Dellabee and Me

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Archive for the month “April, 2013”

Celebrating Motherhood

This is an old post from my Myspace blog (saywhat?) that was featured in True North Parenting back in 2008.

I have been dabbling in the writing field and have had one article published in a local parenting magazine here in Bend. The same magazine is accepting submissions for their next 2 issues; the theme of each is “celebrating motherhood” and “celebrating fatherhood.” And I feel really compelled to submit something for this.

But I realize that I am unsure how to celebrate motherhood. Although I love my kids, I often feel like I am missing out on something other mothers know about. I do not wake up every morning reveling in the minute details of my parenting life. In fact, I often wake up wanting to sleep just a little bit longer. I tiptoe around the house hoping to keep it just me as long as possible, hoping to rediscover that part of myself I knew before I grew a few people in my womb.

The thing about motherhood is it is not finite, not measurable, not a “phase.” And that may be what I struggle with – because it is a permanent shift in my reality. This is not something I am dabbling in, like waiting tables or dating seriously disturbed men. This is not a persona I am assuming but instead a new identity.

How can I still be who I was before I had children, if becoming a mother has changed nearly everything about that person? And why am I fighting so hard to keep her around when it is clear that she isn’t even here anymore?

I have never been great at good-byes. I grieved for weeks when I traded a stuffed horse to a neighbor girl, even though the Smurf I got in return was a far better deal. I hate to see the old me go, not just the me who was 40 pounds lighter with fewer stretch marks and no life insurance, but the me who could hold conversations with strangers about world issues, the me who decided at 27 to get a Master’s degree in a full-time program while also working full-time.

If that me is gone, who is this in her place? This cranky woman who gets a shower every other day and is burdened with the hair to show it. This lonely gal who is so afraid of meeting other moms because they might not like her, or she might say the wrong thing and offend someone, or she might see her mothering mistakes magnified in the eyes of those who limit television and only feed their offspring organic food from local farms. This confused lady who feels conflicting emotions about her role all the time.

Maybe that is why I am struggling to “celebrate motherhood”, because in doing so I am also celebrating the end of all that I knew to be true about myself and the world around me. Becoming a mother meant I was willing to submerge myself in the cold, unfamiliar waters of putting myself second to meet all the needs of someone else – and the risks involved in growing a human are great. I let go of all my comfortable knowledge about how things should be, and CHOSE to be responsible for a baby (now 2 babies) with no way of knowing the outcome.  More often than not I totally have no idea what I am supposed to be doing, and not having rules to follow or parameters around me makes me feel vulnerable and, yes, incompetent.  It is this incompetence that leads to my ambivalence, and my longing for my old life. Because then I was only responsible for me and I was able to clearly measure how well I was doing at living my life, and there was so much less at stake if I failed.

Perhaps that is what should be celebrated then? Not motherhood itself, but the courage it takes to throw off the towel of your old self and jump face first into that crazy abyss where there are no guides, where the rewards are small and the risks great, where fear often supersedes joy – but that joy is better than anything I knew in my child-free days before I could add “mother” to my resume.

For me, motherhood is not rainbow-filled days of discovery and Zen-like contentment.  Motherhood is getting up in the middle of the night for the 5th time because my little boy has an earache and the heating pad keeps shutting itself off, and I am tired and frustrated with the crying and feeling powerless because it is 4am on a Sunday and there is nothing else I can do to make him feel better, but I keep trying and keep getting up hour after hour.  The old me would keep sleeping. Motherhood is saying “no” and listening to crying and whining even though it would be so much easier and quieter to say yes. Motherhood is listening to the same joke for 20 minutes and laughing at the punch line each time because I hate to see his little face fall in disappointment. Motherhood is looking at this body in disgust while also marveling at its ability to reproduce and lactate and hold a clingy 20-pounder for hours on end.

Motherhood is my life now. And it is terrifying and desperate and exciting and dull. And I understand right now as I write this that I will never be the old me again, and I am okay with that. The old me did not know my children, or the way our hearts are intertwined like the roots of a tree. The old me did not see the chubby cheeks under those bright blue eyes smiling up at the new mommy me. The old me did not feel those kicks and rolls from within that were but a small sign of the amount of activity to come. The old me could not know and live with the fear of something, anything, happening to one of my babies, but the new me knows this fear and accepts it as a part of the reality of motherhood.

I do not know if all mothers feel the way I do. But I do know that we all face the same decisions, fears, and losses. We all give up some part of who we are to make room for our kids in our lives. We do this because it is the heart of motherhood, not a conscious choice but a shift in what we thought was important to make room for something bigger than ourselves. This willingness, this sacrifice, is what we can and should celebrate.

Although it was my choice, my children have defined me as a mother. Without them I would not be who I am today. A woman who loves her kids and tries to do her best. A chick who knows she is not perfect and accepts that she is going to make mistakes. A gal who gets frustrated and burned out with the daily grind of parenting a toddler and a preschooler, yet still laughs at her little boy’s stories and her baby’s temper. A mother with a full heart.

