It's Mother's Day in most countries this Sunday. That's when we celebrate our mothers, make breakfast for them, give them flowers, perhaps some little handmade gifts, invite them to dinner in a fancy restaurant. Hopefully it's a day for mothers to take a breath, to slow down.
After that it's back to normal, to the usual busy life of an average mom - here and everywhere. This is when I take a moment to contemplate what motherhood means, what it means to me.
None of us is born as a mother. We grow into this role, just as our belly grows with the baby inside. Or with the hopes and dreams when you wait for the child you are going to adopt.
I remember the overwhelming joy when my daughter was born, when I first held her in my arms. It still is a miracle to me, it still holds all the wonder for me, just like that very first day. This was the day when an invisible bond was created between my daughter and myself; it was also the first day when a steady worry started to be my constant companion, the worry for my child.
No one prepares you for this worry. Yet, it belongs to motherhood (or parenthood) and it is not going to go away - ever. A little cough lets you see your child coming down with pneumonia, ending in intensive care. When s/he just starts to walk, every little obstacle is a potential barrier that will let you child fall, hurt, and you see the scenarios before your inner eye, the ambulance with its loud siren, racing to the nearest hospital. Catastrophes lurk at every corner. Every stranger is a potential kidnapper.
It's difficult to find a balance.
Yet there is also the joy, the moments when arms are wrapped around your neck and your face is covered with wet little kisses and a "I love you, Mommy". It makes you so happy you want to cry (sometimes you actually do). These moments become rarer the older your child gets - and then they really make you cry.
There are the wonderful moments that make it into the scrapbooks - birthdays, play times, the first steps, starting kindergarten. The giggles and the laughter. Later you wonder where that bubbly little kid went to when you have a moody teenager somewhere hiding in the house, not talking to you.
It's moment like those where you love your children with an aching heart.
Your own heart breaks a bit when their heart is broken. When the "best" friend ditches your child. When the cat dies that your child loves with all her little heart. When she reads books and identifies with the characters in such a way that she cries when something bad happens to them.
It's a new challenge at every turn.
For me motherhood also means to introduce your child to the wonders of nature. To make them aware of environmental challenges, to share responsibilities like leaving a clean campsite, no littering, not disturbing animals and respecting wildlife in general.
I am responsible for my child growing up into a compassionate, confident adult. I hope I can help her in having a healthy self-esteem. To be responsible with our planet and other people. It is my responsibility to give her the tools that she will need to lead an independent life, make good choices for her future - and then let her go. Bittersweet as it is.
Never forget the fun, though. My daughter and I laugh together a lot. We often share the same music, watch the same movies, read the same books. I have always loved to read the books she read (even though that means I probably have to read "Divergent"). We both share a passion for "Lord of the Rings" and "Downton Abbey" (yes, you can say this in the same sentence).
We both were Girl Scouts together. She as a Brownie and a Junior, I as a "cookie mom" and a troop leader.
We travel a lot with our daughter. I believe it opens the mind, makes you tolerant to other cultures and is just plain interesting to get out of your comfort zone and see and experience something different. I hope I have instilled the travel bug in her, the way it has been instilled in me by my parents.
But above all - there is love. Always and forever.