I remember telling myself that I didn't need anything at the giant BORDERS bookstore liquidation sale, but I went in anyway. As I thumbed through this above book in the store (while resting it upon my 9 mon. pregnant belly) numerous passages struck me and I ended up buying it. I really don't have very many books on parenting (I think I have two- one on potty training and another on how to raise self-reliant children....same things, right?) but none on motherhood. I know there's lots of them out there but after buying out pretty much the ENTIRE pregnancy section while pregnant with my first, I learned that all of those opinions and advice can become overwhelming quick. What I like so much about this book is that it's more of a round table of thoughts and confessions amongst other current parents.
It's a book that made me laugh, made me think, made me happy that somebody else out there found these parenting topics important enough to research and write about. I also shared a few parts with my husband and he too was impressed with how succinctly they were able to capture the complexities of parenting in addition to marriage and personal identity. I read it in a weekend and immediately felt refreshed afterwards (maybe part of that was due to starting and finishing something!).
Over the past few days I've been thinking about what I thought motherhood was before I had kids as well as the many different roles women take on. I realized that both those expectations of ourselves as mothers and our actual selves as mothers are all achieved through perspective. Sometimes unknowingly we live through the perspective of who we think others want us to be. Other times we live through our own, but still feel defeated. Recently (after the birth of my second) I made the decision to really take a hold of my own life perspective and treat it as a very conscious choice. Every day.
With all of the changes going on over the past couple of months, I figured now would be good to write them all down and take stock of what was then and what's now because somehow even a woman with the best of memories enters into that motherhood fog where things just get forgotten. As my lovely mother of three says- she's completely out of it when it comes to popular music/moives/entertainment of the 80's (our birthdays are '79, '81, '83). We tell her it's okay, she really didn't miss out on much!
My Life Now
Now, I'm no longer pregnant. Time while pregnant is like something else. It's like after month 8 you turn into a bubble (literally) that bobs around indefinitely waiting to be popped. You feel clumsy, on edge, and impatient because you know all that's expected from you in labor and what arrangements are all hinging on those infamous words..."she's gone into labor!" I can't tell you how many times I found myself studying calendars and counting days trying to find meaning or get a certain feeling about a particular day. Even though I promised myself I wouldn't get worried about totally random things the second time around, I did. Even though I didn't want each day past our due date (and even a few before) to take control over me, they were. Even though I wanted to stay my cool, calm, and collected self, pressure was mounting (literally) and I needed relief. Fast forward to 2 months later and I again love the feeling of an unexpected surprise, the promise of something wonderful to come, the joy of a new life about to be born. Yes, I also love the feeling of mobility and being able to sleep on my tummy again, but it's all in the perspective.
Now it feels completely normal to think of both children's needs at the same time. I don't know if this makes me a superwoman or bi-polar, but I know I am needed a lot and it's oddly freeing. Freeing because I know I simply cannot do one other thing at that moment other than to answer to their urgent needs, so in a blink of an eye, irrelevant happenings are blocked out and I am suddenly very present. I've always had a hard time doing one thing at a time, so I guess it makes sense that I now find doing two things at once both energizing and simplifying.
The birth of my first was deeply satisfying. I couldn't believe something that my husband and I created was now alive and well in my arms. I will forever remember that awe-struck feeling of "no way, we have a child!" Our first child has brought me confidence in ways I never knew I needed which have strengthened me to be the kind of mother I'm proud to be.
The birth of my second was familiar and quick...like a pow of love right to my heart. I knew instantly that he was meant to be and will never forget that first look he gave me...calmness and strength. I still found/find myself asking questions about the best ways to care for them, but no longer allow myself to compare my children to others and will NEVER apologize for their needs. They are who they are right now and thankfully I GET to be a part of every minute of it.
My Life Now Knowing
Admittedly I had expectations of myself as a mom before I had kids, but I now realize that beyond those, I never really thought about motherhood was really like. I think that's because I always just assumed it would be a good fit for me since I've always loved being around kids. I find it both interesting and revealing how leading with my heart has resulted in such a wonderful outcome, but it did take some time for me to sort out what I really wanted to take away from this whole experience.
I now know the strains of the job are constant, but I love how the whole WORLD is different to me now. I'm not only taking part in raising children, but enriching our family, challenging myself, and sharing and connecting with other parents. Every day is different, but even on those days when I barely have time to shower (or don't get a shower at all), I simply look into the bright blue eyes of my two beautiful sons and see something so stellar. So magnificent. So wise. And the cool thing is that this job just keeps getting better and better.
My goal isn't to be the best mom. My goals are to be satisfied and happy with myself each day, a connected partner to my husband, a present and strong mom to our kids, and a caring and supportive family member. Now, that's one healthy perspective and if it took this book for me to realize that, then so be it!