As a young girl, I gave elaborate responses when asked what I aspired to be when I grew up. They really wanted to know what I wanted to DO when I grow up. A doctor. A lawyer. A journalist. Maybe a police officer. A business owner. We were to aim high and reach for the stars. Never, not once, not ever did anyone ever suggest that I might one day…when I grew up…want to be a Mommy. If I am honest, even deep into my first pregnancy, I hadn’t fully conceptualized the reality of being a mother.
Sitting here, opening my heart to this reality, I am overwhelmed. I push up against raw emotions: pure and powerful. Motherhood is this magic thing. I can’t say or know if fatherhood offers men a similar experience. I certainly hope so…..
On the eve of February 20th, I anticipate the birthday of my oldest son. But in addition to HIS birthday…February 20th marks the absolute pinnacle of my life, an event so fundamentally transformative words fail miserably to convey the awesomeness. February is the day I became a mother.
I succeeded in growing another human being inside of me. Just letting my mind drift into the absurdity of that is breathtaking. Literally, I have to voluntarily and intentionally make myself breathe. It almost escapes my ability to comprehend…..another person was once inside me: fingers and hiccups and red fuzzy hair. In less than half a day, with the help of pitocin and forceps…..he was OUTSIDE of me. I struggle wrapping my brain around that. It was joyous but simultaneously sad because he was no longer dependent on me, not really. And life out here in this world of breathing gets risky.
But he was a glorious baby, a glorious creation. He still is. When he was a baby, he fussed until you wrapped him up like a burritos in a blanket. He calmed down if you wrapped him tight and kept him from flailing. I don’t think that part of his personality has changed except the “wrapping” is an emotional not a physical process. And just like those first 10 days of his life when I was sleep deprived, neurotic and petrified that would be the world’s worst mother, when I seemed to be failing at the most basic of motherly responsibilities – breast feeding – if was the cooperation between my baby and I. We together figured it out.
We’re still figuring it out. And just like that morning when I finally nursed my newborn sitting in the dining room of our little Cracker house, him tucked under my arm like a football, I admit I am still trying to figure it out. I don’t have all the answers because I don’t even know all the questions. But I promise him that I will be as determined as I was the first week of his life to figure it out and do what is best for him.
I quietly and humbly celebrate the blessing granted me 15 years ago when the child I grew inside me finally was born into this world. I became a mother. I love being a mother. I will forever endeavor to keep at it…..for him and for myself. This day (and the day of his younger brother’s birth) are my real mother’s day celebrations albeit private and reverential.