A Mother's Hormones

I watched my daughter push a grocery cart through a snowy parking lot the other night and my eyes misted up. I couldn't help myself; it was a biological response to the flood of hormones that surge through me at a certain time of the month. Don't judge me. I'm a woman.

I was furtively wiping the wetness from my eyes when she hopped back into the car, sitting in the passenger seat like the little adult she is so quickly growing into. I must have had a flashing neon sign on my forehead, blinking "Proceed with Caution, Hormonal Woman Ahead," because she gave me a strange look and asked me what was wrong.

"Nothing," I sniffed as I turned the key and proceeded to put the vehicle into drive.

"Something's up. Two minutes ago you were normal and now you look like someone kicked your dog."

How does one describe to their offspring that they were suddenly attacked with a severe case of maternal love? That watching my long legged daughter bound across the parking lot suddenly reminded me that she was no longer the wobbly-footed toddler from many moons ago? That in watching her I realized I was watching my future and I was suddenly overcome with a huge amount of mommy pride.

I made her. And I didn't do a terrible job.

Even more mind boggling, I made her when I was just barely an adult myself, with no real clue to who I was and with nary an instruction book in sight.

I'm thirty-five years old and suddenly the sounds of a clock ticking out the seconds passing rings in my ears. Every day. Loudly. While other women around me hear the tick tock of their biological clock, I remain deaf to that noise. It's been a decade since I last gave birth to a child, a kid who not only stole my heart but my ability to have any more biological children.

Three kids by the age of 25 and another one picked up at age 33 and I don't feel the biological imperative to bring forth life. I've been there, I've done that. I'd love more children, absolutely, unabashedly, but I have no actual desire to produce them myself. I would be equally satisfied to adopt another, as I would be to purchase one off of eBay.

The sound that haunts me every day is the knowledge that my time with my kids is ending. Their childhoods are almost over, my role as their guide to life is coming to an end. The contract is expiring. Fric is standing on the doorstep to 15 and Frac is right behind her, chasing down the days to 14 like a dog runs after a rubber ball.

One day soon, in a blink of an eye, it will just be the Jumbster and I, alone, waiting for the phone to ring, eager to hear from a husband or a child who has flown from the nest to soar into their own independent world. The downy feathers of childhood are quickly falling out being replaced with the colourful plumage of adulthood.

I don't know if I would have been this sensitive to the passing of time if Bug hadn't died. I never would have thought I'd be emotionally affected by the thought of an empty nest. Most days I stand behind my kids, eager to shove them off of a cliff. Somehow, along the way, I've surprised myself with this maudlin sentimentality I've acquired.

I never expected to enjoy being a mother. Even as I pushed out my first child I was overcome with this horrible sense of 'what the heck did I just do?' But here I am, enjoying the heck out of being responsible for live young. I'm haunted forever with the absence of my third child and his death looms large over everything. I can't help but feel an eternal sense of guilt for the time I lost with him because of his death.

It hangs on my very being and reminds me not to take every minute I have with my existing children for granted. It's the reason I attend every sports event, volunteer to chaperone mind numbingly boring field trips, offer to have one endless sleep over after another under my roof. I don't want to miss a moment of my kids' childhood when I've already lost so much of one child's life.

But it isn't just grief or guilt that inspires such parental involvement. Somewhere along the way I discovered I get a charge out of watching these children grow. It fuels me and I've grown up into the woman I finally am just as my children have grown alongside me. I found what I didn't even know I was looking for all those years ago. My kids make me want to be better. To do more. To try harder.

Like a rollercoaster ride you never want to end, I find myself wishing for more time with my kids. I am plagued with a desperate wish to slow down the sands of time just to prolong my daily involvement in their lives. I want to wring every drop of joy I can from simply being their mother because I know it will fuel me for the rest of my life.

Of course, if they turn into unemployed bums mooching off my largesse as they live on my couch when they are 30 years old I'll likely read this and want to slap myself silly.

The mere act of having children, both accidental and planned, has turned into the greatest thing I never intended. More important to me than the fame and fortune I once dreamed of as a child myself.

For one moment, in a small town parking lot, I was suddenly seized with gratitude for not having the sense to use protection all those years ago and bring forth life.

As Fric stared at me like I had just grown a set of horns in the middle of my forehead, I instead chose to keep my maternal pride silent, and looked into her questioning eyes and simply told her, "I bit my tongue."

"Oh I hate when that happens."

Me too kid, me too.

Time really does fly when you're having fun.