Being a mom changes you, and in more ways than just expanding your hips and making your boobs more pendulous. It can soften you, and at the same time give you an edge. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. First, with my kids, I felt this supreme tenderness and I cried a lot. It could have been hormones, but I like to think it was just my heart expanding.
Over the years, I’ve gotten better at being a parent, and I’ve felt a curious change come over me. My softening has been counterbalanced by…this…Mother Ferocity. At first, it was just with my kids. Like, if another kid was bullying them on the playground, I felt this rumble in my soul that erupted not as a roar, but as a lowered razor-sharp voice and the slow pronouncement of the words “No! That is not appropriate!”
But when did this ferocity translate from the playground to the grocery store, restaurants, a walk around the block, business, and the dentist’s office? When did I start telling random strangers to be careful, don’t act that way, keep your fingers to yourself, stop doing that…and when….when did I start giving THE LOOK to anyone whose behavior I disapprove of? When did I become a stone cold, controlling, mofo?
I gave THE LOOK to the pimply-faced hotel clerk yesterday when I was having trouble logging in to the Wi-Fi. This was our conversation:
ME: Wi-Fi was included in my room, but it won’t let me sign in.
CLERK: Oh! Yeah. You have to log on to the Club site and then enter in the password.
ME: Yes. I get that. But what’s the password?
CLERK: Huh. I’m not sure.
(Here is where I gave her THE LOOK and let silence vibrate between us.)
CLERK: Uhm…maybe I should go find out?
ME: Good thinking.
Hello, Mother Fierce! I’ve really got to rein it in. I am not everyone’s mother, nor do I need to educate or train or guide. I need to breathe, soften, and replace the steel edge with a…spork? Spoon? Whatever. I need to maybe be a little nicer.
I’m convinced of this because I think my ferocity is rubbing off on my kids. The other day, my nine-year old was working on his Legos and a group of neighborhood kids was playing outside our house. He ran to the door in his underwear, threw it open and yelled “Keep it down out there! I’m trying to concentrate!” Then he gave them THE LOOK, waited in the silence, then shut the door.
I shouldn’t be proud of that, but I sorta am.
Deep breaths. Deep. Breaths.