Tag Archives: parenthood

Behind a Mother’s Eyes

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The following is a guest post I wrote for the incredibly talented, honest, and unfiltered Clementine Ford-Wilcox. I highly recommend reading and following her blog, and I was honored to be asked to contribute a piece that speaks to the core of what motherhood means to me.

Behind a mother’s eyes waits a world of wonder, worry, astonishment, confusion, hope, heartbreak, and love. From the instant she welcomes her baby into the world until the day she waves goodbye, her lenses have recorded and stored volumes of memories. Each second of life weighted more pivotal than the next, she tiptoes over the shattered pieces of disappointment, champions the triumphs, and stands as a shield to deflect harm.

Often thankless and regularly ridiculed, the job of a mother is the world’s most vital undertaking. Like a sculptor chiseling a figure from stone, a beautiful, breathing work of art stands as a symbol of the effort applied to the process. She does this without the expectation of praise or applause, but because the task of nurturing a human being is not a burden or an albatross. It is her purpose.

No one thinks about the nights spent hovering over calculators wondering where to find the bottom line, or the furrowed brows carved from releasing a child into the harsh realities of an environment specifically designed to pressure, threaten, and challenge. Listening to the minutiae of a school day’s proceedings, driving to early morning soccer games, enduring cacophonic choral recitals, and patching broken hearts after fumbling attempts at navigating puppy love all serve as the ingredients for a cake made by a baker still deciphering the recipe. But this endeavor is exponentially more love than labor.

Stumbles and missteps are expected, but being a mother means learning more from the losses than the victories, and imparting those lessons to that innocent face watching your actions with studied attention. Mimicry is inevitable when you are someone else’s entire world. The challenge is crafting a life that is worthy of emulation.

It is precisely this ability to direct focus on what is truly important that will invariably separate a mother from the masses. Perhaps there are men who walk a similar line. I’m not a father, and I never had one. But I know my jet-propulsion fuel has come from one very capable and concentrated source, and my rocket would have plummeted into the sea long ago had it not been for the strength, foresight, and intuition that live behind a mother’s eyes.

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Fatherless Figuring

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The only thing that I can even remotely relate to the notion of having a child is someone handing me a scalpel and asking me to perform a complex medical procedure. It’s wildly intimidating, I’m completely unqualified, and a human life is at risk.

For those of you with children, this concept probably seems absurd. You’d argue it’s the most natural, most biologically-hardwired thing in the world. You barely remember a single day before parenthood provided you with purpose, granting you a gift that made you feel alive and empowered. You were waiting, wandering without focus, until you were blessed with this tiny bundle of instant selflessness.

I get it. Well, I get the general drift. But, I just can’t seem to choke down all the Kool-Aid.

I imagine a number of factors are to blame. I’m an only child. I grew up without a father. I think the survival of the planet hinges on population reduction. Blah, blah, blah.

But, recently, I had a mini revelation. I’ve lived (for longer than I care to admit) with the general belief that serious life decisions and responsibilities are handled by adults. Grownups are experienced, knowledgable, and capable of tackling whatever unplanned catastrophes happen to surface. They can get married, buy houses, have children, organize barbecues, and generally have a damn fine time.

Well, now I’m considerably deep into this “adulthood” everyone keeps talking about, and I don’t feel I have even the simplest skill set required to navigate that world. So, since I live in a constant state of contemplation, I’ve arrived at a couple of conclusions.

1) It’s difficult to foster someone else’s childhood when you still want to revisit your own.

-Many thanks to Mom for this one. Ages 0-18 were a self-actualized dream come to life…full of wonder, hope, love, excitement, and security. Sure, there was one major bump on that perfectly-paved road, but that’s why George Hansburg made the pogo stick.

2) You can’t have a kid when you still ARE a kid.

-Obviously, this isn’t true. Every major city in America proves this thesis false on a daily basis. But, I’m referring to a state of mind. Undoubtedly, there are some who would argue I’m a 90-year-old man, living in the body of a weird, writing hermit. However, habitual handcuffs and erratic sleeping patterns aside, I watch the world with the same discerning eyes I had at 15. Maybe everyone feels like that. There’s a saying that we never realize we age until we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror. Well, that may very well be the case. Regardless, these teenage peepers still see the news of impending fatherhood with the same, balanced mix of pity and terror. It’s not celebration. It’s sympathy.

But, I suppose there’s some future awakening or dormant life event waiting to flip those tables and make me one of the “normals.” Anything is possible.

For now, I’ll continue to stay in awe of these crazy youngsters and their fancy adult lives, living like an old man with a teenage heart.