. When you are the mother to two boys, you will also learn to spend a lot of time at batting cages, baseball fields, and soccer fields. You will spend a large part of your spring and summer nights on a baseball field in all sorts of weather. When you are the mother to two boys, expect to learn a lot about fireman and worry about your two boys who will never take off their “fire coats and boots” even when the weather is very hot and humid (and be prepared to have the Pediatrician laugh at you when you express that worry to her). When you are a mother, expect to spend a lot of time planning theme based birthday parties (which are a lot less intense than the ones I see happening now). When you are a mother, you don’t expect to get a call midday from the daycare center saying your child is having an allergic reaction to peanut butter. And in later years, you never expect that call about one of your children being in a serious accident either. These expects were scary to say the least.
What to Expect as a Mother of Teenagers/Young Adults. There is no book in the world that prepares you for teenage-hood. When you are a mother to teenagers, expect to start getting gray hair when that learner’s permit has been obtained at the Registry and the first statement is “Can I drive?” Expect to bite your lip numerous times when it looks like you and the car will meet the phone pole. Expect to have a big pit at the bottom of your stomach when they drive away for the first time after receiving that license. Expect to have some dents and scratches on your once pristine vehicles. Expect them to lose track of time and be late, and expect them to lose that expensive high-tech key. Expect them to not answer their cell phones when you are wondering where they are. Expect them to purchase something that you have told them they can’t have, like a motorcycle. Expect to get the kind of disjointed sleep that you did when they were babies. Expect them to move, numerous times – into and out of high-rise dorms, into storage units, out of storage units, into apartment buildings with ample parking and into three deckers in Cambridge with limited parking. Expect them to be not ready to actually move and expect to have to organize things so that move can happen. Expect to have to do something crazy like having to hold on to a mattress that is precariously perched on the roof of the car while singing “Life in the Fast Lane” as you drive the mile between apartments in Cambridge. Expect that they will ask you to move home, which ordinarily isn’t a problem unless your house is ready to be put up for sale.
Expect them to be disappointed – over a grade, a job opportunity or a personal situation. Expect them to be heartbroken and expect to be heartbroken yourself over their sadness. You can’t put a bandaid on this wound. No matter how old they are, expect them to be really sad after a divorce. The unexpected loss of the family they knew, is painful at any age.
But the biggest unexpected “expect” in my book would have to be the joy I have being the mother to these two great men. I wouldn’t trade one minute of those childhood moments for anything in the world. I have no regrets putting a career on hold to be home with the boys, while we tracked construction sites, played at the local playgrounds, and went down to the West Concord Fire Station to see Engine 44. I was sad when those nights on the baseball fields were over, I was sad when the Lego building phase was over, I was sad when the PineBox Derby days were finished, and I was sad when there were no more track meets to attend.
The other expect is expect to be incredibly proud. Expect to beam from ear to ear when you witness your child, who is managing the local supermarket, talk kindly to a senior citizen about their senior discount. Expect to be incredibly proud when you watch your child be an incredible and supportive track captain at both the high school and college level. Expect to have tears in your eyes as you watch your child cross the stage, whether it is high school, college or law school. In my world, I never expected to bring my child to an Army recruiter, but 24 hours after dropping Ben off, I never expected I would be prouder when he was sworn in as a member of the United States Army. I never expected to be an Army Mom and I have never been prouder as a Mom to watch Boot Camp graduation, AIT graduation, and seeing my son on a video “patched” while being deployed in Afghanistan. Expect to tell your child that of course he is going to pass the bar and expect to be worried for him on the day the results are released. Expect to want to shout out for him, while he is being sworn in as an attorney in a solemn courtroom, and expect to be joyful for him as he happily signs “The Big Book of Lawyers”.
And another unexpected “expect” is the switch of trust from mother to sons. At first, your children trust you for everything. As they get older, the trust starts to shift a tad. And then when they become adults, I have found, that I put a lot more trust in them. Case in point….during one trip to see Christopher, he decided that kayaking might be a good thing to do. It is not anything I had done before, but I was game. But this kayaking trip wasn’t on a simple little Concord river, it was on the crowded Potomac River. If you know me well, you know I am not a really great swimmer. And here I was, in a small little kayak, surrounded by big yachts and Pirate ships. But being with Christopher, I felt safe and secure. Another case in point, Ben decided for one of my birthdays, it would be fun to do Mount Monadnock. This was after the winter of all winters, and in April, there was still snow and ice on the trail. There were points that I was about ready to say to him, I’m good, we can turn around now”. But instead, he would calmly lead the way, turn and offer his hand, and pull me up over the ice. He kept doing this, all the way through the “false” summits until we finally got to the top. I like this switch of trust and look forward to our continued adventures together.
So, my biggest piece of advice about what to expect is this: Expect this to be the most gratifying role that you will ever have. It is my most important “job” in the world, and none of the “What to Expect” books read in early years, ever contained any information about this fact. Expect to feel the deepest love in the world, expect to be overjoyed when you see your children. Treasure them when they are young, treasure even those teenages years, and treasure them as adults. While it is their birthdays coming, my boys are my greatest gifts.