Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.
That one word describes the whole plight of motherhood — making a gazillion split-second, carefully considered, inconsequential, life-or-death decisions that need to be made every minute of every day from the moment your baby takes his first gasping breath of air until … well … forever.
It starts the minute they shoot out of your womb and they put that squirming precious angel on your chest, still sticky with fluids and something that looks like goat cheese. Are you breastfeeding? Or Not. A decision. The first of an infinite number. And one that ends somewhere in between shamed if you do/shamed if you don’t. You can’t win.
And it seems like you will never win. There’s only losing. There are only mistakes and bad decisions to haunt you.
Welcome to being a mother.
Is he sick or just fussy? Is he getting enough milk or too much? Who knew he was strong enough to push himself off the sofa and fall to the floor … on his head? Should I call the doctor?
Time passes. More decisions are made. Should I feed him a chicken nugget? If I do, will he ever eat real food again? Should he eat sugar? High “fruit toast” (as my son called it) corn syrup? Red dye #40? Dirt? A bug?
Public school? Private school? Is that friend a good influence? Should I call the teacher? That bad child’s parents? Poison control?
Should he play that video game? Baseball? Basketball? Soccer? The bassoon?
Will those glasses get his ass kicked at school? That haircut? His name?
Should we get a cat? A lizard? Some fish?
How can I answer that question about math? About what those two cows in the field are doing to each other? About why the girl was mean to you? About whether there is a god? About why you have to wear a tie?
What’s for dinner? What’s for lunch? What’s for breakfast? Can I have a snack?
Can I have a puppy? Can I have a phone? Can I have a guitar? Can I be in a band? Can we play in a bar? Can you drop me off at the arcade? Can I borrow the car?
Before you know it, you’ve gone from Should I pack his teddy bear for daycare? to Should I pack some condoms for college?
And as a single mother, every last one of the decisions was mine, and only mine, to make. No pressure there, right? Maybe it’s different in households with two parents. I don’t know for sure, but I feel like even then the mothers probably bear the burden of most all of the decision-making.
It’s exhausting. And you’re always full of doubt in yourself, and your thought process, and whether your decision was “right” — whatever that word means to you — because you never know what little, tiny flip decision you made on the fly might scar your child forever. And you probably never will.
But then one day a six-foot-four-inch bundle of all your good, bad, and mediocre decisions comes lumbering up to you like a big puppy, wraps his arms around you, and says “I love you, Mama.” Your heart melts. And you know right then that all the worry, all the fretting, all the fear, and all the misgivings were worth it to get you to that one special moment.
And you realize that of all the gazillion, bazillion decisions you’ve made, the very best one is right there in front of you.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas out there (especially my sweet mama!).
And I extend warm thoughts to all those who are missing their own mothers, have lost children, or find this day difficult to celebrate.
And if you want to read other Mother’s Day posts, I’ve written about being a mama here and what a bad child I was here. And I’ve shared advice from a whole lot of mamas here and my own mama here. Enjoy!