 

Random Things I Am Going to Tell You

So, we bought a house. It is nice, big, on over 7 acres, and covered heavily in wallpaper.

In case you didn’t know this, moving sucks. And this was my 8th move in nearly 9 years so I should be either immune to its suckness or really good at it, but I am neither. The packing up of one place in order to shuffle it over to another place and unpack it is about as fun as typing with wet nail polish – messy and frustrating. This move was the 2nd hardest one I have ever done, coming in second to the 6-day, cross-country move we did with a 2 and 4 year-old a few years back.

My new house is in a semi-unpacked state right now. We are unpacked enough to function kinda normally (ie. the beds have sheets on them), but there are boxes and bulging garbage bags littering every room. It’s a slice of chaos.

After this move, I learned that the secret to producing stink-free laundry in my front loader is vinegar. FYI, I’ve had that washer for 5 years. That is 5 years of random, inexplicably smelly clean clothes. Thank god for google, and all those earthy people out there.

I’ve decided that I hate anyone who says “hate is a really strong word” when I say that I hate something. I suspect that the same people probably regularly use words like “amazing,” “incredible,” and “fabulous” to describe salad dressing or a new bathrobe.

I think I am becoming jaded. We went to a mall and there was a goose stupidly standing in the middle of the parking lot. Ella and I wanted to rescue him, of course, but as you may know you can’t really do anything with a goose without his permission, so we gave up and headed toward the entrance. I turned before we passed through the doors to check on the goose and saw 2 boys, maybe late teens/early 20s, walking toward the goose with what I took to be menacing looks on their faces. I stood a little longer to see what they would do, and was pleasantly surprised to see them walk by the goose, pause and say something, laugh, then continue on. Then I realized how little hope I have for the world, because I really believed that they were going to attack and destroy the goose. This is sad, isn’t it?

I am not a smiler. Please don’t think this means I am unhappy, angry, suicidal, or surly. It only means that I am thinking about something and not aware that you are watching me, because if I know someone is watching me I try to at least not frown. Interpret as you will, of course. Some of us walk around with gigantic grins plastered across our gob holes, and I say rock on if that is you. I will be over here, not smiling but not frowning and remembering how often this was a problem for me when I worked at McDonald’s (and then I will be frowning at the memory). If you see someone not smiling, and you feel compelled to comment on it by saying something like “you okay?” or “why so serious?” or, my least favorite, “come on, smile!! It can’t be that bad!”, I would like for you to consider the possibility that that person has just received terrible news, or can’t find their dog, or maybe they are trying not to shit their pants. Asking them to smile seems kinda selfish, doesn’t it?

Finally, this is a public service announcement. Ladies, you can and should trim your nose hairs.

I Already Forgot What I was Going to Call This

The youngest child lost her first tooth on Friday. And then the tooth was promptly lost in the midst of packing and moving. And then the tooth was forgotten about until Monday, when I suggested that she write a note for the Tooth Fairy explaining what had happened and then leave the note under her pillow.

I hit the ATM on the way home from work Monday afternoon, but I couldn’t get anything smaller than a $20. So I took it, figuring I’d stop at the gas station or something just to break it.

Between the bank and my house, which is about a 4 minute drive, I forgot to stop at the gas station.

So, that night after Ella wrote her note, I remembered that I only had a $20. Shit. There was no way I was heading out at 9pm – here is your evidence of my commitment to good parenting, if it is inconvenient for me it isn’t happening.

I decided, after she fell asleep, to go slip the $20 under her pillow. I rationalized that: a. this was her first lost tooth b. this was our last first lost tooth and c. we had forgotten about this for 3 whole days. A $20 seemed reasonable after all.

Only when I went in to her room I could not locate the note. Then I panicked because I had only told her to write it, I never verified that she had done it. What if she hadn’t? Would it blow the whole premise of the Tooth Fairy if she just randomly left the money with no note explaining the lack of a tooth? So I came back out and asked my husband if he had seen the note, and he hadn’t.

Then I forgot about it again. I am a terrible parent.

Tuesday morning, my husband said that he had spotted the note somewhere on her bed. I grabbed the $20 and blasted it with some gold glitter (to make it “fairy” like) and headed to her room. But she met me halfway, clutching the note in her hand with a dejected look on her face.

“I guess she didn’t come,” she said plaintively.

“Wait, where did you look?” I replied, taking the note from her and cupping the money in my hand behind it. She walked back to her bed, where I began flinging pillows around until I exclaimed “Oh, here it is, I think I found something, is this…okay, here is something” and simultaneously wedged the glittery money between her mattress and headboard. She pounced on it and happily purred about how she now had more money than her brother.

I had to take a picture of the gap between her teeth so I could post it on Facebook for my parents to see. Then she insisted that I take another picture of her posing with the glitterfied $20, which I did.

So, when you see the picture on Facebook of my gap-toothed daughter smiling next to a golden $20, please know that I am not one of those overindulgent parents who really thinks a tooth is worth $20. Hell no. I’m just the slacker mom who forgot to get change after forgetting about the tooth for 4 nights in a row.

 

 

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