I have often wondered how different my life would have been had I had children. I made the choice early on to focus on school and my career, and it never seemed that the time was right to start a family. I felt guilty enough leaving my dog alone for so many hours, let alone a child. It’s far too late to entertain the idea now, though- that ship has sailed.
Would I have been a good mother? I like to think so, though I know that I would been a very flawed one. I think of the wonderful examples I had in my own mother, my aunts, my sister, and several friends who are incredibly loving and supportive mothers. I feel great admiration and awe when I hear them talk of their children with such primal love and devotion- such a beautiful thing on so many levels. However, I also feel like an outsider. There are things that I will never completely understand about their relationships, as I have never given birth, never known the powerful connection with a human being that I have given birth to or adopted, that feeling that you would give your life for this human from the first moment you laid eyes on him or her. What an amazing and powerful gift that must be.
I do know how strong my bond was with my own mother. She was my first best friend, sacrificing so much for me over the years in ways that I will never truly understand. I loved her with all my heart, but I know she loved me and my siblings in a different way, in a way that only a mother could. No matter what any of us did, her love never wavered, and she was ferociously protective and supportive. She believed in us when no one else did, cheered us on through each of life’s hurdles.
My students have called me ‘Momma Gainey’ and ‘Clarinet Mom’ over the years, as I guess my maternal instincts come through in my teaching. I hope that I can at least be a good role model and an advocate for the young people that I am blessed to worth with, helping them to believe in themselves, to know just how wonderful and special they are, just as my mother did for me.
Dan and I sometimes say, “If we had had children…” and then go on to describe what they would be like. Dan insists that we would have had a little girl with short hair who followed me around wearing overalls (my favorite casual attire), playing a “tarinet”. I insist that she would have his sweet brown eyes. I only hope that any child we would have had would have known that they were perfect as they were, loved completely, no matter what. I hope that I can share that same acceptance with any young people I encounter.
And so, today I send wishes for a Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers. Not all of us are given the gift of motherhood, but we can all contribute to the next generation, we can all give young people much-needed support as they navigate this thing called life. I also send love and gratitude to my sweet Heavy D. You were so right- I would never understand how much I would miss you until you were gone.