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Mother Hen

Every now and again I get slapped in the face with the fact that becoming a mother to Simon has changed me at a pretty profound level.

Sometimes the realization comes with a groan, such as the day I made a sandwich for Matt and caught myself cutting off the crusts and dividing it into tiny squares for him. Now, this is such a cliché of motherhood that it was featured in an article called “You know you are a mother when….” our local paper ran on Mother’s Day in 2008.

Becoming the living embodiment of a cheesy Hallmark card was not easy for me. In my own arrogant and defensive mind, I have approached this whole motherhood thing as an iconoclast. NO ONE is going to tell me how mothers feel about anything, thankyouverymuch.

With this attitude still more or less intact, I found myself talking to a colleague from the Sudanese Refugee Education Fund board of directors a few days ago when she referred to the two of us and some others on the board as being the Lost Boys’ “network of local moms.”

I immediately protested. “Moms? Speak for yourself! I’m not that much older than they are. Big sister maybe, but not mom.”

And I meant it at the time. After all, the person I’ve been working the most closely with lately is my Sudanese friend Gabriel, the invited speaker at Adath Jeshurun’s selichot service ten days ago. At nearly 30, Gabriel is just ten years younger than I am. He’s earned his degree, landed his first professional job, started his own non-profit foundation, married, and started a family. In terms of life milestones, we’re peers. In terms of life experience, he’s got a huge edge on me.

Last night he came over to my house to work on a new speech and join my family for dinner. Just as it was time for him to leave for a work meeting, the heavens opened and rain poured down in buckets.

“Gabriel, do you have an umbrella with you.” I asked.

“Oh yes, I have one in my car,” he replied.

“In your car?” I protested. “But you’ll get soaked before you even get there! Here, let me dig up one for you to use.”

About fifteen minutes later the rain got even harder, coming down in the kind of sheets that make roads slippery and visibility shrink, all accompanied by furious thunder and lightening. Normally when this happens my thoughts turn immediately to worries about keeping my basement dry and lights on. But not last night! Last night all I could think of was that my friend was out in his car, driving a good distance in terrible conditions.

I wanted desperately to call and make sure he was OK. Or call and leave a message for him to call me to let me know he got home OK. This morning I’m considering what work-related excuse I can dig up to call to make sure he’s OK. And the minute those thoughts ran through my mind, I realized I sounded just like my mom and had joined the network of local moms after all. I realize many non-parents of both genders out there would feel and act the very same way. My friend Amanda, for example,  has always been the protector to her friends. But I haven’t. For me, all of this began to appear about 35 short months ago.

2 Responses to “Mother Hen”

  1. Amanda says:

    Honey, I hate to tell you, but you were ALWAYS a mother hen, even before Simon. Who else would get my friends together to get me waterproof boots for my 30th birthday, because mine had holes in them?

  2. Jessica says:

    Hm, Amanda. I got an email or two saying much the same and citing other bits from my history. I wish I would have recognized this about myself earlier; maybe I would have spent less time wondering if I wanted kids or not!

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