Last night, a memory came to mind, and it was vivid as the day it happened. It was the moment I asked my mom if I could start shaving my legs.
I don’t know how or why this memory came to mind, but I can remember where we were in the house, the time of day, the season and the look on my mother’s face. She was surprised, not shocked, but perplexed. She was hesitant. She understood and reluctantly gave her permission.
It was more than just this memory that made me ponder about the who, what, where, when and why of it all. It was the look on my mom’s face.
She didn’t know it was coming. I blindsided her with this simple yet coming-of-age question. I can only imagine she knew this would happen sooner or later, but she didn’t know when.
I thought about how I might handle this situation with my daughters when they starts to think about these moments in life, and I thought to myself, “I could just find a mom blog or search for polls on what is happening now in real-time with girls on this topic.” I won’t be blindsided. I can be ahead of the game.
And then I thought how horrible that would be.
In a time before search engines and mom blogs, our moms called each other, visited over coffee and connected in a slightly different way in regards to motherhood. Answers didn’t come easy. Answers came from their experiences or what friends and family told them firsthand. A limited but trusted circle of confidants. When I surprised my mom, she couldn’t take the question to Twitter or post a crazy caption on Instagram. She internalized it at that very moment … and probably shared it with co-workers the next day at work. Personal. Innocent. Although outside opinion could still creep in from television, magazines and her friendships, she was on her own, mothering the best she could.
My first impulse when things get a little out of control is to search online. Yes, I still call on my mom for quite a bit, but my immediate thought is … but I want to know what moms are doing right now.
During the digital age, we still have our intimate, trusted circles, but they have expanded. They include our nearest and dearest as well as the group of moms that bond over Instagram chats and blog comments. Even though I will be able to have more options for motherly consultation, one thing will stay the same: moms will forever be surprised by kids. We can’t predict when or what or how a question will come about … but we will always possess the look of surprise, those moments where we feel completely blindsided. And that, for me, is the innocence of motherhood … and I’m learning to embrace it.