Saturday, May 9, 2009

When Did This Become My Holiday?

I sometimes feel like I'm the nanny. I know the picture above is evidence that I am not the nanny. But, I honestly don't walk around on a daily basis feeling like a capital M-O-M. A lot of times, I think I'm just the slightly older person in the house that is there to make sure everyone eats, sleeps, avoids serious injury, and doesn't sit in soiled diapers all day. I am also the social coordinator, playing games, providing entertainment, and even matchmaking. Sounds pretty mom-like, right? Sure. But, what I'm saying is that at 1 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon, I just feel like the gal who's hangin' out with two little kids.

For the first couple of years as a mother, I would just forget that Mother's Day was something I could benefit from. I remember sitting at a Mother's Day brunch with my in-laws when Marley was about two and just thinking the whole time, "Wow. This is so nice. Travis and his sister do such a great job honoring their mom." Then, someone handed me a gift and I actually sat there confused for about 15 seconds.

Part of it was insecurities about being a mom. Feeling like I had to live up to some imaginary standard of capital M-O-M perfection. Part of it was being scared that if I just dove right into this pool of mommy-ness, I'd lose forever the girl I'd come to like pretty well over the past 30 years. And, part of it was a strong aversion to the kitchen (which, I am happy to report, has waned).

This is the first year that I feel like this could actually be my holiday. Not a sea change, but a change nonetheless. Here's what I've discovered. Becoming a mom is not some overnight transformation -- at least it wasn't for me. I had a baby, not a lobotomy. I became a mother over time. It was and continues to be a culmination of the struggles and joys that have created my motherhood experience -- a patchwork of love, hope and fear.

I am a mom when I'm up all night with a bucket holding Marley's hair back as she vomits every hour from the wicked, evil stomach bug we had this past winter. I squeeze her tight and tell her I'm here and I know it hurts. I am a mom when I yell to Jack, "Come here, boy!" and he toddles into my arms as fast as his little, unsure legs can carry him, gleefully throwing his body against mine. I am a mom when I watch Marley on her scooter, proudly pushing along and hollering for me to "Watch me, Mama! Watch me!" I am a mom laying in the pullout hospital chair next to the metal crib with bars so high you'd think lions lived in it. Looking at my baby boy, hot with fever, pumping breast milk every two hours to feed him, and praying, praying, praying he is going to be OK.

And, today, I am most a mom when, in the middle of the night, I sneak out of my warm bed just to be near them. Marley, although it is now 80 degrees out, still insists on wearing her fuzzy, winter footsy pajamas. At some point during the night, she inevitably unzips her jammies and kicks her way out of the heat. Last night was no exception. I kiss her on the forehead, she snorts, and I sit next to her for I don't know how long, just staring. I finally pull myself away and move on.

Next door, Jack is asleep on his stomach. His long body is scrunched up with his knees tucked up hear his chest and his tush sticking straight up in the air. This is the way I find him most nights. He stirs when I walk in. His eyes -- lined with the most enviably long eyelashes -- flutter open. Uh-oh. He looks up at me with sleepy eyes and smiles. He softly cries out, "Mama," before drifting back to sleep. Safe.I leave his room.

I am so overwhelmed that I can't stop smiling even though I am alone and nothing is particularly funny or entertaining. My stomach and chest feel full. My chest even aches a bit. My arms tingle, right down to my fingers. I never knew life and love could feel this way. I sneak back into bed with Travis sleeping soundly. I am so tired. And...

I am a mom.


Jessica said...

GREAT post. I don't know if I'm just a big sap or if it's the pregnancy hormones kicking in but you almost had me in tears!

Ps-my son sleeps with his tush in the air too! :)

Megan at From a Sesame Seed said...

This was beautiful!! I can't wait to feel like a capital MOM.

Cristie said...

Uh, yeah. What she said.
Awesome post. Happy Mother's Day.

Anonymous said...

Yep. My wife felt the same way about the annual Mother's Day brunch her dad schedules for her mom - the purpose of the brunch is to honor her mom, not her, even though my wife gave birth to two kids, and is stepmother to my daughter.

Margy said...

So sweet!