Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dr. Strangemom Or...

How I Stopped Fighting and Learned to Love being a Mom

The first few days after my son was born were some of the hardest days I've ever lived through. I say that and I know that I had it easy compared to many women who don't have access to proper medical care and who don't have family willing to take them in and protect them. Sometime, I'll write the story of the day my milk came in, and some of the other things that were just mind-blowing to me, and that no matter how many books I read, I was still totally unprepared for. This is not the day for those stories.

Today is a story of how I came to fully choose motherhood.

There's a saying that a woman becomes a mother when she realizes she's pregnant. This is somewhat true. All my instincts turned on, certainly hormones are an amazing thing, and it's actually a little frightening how much of your animal nature comes to the fore-front when you're pregnant, giving birth, and first beginning to nurture the life you've brought forth, but the mind... it dragged behind.

There's a detour I could take here and maybe I'll write it out another time, but for now let's suffice it to say that I had a lot of grieving to do even as I began to celebrate the immense, gloriously exhausting, wonder, that bringing forth a new life to the world is. I read a lot of books, I read a lot of sites... I was still unprepared for just how different my life is now. My friends have all tried to give me days or nights off occasionally, and that's been great. But finally, I just accepted that I wasn't going to go out or make it to the show or whatever, and I mostly stopped looking at the sites and things that were the trappings of my old life. I gave up searching out, caring about really, the whole buffet of ways to use up one's free-time when you're a carefree adult-child. These things have almost stopped having meaning for me and some time back I really started enjoying my quiet little home life.

I recently read this article called Isn't having a baby SUPPOSED to cramp your style? and found it refreshing. Even some of us modern people, even some of the people I could probably have been counted among, my peers who are now having children, even some of them, are realizing that it is good, great perhaps, to cocoon, to nest with your child, to focus and draw in and take the time to really be a parent. It might just be important to let the world pass on without you for a while and then join back in a little at a time, when it does not draw you away from your calling as a parent. But, don't fake it. Children know when you're faking things. They're wiser than you know. They're so much more observant than we adults are... because it's all still new to them so everything is interesting.

I read this article the other day: Motherhood is a calling. Although I don't agree with it in full (the religious bent of it galls me), the author is a mother (we have something in common), and one of the better sections of it says: "Children know the difference between a mother who is saving face to a stranger and a mother who defends their life and their worth with her smile, her love, and her absolute loyalty." I am nothing without my son. The day begins and ends with him in my heart and mind, and life is good because he is in my life.

I am a mother, I work at a start-up, and I'm the only adult in our home the vast majority of the time. I love being who I am and doing what I do. Occasionally, my varying roles interfere with each other and I must choose. I choose my son first, the housework last. This is the way it must be.

It took a while to reconcile my old life and my new, to be at peace with the person I am, but it happened, over the long nights sitting up while my son slept in our room, over the thousands of diapers, spit ups, food fights, baths and meals, over the hundreds of compromises and losses and acceptances, the thousands of choices, and the retellings of old stories to renew my mind and change the feelings they bring up. Somewhere during all of that, I stopped caring about the world passing me by and I started enjoying the world where I am and the journey I'm on.

I'm not just a girl anymore. I am Mommy, Mom, Mother. Who would ever think that someone so small, could change anyone so profoundly?

I actually choose not to fill up all my time running from activity to activity anymore. It's a beautiful thing to have solitary downtime. I firmly believe that it will make me a better mother and a better person. Being lonely happens when solitude is forced upon you. Being alone, choosing to be alone, and being able to take pleasure in your own company, is a marvelous thing. I am still evolving, but I know who I love... and I know who I am and I'm happy about who I am becoming.

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