"Mom-ism" is something that most women find themselves doing at various times in their lives, often to their surprise.
I'm still a mom to my grown-up son, who was there for me every minute when I needed him during my hospitalization 8 years ago. Most of the time, he was sitting right by my bed, and the rest of the time, he was keeping Whitley (who was by my bedside as well) company, by doing things like urging him to go to the cafeteria to get something to eat. He let my husband sleep on his couch during the nights when he wasn't yet allowed to set up a cot next to my hospital bed, because I was still in the ICU.
After I got out of the hospital, I had a period of time when I got "messages" beamed into my head. Most of our readers know the story of how I kept getting one particular insistent message--that just wouldn't leave me alone--to get back into touch with our grown-up goddaughter Amy.
I finally said (to myself?), "All right, leave me alone, I'll DO it," so I emailed Dora, Amy's Mom, and asked her for Amy's email address. I got back in touch with Amy and immediately began to act like a "Mom"--I lectured her until she stopped smoking, I introduced her to some of my friends in New York City, where she was living, and generally kept in touch with her. I remembered my early, single days in the Big City and how exciting--and scary--they were.
Then, seemingly out of the blue, Dora was diagnosed with colon cancer, and I suddenly realized what that insistent message had been all about. Whitley and I met up with Amy and her sister in San Antonio, where Dora was living at the time, and were able to be with them during the last days of their Mom's illness.
Amy's half-sister has a father in San Antonio who loves her very much, but Amy's dad is not really in the picture, so when Dora died, Whitley and I realized that we were left in the role of being her only parents. And just because you're all grown up (or think you are), that doesn't mean you don't need parents, as Amy has proved to us many times. We're always there in case of monetary or emotional emergencies, and I'm always nagging her about something I think she needs to do. And isn't that one of a mother's roles?
I keep meeting women who don't want to have kids, and I can understand that--kids are certainly a hassle. But as a Mom with grown-up progeny (only one of which I actually gave birth to), I have to say that I think what kids are is really an investment. We're not like Asian families, who feel they need to have sons to take care of them in old age--we have Medicare and Social Security (at least until some politician takes them away from us!)
What kids are for us is an investment in our emotional future, a bulwark against a sad old age. I've met many seemingly lonely old ladies over the years, and I can tell you that there's nothing more heart-breaking.
Sorry to cut this short, but I have to go. I need to email Amy and tell her it's time for her to put aside her yoga studies (although they have led to great spiritual growth), as well as her daydreams of becoming an actress, and get some sort of advanced degree, so she doesn't keep working as a waitress into a sad old age. I'm pushing for a two-year social worker degree, with which she could become a therapist helping other kids who have tragically lost their parents. She's reluctant to go back to school, but I think I'll win this one too (after all, I'm Mom!)