Friday, May 02, 2008

motherhood

I thought about saving this post for Mother's Day, but I decided to just go ahead and post it a little early. You can think of it as a reminder that Mother's Day is coming up quickly, I guess.

Both my mom and Brett's mom were up here recently for a week (separate weeks, back-to-back) to help watch Elanor. As much as I love our families and as much as I love having company, three weeks straight of family (my sister was here, too) is a lot for anyone to handle, especially for Brett and me since we tend to really value our independence.

But both visits with our moms turned out to be wonderful and completely un-stressful. I've been thinking about why they were so great and I've come to some conclusions.

Since I've started the journey to become a mom, I've seen some interesting changes in my relationship with my mom as well as with Brett's mom. It's been fairly imperceptible, and has happened by degrees -- there was no huge watershed moment of transformation, although my miscarriage as well as Elanor's actual birth were both big markers along the way.

It's hard to describe what exactly has changed (but I'm going to try, and probably use a lot of unnecessary words in the process), except to say that both of those relationships are better than ever these days.

I find myself calling both my mom and Brett's mom a lot more often just to chat: to tell them about what Elanor did today, to tell them about something funny that happened, or to ask them a question about something mom-related. This is not the norm; sometimes I'd go a week or more without talking to my mom, and months without talking to Brett's mom. Now, I feel like at the very least I should let them know what's going on with Elanor, since I know that aside from Brett and me, they both want to know more than anyone every little cute thing that she does and every new skill she masters.

Anyway, I'll start with my mom...suddenly, since Elanor has been born, I find myself having sooo much more understanding about her mom-ness. The biggest part of this is the mom-nagging, which used to drive me completely nuts.
  • "Be careful! Call me when you get there! I worry when you take the bus at night." (No matter that I'm nearly 27 years old and have lived on my own for nearly 10 years.)
  • "You're tired? Well, have you eaten any protein or had enough water today?" (Yes, Mom, I know, food and water are important for humans.)
  • "Don't forget to thank [so-and-so] for the baby gift!" (I know, Mom, I'm not completely socially inept.)
  • "You're home alone? Make sure you lock your doors!" (Sigh.)
You know. Things like that. It used to drive me nuts when she'd nag. I'd think, "Um, yeah, I KNOW, Mom! I'm a grownup! I can take care of myself!" Now, I don't mind. She can nag all day long...it's all a part of how moms express their love; I get that now, even though Elanor isn't old enough for me to nag yet.

And Brett's mom...well, Brett and I have been together for nine years now, so we've had a long time to get to know each other. I think we have always had a better in-law relationship than most people, but over the past two years -- especially over the past several months -- it's gotten much more close. We are open and candid with one another these days, and our relationship is much less formal than it once was. It's really nice. I feel like we're on the same team, so to speak -- the "We Love Brett and Elanor" team.

Having Elanor, in addition to some other family things that have happened, has helped to bring about that change. It's made me understand how strong the bond is between mother and child, which, coupled with the fact that having Elanor has made me feel closer to Brett than ever, takes away that underlying sense of competition that marks so many mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationships. There's no need for any competition; I don't feel at odds with Brett's mom. We are on the same team, the "We Love Brett and Elanor" team.

I'm so very blessed to have such an incredible mom and such and incredible mother-in-law (not to mention my sister, my sister-in-law, and Brett's sisters). And Elanor is blessed to have wonderful grandmas and aunties who will help Brett and me teach her about life and God and love and, well, everything.

Here's a fun picture of Brett's mom, me and Elanor, and my mom from about a month ago, when all the ladies went to the beach.

Happy Mother's Day, Mema and Noni. I love and appreciate you both!

So, fellow bloggers, tell me: did your relationship with your mom or your mother-in-law change after you had a baby? If so, was it a good change or a bad change?

3 comments:

Kris said...

My relationships with my mother and mother-in-law did change. At first I was annoyed with my mom. She'd say things like "why are you breastfeeding. A bottle is so much easier and you kids didn't die from formula." But it got better. She was there when I needed advice and we do talk more on the phone too. My MIL is wonderful and is so gentle with Ry. When I'm frustrated, she's that ever calm being. You do have a bigger appreciation for what they did for you for ALL those years and understand it so much more than you ever could have it you weren't a mom too.

Rachel said...

Things have improved with my MIL, now we have something in common.

I can't say the same for my relationship with my mom. It's too much to get into on a comment though.

Liz said...

i've been very fortunate in having a great friendship with my m-i-l, but since having our son, our relationship has changed in many ways. most for the best, some for the annoying, but mostly for the best. sam brings us all together--we can spend an hour on the phone just talking about what he ate for lunch. and now that a daughter will be entering the equation, we need to up our cell phone minutes.
with my own mother, it's been such a treat to watch her play with sam, hug and kiss him. as your own mother's child, it's so difficult to imagine (at least it is for me) your mom sitting on the floor racing matchbox cars or baa'ing like a sheep. but to see my own mother, at 71 years of age, playing tractors with my 2-year-old son...well, what a gift!
as i'm preparing to have my own daughter i have so many conflicting emotions. my relationship with my mother, growing up, was strained at best. i was difficult, i know this. she was rigid and disapproving (still is), so i have a lot of fear of repeating what i view as mistakes. it's a whole post that i'm still concocting in my brain.
but isn't it wonderful to feel like and ADULT, finally, amongst a larger group...the peer group of mothers? weird and wonderful all at once.