- “While motherhood sometimes brings you to your knees, soon you find that your heart is once again filled with love and hope,” writes Päivi Sappinen, an entrepreneur and mother of three from Uusikaupunki.
When my brother and I were teenagers, our mother always used to say to us “no good deed goes unpunished” whenever we would disagree with her or shrug our shoulders thinking that we knew all about how the world worked, which is so typical of people at that age. Or at least, we thought that we knew more than our parents, the old fogeys that they were.
At the time, I thought her words were uncalled for since I always said thanks after dinner or when getting my weekly allowance. What more was I supposed to do? Give her a trophy? Roll out the red carpet? Bring her a crown and a sceptre?
Now, as a mother of three teenagers myself, I understand what my mother really meant. It wasn’t about seeking praise. It was simply about being noticed.
Mothers have a lot on their minds. Nowadays, they have a fancy term for it in Finland: “meta work”. However, in the ‘90s, it was simply called motherhood. It’s more of a subtle and less visible type of work but still extremely important for ensuring a smooth everyday life for the family.
Mothers are masters of caring and noticing and remembering things. We’re constantly marking down and calculating a number of things on a mental Excel sheet, even when no one around sees it. We can notice changes in the family dynamics, the circle of friends and the attitudes of people around us. We remember birthdays, name days, toy days and trips to the forest and will wake up in the night trying to figure out where our middle child’s swimsuit is when there’s swimming at school next week.
That motherhood Excel has all the everyday schedules safely stored without anyone even noticing. The everyday life simply rolls on according to the schedule you set yourself.
The motherhood Excel has its own column dedicated to worrying, and an extensive one at that. In addition to all the scheduling and organisation work, there is a plethora of different scenarios about things that could hypothetically happen. The reason why mothers kindly ask their children to pick up the phone or to be available in some other capacity is for the simple fact that it allows them to be more at ease, not to keep tabs or to annoy.
I don’t think that motherhood is something where you can ever be truly ready or perfect. Rather, it’s a lifelong process, and I think I may have just barely completed my basic studies at this point. While the feeling of inadequacy has at times brought me to my knees, all you need is a kind word in passing from your sulky teenager to once again find your heart filled with hope and love.
I wonder if there’s anything more moving than hearing the word “mum” out of your muttering teenage boy’s mouth. No, I don’t think there is.
What’s good about parenthood is that the process of raising one another is mutual. In raising my children, I find that I myself have grown just as much, if not more. Without my children, I would undoubtedly be a different person. Not any less of a person, just different.
Despite all the ungratefulness, inadequacies, guilt and worries, I am extremely grateful to have become a mother. Motherhood only gets better with age, which I hope can at least bring a degree of comfort to parents trying to make it through the sleep deprivation phase with their small children.
While I do like flowers, chocolate and gifts, the smaller everyday acts bring me even more joy: the hugs, the kind words, being noticed in some way. I wish that all mothers and anyone who fancies themselves a motherly figure of any kind could get to experience such moments, not only on Mother’s Day but throughout the year.