Growing up, I watched my mother play the role of mom to every person to ever cross our doorway. Whether they were a friend to me or my brother, a buddy of my dads, or even one of his buddy’s girlfriends, I watched her mother each and every one of them.
She would sit and listen, cook, and offer her perspective. She would also read their Tarot cards. I swear that the majority of my friends liked my mom better than me, and it’s actually something that played a roll in who I am today.
I slightly resented that my mom was usually too busy being there for her friends in need. It wasn’t easy making room for all of those extra “kids.” From all of that, I learned to keep my problems to myself. I watched her be there for people who didn’t typically return the favor, and I had no clue that it would be a role I would take on.
Momma Jenn at Your Service
Since I was a teenager, I was the mom of the group. If there was a heartbreak, I nursed it. If there were choices, I helped decide. I even read cards for some of my friends just like my mom. I had a group of guy friends that I played mom to, and it made me feel loved and apart of a family.
In our teens and early twenties, we would get together and have little parties, play pool, or go mudding and just enjoy the outdoors. I was the one who listened to the guys about their girl problems. I would cook everyone breakfast and supply the hangover food. I made sure they didn’t anything too stupid. I was Momma Jenn.
Even When I Didn’t Want to
Once, my buddy had this very serious girlfriend who hated my guts. She tortured me in school. She even bullied me out of senior prom by saying I didn’t belong there because I was blind and I “probably couldn’t see to dance anyway.” She always found ways to put me down, and she was relentless. Her boyfriend was like my little brother, so I grit my teeth.
We all went dirt biking once, and I had this mini bike I would ride around while everyone went on the big hills and harder tracks. My buddy got his girlfriend a dirt bike that was just too much for a new rider to handle. She took off and wrecked into a tree, but all of the guys were on the track already. This girl was beyond cruel to me, but there I was, cleaning her split open leg- and I don’t do well with blood. It was a gory mess, but I was there for her.
I was mothering this demon girl. I gave her water and kept her awake and talking until we could get her to the hospital, and I even went with to make sure she was okay. The mom in me couldn’t leave that horrendous girl alone in that situation.
I didn’t just mother the people who were my friends. I listened to pretty much everyone’s problems. It was hard though, because when I needed someone, they weren’t there in the same ways. They didn’t notice my eating disorder until it was too late. They didn’t see the toxic relationships I found myself in. It really felt like they didn’t love me the way I did them. It wasn’t easy.
Eventually, I stopped reading their cards, because I refused to give away my positive energy for people who were only there for me on the surface. I still cared about them, but I slowly started pulling back.
From being friends to, not friends with some of the people who’ve come in and out of my life, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’m actually genuinely grateful for all of those assholes, whether we speak now or not. I didn’t really think about wanting to be a mom. Kids scared the crap out of me, but taking care of people all of those years made me want to continue caring and putting my love into others.
As I got older, I would also care for my roommates’ and friends’ pets. I would puppy sit and potty train this bundle of cats and dogs. I would find little ways to mother whatever or whomever I could. It was incredibly lonely sometimes, but it made me feel like I was good at something. It was a purpose I really enjoyed.
Once I became a fur mom of my own, I started getting baby fever. It started to sink in that being a mom of my own kids was an option, and I wanted it to be real. When my husband and I decided we really did want a family, we made one.
Babies Change You
We went through 3 pregnancies and 2 births. I had a miscarriage that shook me to my core. I don’t talk about it often and still don’t, and it really changed me. I never felt so alone as I did in that bloody moment.
When I became pregnant with my oldest, I changed even more. I was guarded about who I let around. I wasn’t as open to listening to everyone or mothering them. I needed to mother myself and my growing baby. After he was born, most of my friends started seeing us less and less- partially because we weren’t “fun” anymore, and partially because I stopped caring so much about trying to be there for others who couldn’t reciprocate. I wasn’t bitter or anything. I just had my own family to take care of, and for once, that also included myself.
The differences between me and my mom are that I pushed a lot of people out of my life, and she kept being their mom. I just didn’t have that kind of energy. I always put others first, but becoming a mom to my babies made me want to change my priorities and who I gave my love to.
When my daughter was born, it was extremely rough. We both almost didn’t make it, and when we got home, I took a very clear notice of who was there. The few who helped me through that trauma were the ones I promised I would still care for. I would still listen to them and play that mom role if they needed. I honestly hope for the best from everyone from my past friendships, but I couldn’t keep worrying and caring for them the same.
Grateful but Different
I’m so grateful for the people who have been in and out of my life, whether they were positive or negative. I learned who I am and what I’m capable of because of being the mom of the group. I learned which types of people deserve my time and energy. It taught me a lot about self-care, and for that, I’m grateful.
Of course cooking hungover man-children breakfasts and listening to them rant about life is different than being a mom to your kids, but it also prepared me for the ups and downs. It showed me a sliver of what I am capable of.
Now, a lot of people who know me will tell you that I’m cold or say things like, “don’t f**k with Jenni,” because I developed this hardness. I became fierce with my feelings and guarded my love. I simply don’t allow others to walk on me anymore.
I’m not actually as scary or cold as they make me out to be. They just don’t know the other side, because I don’t let them. Now that my kids are in my life, I just cast out the people who are negative. I don’t have time for confrontation, let alone any drama.
I didn’t just learn to walk away from certain crap, I also learned compassion and to not judge. Playing a mom role to others opened my eyes to all walks of life, and I was able to see a lot of variety in terms of struggles. It helped me understand others. While it gave me all those wonderful things, I’m most grateful for learning to love myself.
Self-Care and Being a Mom
I never cared about myself the way I do now. I’m finally kind to my body and mind, and I owe that to motherhood. I took care of others for so long, and I didn’t take very good care of myself. Having my own kids, showed me that I couldn’t continue being a good mom without caring for myself. It’s probably my favorite lesson of motherhood.
Being the mom of the group taught me strength in those lonely moments. It really helped make me who I am today, the good and the bad. I’m still learning and figuring out motherhood, because there are constantly new challenges. It’s been a journey, that’s for sure.
I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day!