Friday, May 11, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Join me in posting about What Makes You a Mother today. All posts (just email your link here) will be rounded-up and entered to win a prize thanks to Light Iris and Parent Bloggers Network. "I knew I was a mother when..." I don't know that I've ever had an a-ha moment, where I've felt that by something I've done, or experienced, it was the pivotal moment that made me feel quintessentially a mom.I think I'm more defined by the things I don't do that make me a mom. At least, that was the case with my first born, and she is the one who broke the seal, so to speak. I remember after Maddie was born, I felt kind of like when you're first married and you look at your boyfriend and then call him "husband" out loud and you can't do it without snickering, because it just seems so absurd. So grown-up. That was how it was with Maddie. I was so young and excited, yet filled with a silent terror that I would screw it all up. Mom? I hadn't yet mastered adult. I was screwed. I had no map to guide me as a parent, no inner voice to tell me where to go and no experiences to draw upon that would satisfy my daughter's needs as a person. I had no idea how I was going to mother her.The first night she came home, I sat on our blue family room sofa (something that now, twelve years later, makes me cringe for countless aesthetic reasons but oh, Jesus, filled me with such pride at the time) and held her until morning. I sat in the quiet, wondering how I got from dorms, apartments, and the single life to a mortgage, marriage, and holding someone who might hate me or love me, depending on how I did my job. I had never been so frightened.I didn't stop nursing even though it hurt like a mother fucker. It was like needles clamping down on my breast, and I cracked so badly that I later ended up with a pretty scary (yet predictable; experienced women would have been able to avoid it) case of mastitis that landed me in the hospital.I didn't roll over and go back to sleep when she needed me. In fact, in my ignorance, I didn't wake my husband to get her for me. Not once. I believed the road ahead of me as a stay at home mom was going to be easy, that I would be constantly justifying my decision to play at home with our children. I believed it would have been wrong to wake him up, since he had to "work" in the morning and I didn't (this causes me almost physical pain to write that).I stopped buying things for myself. Period. We had overbought in a nice neighborhood, and while I never regret living there, it was a huge financial mistake. I wore my husband's shirts, old leggings, and clothes from my old life. When relatives gave me money, I would run to Nordstrom and buy ridiculously extravagant outfits for my little girl. I have pictures of Maddie and Chloe wearing, please hold the vomit, Baby Christian Dior. I was an idiot. Even now, with everything so different, I buy at Target, and I try to buy things that are slightly too big.I stopped setting boundaries for myself. I became an extension of my daughter; never saying no or yelling, or letting her be unhappy for more than a few moments. By doing that, I was convinced I would be dooming her for a destiny of therapy bills, teen pregnancy, and community college. I stopped working out, going out, and carving time for myself. I thought this was what good mommies did. I have this memory of my neighbor, Debbie, coming over on a Saturday afternoon to see if I wanted to go with her to the movies (dating myself here to say it was The First Wives Club). I swear to Jesus I went in the house and asked my husband if that was okay. He hemmed and hawed, but then I got to go (you know, don't think he was an ass for this. I was the one who relinquished my power).I stopped worrying about myself and instead watched my heart tear out of my body and go walking around in my little girl. I now have four hearts that exist outside of myself, but the first time it's astounding to realize you care about someone else more than you.I've changed so much over the years, and over the course of four kids. But my first experiences with motherhood, good, bad, and stupid are what makes me a mom today. It's always a bit of uncharted territory with your oldest, no matter how many kids you have. But that's why they get extra allowance.Have a fantastic Mother's Day, and now I'm off to the gym for a workout while my boys languish in the nursery, in their cheap t-shirts (hey, mommy needs some Kate Spade).