I always wanted to be a mother one day. I was still a child myself when I started dreaming about my future offspring. All my other aspirations were fluid and flexible. Motherhood wasn’t. No one encouraged me in that direction. I wasn’t remotely interested in baby dolls, preferring to play out my own versions of my mom’s hot and steamy soap operas with my Barbie’s and their beaus.
The funny thing is I’ve never been a touchy-feely person. My husband is the nurturer in our family. I grew up with parents who were more hands-off. Being accident prone, I knew where the Band-Aids were and how to take care of my own scrapes and injuries. Provided I didn’t need the hospital, the most important thing was to not bleed on the carpet. It was up to me to address my sniffles, coughs, headaches, and more without making a fuss. I’m still like that. My husband says I’m a crappy nurse. I can’t even argue with him. Fortunately, our kids aren’t. They seem to have taken after their dad and on occasion, all have nursed me. A stark contrast to how I parented. I taught the boys to shake it off whenever they got hurt. I didn't cuddle or coddle them unless it was a bad accident.
But I’m crazy about my boys. My maternal gene might be weak in some areas, but I sang to my kids, read to them, played with them, and took them into the woods all the time. My youngest two were barely out of diapers when I was setting them down in a canoe and pushing off from shore, my eldest and I paddling to the beautiful state park across from our home. We’d beach the boat and take long walks where I’d teach the boys the names of the trees and plants. We’d talk insects and birds, and pick up trash if we saw it on the ground.
I wasn’t the cookie baking mom, hubs does that. I was the mom who’d talk their ears off about politics and safe sex in the truck on the way to and from the bus stop. I was the one who’d get playful and sneakily drive toward big puddles while distracting them with conversation, my hand quietly straying to the automatic window buttons on my door. As soon as they realized I planned to splash them, it got really interesting, and even more fun. I was the mom who put on bright lipstick and chased my shrieking boys around the house. When they made a mad dash outside and locked themselves into my car, still laughing and screaming, I kissed my way around the windows, showing them what was in store for them if they dared to come out. I was the mom who raced them for the best swings at the park, brought waxed paper so the slides would be faster, and adored spinning. I loved to stare at cloud formations as much as they did. I was the one who sat at their darkened window before bed to watch the fireflies below, and point out the stars above.
I might not have been a natural mom in the traditional sense, but I like that I was a naturalist mom. Who else would haul their kids out of bed to watch meteor showers and the northern lights on a school night?