A post on Facebook said, “Tell us you have kids without saying ‘I have kids.’”
My granddaughter, Lindsay, wrote, “My coffee is cold, and so is my food, I have little bruises from being jumped on. I have more stretch marks everywhere. I enjoy nap time, laundry never ends. Brushing my hair is as far as it gets. I am a poop sniffer and a lie detector. I can reach around corners and rescue stuffed animals from danger. I am a fixer of boo-boos and a wiper of tears. I am a mother, I have no fears.”
Mothers plow through their fears. One of my earliest “Moms have no fear” incidents involved our eight-year-old. He stared appalled at a creepy crawdad that his dad invited him to see. He backed away. I thought he needed to address his fear, so I addressed mine. For the first time I touched a creepy crawdad. I did not volunteer to touch another. The boy did and grew to be a man who insists on kids trying new, scary, but safe, experiences.
Then there are snakes. I avoid them assiduously. I never touched one until I went on a school trip. The girl with me shrank back from the snake the forest ranger held for the students to touch.
“Look, it’s okay,” I reached out and stroked the snake.
“It won’t hurt you. Be brave.” I faced my own fear, touched it and realized, “Oh, it feels like ribbon!” A few years later, traveling with a grandchild, I astonished my husband when I stroked a long, fat python at the zoo. I only did that to encourage my granddaughter to do the same. Once sufficed for me.
One time, the “no fear Mom” facade came as we stood outside the bedroom where my husband’s mother spent her last few weeks. My daughter, hesitated at the door to the room where her terminal grandmother lay. She felt timid and unsure of what to do in this new experience. I empathized with her, took a deep breath and walked to say a few words. My daughter followed, greeted her grandmother quietly and they spoke for a few minutes.
Moms always have the next generation depending on them to calm their fears or ease them into sleep. Some mothers described their “I have a kid” by simply saying, “I haven’t slept through the night in eight years.” “I have one inch of space on our queen sized bed.” Or “I sleep on the floor although my bed is 20 feet away.”
Some nights a tired mom will do just about anything if their child will just go to sleep. I have laid on the bed to calm a restless child, stretched out on the floor beside them or allowed them to crawl into bed with me. Even with grandchildren I have grabbed a pillow and a book to lay in the hallway and say, “Now be quiet so we all can sleep.”
Our youngest liked to crawl in bed with us. As she grew bigger, I eventually kept an extra blanket and pillow on the floor beside me. If she came into our bedroom, I would pat her back as she laid on the floor. I wanted my bed space. For a long time, she often left her bed to sleep on the floor.
Mostly though, these days my proof that “we have kids,” comes with walls filled with pictures of the same six at different stages of their lives. If they have not called in a while, I wonder if they are okay. And, when I know they are coming, I make a special shopping trip to buy their favorites. That’s how you can know I have kids without my saying it.
Joan Hershberger is a former staff writer for the El Dorado News-Times and author of “Twenty Gallons of Milk and other columns from the El Dorado News-Times.”