In my fourteen years of being a mom, I’ve had my share of tough questions.
The ones that induce the reddest blushes have to do with sex.
What is sex? Do you and daddy have sex? When do you ever find the time to have sex? These are the tip of the iceberg in a long line of questions from my three kids that I’ve fielded over the years. Usually while we are all at the dinner table and my mouth is full of tea or pasta.
I will never, ever, forget the time our eldest child needed the complete, don’t-hold-anything-back, tell-me-right-now, explanation of sex.
We had already dealt with the basics of where babies came from. I always answered every question that was brought to me. But every time we would get to the nitty gritty part, Tom would change the subject.
This day was different. He wanted the truth, the whole truth. Nothing else would suffice.
Of course this was also on a day that my dad was over. I will spare you the details of our conversation, but let’s just say that five years later, I still haven’t completely recovered from having to explain ejaculation to my son IN FRONT of my father.
I give my dad extra points for remaining very calm and then patting me on the back for a job well done.
Some of the toughest questions I have had to answer have been about our beautiful 11 year-old daughter. Lizzy is beloved by her two brothers, but her brain disorder that still has no name stumps some of the top medical professionals in the world. How do I answer questions about what her future will be when I don’t know?
Being a mom means being prepared for anything. I get that. I am also fairly proud of my ability to appear calm and unfazed even when I’m laughing or dying inside.
But I have to admit that I was caught off guard the other day when eight-year-old Peter asked me if he really had to go to heaven one day, and if he did, could our whole family go at the same time.
“Can I at least go with Grandpa Warren?”
Peter has been struggling with life, death and what it all means.
He has become painfully aware that he only has one grandma.
My husband lost his mom when he was 12. Peter has figured out that if his dad’s mom can die when he was little, it could happen to him too.
My explanation that I am healthy, and that Grandma Josephine had cancer a long time ago before there were so many good medicines to help have done little to calm him.
What is heaven? Where is heaven? Can we all go at the same time?
Peter asked these questions as I was serving dinner.
I did my best to reassure him and let him know I believed heaven was a beautiful peaceful place where we would be with God and see all our loved ones who went before us. I said that it must feel comforting to think that we would all be together, and that even if we didn’t all go to heaven at the same time, I believed we would all be together again one day.
He smiled and he asked for a hug. I added that I really thought we were all going to be here for a long, long time. And I let him know that when I was little, I was worried about my parents dying and leaving me.
“But now they are really old, right mommy?”
“Oh yes, Peter, really, really, really old!”
As we were laughing at this I looked over at Tom, Lizzy and Peter and I realized that to the three of them, I wasn’t just an important part of their life, I was their life.
I am the filter that they see the world through. If they are scared, they come to me. If they are sad or not feeling well, or happy, they come to me. They adore their father. They love their grandparents, but it is me that has been their constant from the day they took their first breath.
All at once, I felt grateful, humbled and a little scared to be that important to not one, but three of the sweetest people on earth.
Motherhood is a strange job. The hours are crazy, the working conditions are not alway optimal, and the people that we work for can sometimes seem very demanding. I don’t always feel up to the job. Yet, on that day I was once again reminded that it is not so much what I do that means the most to my children. It is that I am there to do it. I may not be my ideal of the perfect mother, but I am theirs.