Oh My.You can recognize a picture taken by a man by those yellow markings at the bottom.
You know, in the spirit of survivalism, I think my brain erased 80% of the memories from the first 5 years of motherhood.
Mateo turned 10 yesterday.
And so did my motherhood, which is both shocking, impressive, humbling and awe-inspiring that we are all standing, alive and can actively enjoy each other’s presence. Most of the time, unless anybody is sick, in which case, get away from me and speak not.
How did I get here? What voice elected to say “SURE, WHY NOT !!!”when all my brain was saying was NO NO NO NO NO SHIT NO NO NO NO NO SHIT FUCK NO NO NO NO NO NO. I mean, let’s be honest here: I had big plans, none of them included babies, most of them included heels, thrift shops and cigarettes. Not one baby. Not even three.
But while my brain spewed out profanities, my heart listened to the man next to me, calmly saying that in spite of only knowing each other for a few months (more than three, less than 6) we could do this, and do it well. My mother concurred this opinion and she leapt for joy as I sat pondering the loss of my cigarettes and my hipster clothes.
I can’t just fast forward ten years, but I will. Because my story is the same story as yours, and your mother’s and your neighbour’s. It’s the communal experience of motherhood- one that reveals both a tremendous gain and gut wrenching loss. It’s an experience of beginner-hood and extreme (catch word warning…) vulnerability, a journey of self-discovery and responsibility. My story is not a remarkable one, but it is my own.
Oh wait, and there’s a baby on the other side too!!
One that cries and sleeps and eats (sometimes), barfs up breast milk that is SURPRISINGLY difficult to produce for some of us, and then grows up into a boy who wears costumes, who fiercely defends the rights of animals and who is terrified of Target.
There is a small adult on the other end of my journey and he turned 10. He has dandruff and doesn’t really know how to blow his nose properly, but he has a ukelele now and can build a fire.
I am forever changed, but that pales in comparison to what was created in the ashes. A person. With a will, and a choice to do good or not. To cry or laugh and I had a small part to play in that, but the real story hasn’t yet unfolded
Too much time is spent thinking about which events will mark him (I remember my 10th birthday present, the stylish jean jacket), which events will make him smile or which ones will make him cry. What are the things that we’ve chosen, as parents, that will make him want to defy with his greatest passion (for me, it was to eat pasta AS A FULL MEAL AND NOT A SIDE DISH GOD DAMN IT) or want to replicate in his own life.
The days are long yet the years are short.
But you still complain that the days are impossibly long, and you fear that you will never get through it.
What makes a good mother? Well I guess that depends on what you mean by ‘good’ and ‘mother’. To some, good means nice, and mother means loving. While that was not exactly my own experience, I consider my mother pretty great, all things considering. In my own life, I realize that I am not a good mother or bad mother, I am just a mother. One that has loving moments, and angry moments, a person who has doubts and moments of fierce conviction (THEY WILL LEARN PIANO) who happens to be responsible for three pre-adults.
I recoil when I think of myself as a new mother, all my opinions and beliefs, all concealing the one real truth; that I knew absolutely nothing. In 10 years, I will look back on this benchmark and feel exactly the same way. “we were so young, knew so little, didn’t realize what we had” and will immediately want to recoil.
I know in my bones when the good mother moments are, and when they are not. And I also know that what I have is a privilege and not a right. And in these benchmark moments, I get to see the magnitude of it all, and I can finally see how short the years truly are.
Here’s to another 10 years of motherhood and to a little boy grows towards being so much more than just my son. My motherhood story will be a tiny fragment of his life, when his will have been the pivotal plot twist in my most unique, yet un-remarkable experience.