Mothers are garbage cans. But don’t try to read into that. I don’t mean that mothers are treated like garbage, although sometimes we are: under-appreciated, under-respected, under-acknowledged. I also don’t mean we look like garbage, although, let’s face it ladies, sometimes we just don’t feel like being all put together if we’ve been kept up all night by crying babies after we’ve been nagged all day by whining children.
No, when I say mothers are garbage cans, I quite literally mean that we are receptacles of waste as our children love to give us their trash. It goes something like this: “here, Mommy”; then as my outstreched arm makes its way to the back of the car, a wet tissue is dropped into my open hand; all the while I’m feverishly trying to concentrate on the road, despite the reaching and cringing that occurs as the moistness (from the said wet tissue) touches my skin.
(I remember giving wrappers and crumpled tissues to my mom as a kid – it never once occurred to me that she might not enjoy getting them. But now that I’m on the receiving end (quite literally) it looks a whole lot different.)
Mothers are also burp clothes and diapers, and you should take that at face value too. In the first few months after my baby boy was born (I think I’ve blocked out many of the details of my daughters’ infancies now that we’ve survived them) I would call my husband each day to report how many times the baby had clobbered me with one of his various bodily fluids. (The count was 4-5 times a day at certain points.)
But in all seriousness, babies were created to be leaky, just as they were created to prefer being held while their caregiver is standing as opposed to sitting. And that’s because child-rearing is meant to be hard and require copious amounts of giving from the part of the caregiver. Which is a pretty good thing for the children out there, since according to Jewish wisdom, it’s through the act of giving that love is created.
The Hebrew word for love, ahava, is connected to the word havey, which in Aramaic means to give. It might very well be why a mother begins to love the fetus inside of her even before it is born, not in spite of the various maladies it inflicts upon her but actually because of them. And it’s that very same giving, endless giving, at all hours of the day and night, that increases and cements the love a parent has for a child once it is born.
For all the mothers out there who take all kinds of garbage and return it in kind with love, a Happy Belated Mother’s Day to you!