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Being Mommy

May 11, 2015

As our daughter’s third birthday approaches I find myself reflecting on how much my life has transformed since we brought her home from the hospital and became a family together.

I’ve been composing this in my head for the last month and it’s taken me over a week of short, broken writing sessions to translate those  musings, revelations and frustrations into a more sharable format so I apologize in advance if anything comes across as borderline incoherent :) 

Being Mommy is discovering that my uterus, for all the pain and disgustingness it causes me is actually my favorite body part.

I never gave having a favorite body part much thought before our daughter was born. My body just existed and I maintained a general, all around feeling of loathing for it as many women do.

Then recently I asked myself the question because I’d never answered it before and I considered that before she was born the answer would have been my cleavage because let’s face it, cleavage is magical. But the longer I thought about it, the bigger picture gained clarity and I came to the conclusion that actually my uterus is pretty amazing.

Periods are gross and sore but they’re also sort of awesome when you think about them from a physiological perspective.  Without my healthy, functional uterus I wouldn’t have been able to house the cluster of cells that became a person. I also wouldn’t have been able to have the experience of holding her safe inside of me for 9 months, which was no picnic but it is an experience I am very grateful to have had.

Being Mommy is putting her needs before my own, always.

I am painfully aware of how cliché this statement appears, however it’s true and constantly putting someone else first in all things takes its toll. The word “needs” doesn’t just cover cleaning and feeding either, it covers financial, physical, mental, social and emotional. It’s a lot of really REALLY hard, exhausting work being a parent and though the rewards are vast, it’s not all happy facebook photos or adorable developmental triumphs and blunders.

There is a lot of holding my bladder to the point of bursting and cuddling while we’re both covered in vomit, or urine (not mine). There is also plenty of social isolation, frustration and new unexpected challenges to be faced every single day.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world but I also think it’s important to acknowledge that being Mommy is hard work for a number of reasons and it’s a full time job where breaks aren’t guaranteed.

Being  Mommy is falling in love with my husband all over again.

Any previous ideas I ever had of what a wonderful father would be like have been massively surpassed and reconstructed by the man I married. Our baby girl had him wrapped around all of her little fingers and toes the moment they laid eyes on one another. He is involved in every aspect of her life, he is attentive, affectionate, and nurturing. They have an incredible bond. This is something I never had with my father and it is amazing to see. I am incredibly grateful that this beautiful relationship between them exists and that it’s something I am part of.  I can’t help myself loving him more every day for being Daddy.

Being Mommy is trying to make up for all of my own parent’s shortcomings.  

I had a pretty rough time growing up with a mostly absent father and a mentally ill mother.

As an adult I can’t help myself dwelling on the bad choices they made to make me feel unwanted or unsafe but I try to  use their shortcomings as a basis for my own parenting. There isn’t anything that I can do about the past except learn from it, and I know in my heart that there will be things our daughter remembers from her childhood that maybe she would have liked handled differently but I do my best to make sure the happy memories and positive experiences are the dominant ones that she takes with her on her own journey through life.

Being Mommy is watching way too much children’s TV.

If you watch enough children’s programming you are likely to start over analyzing everything because your adult brain is not used to taking everything at face value. So I do this and then I tell my husband about my anger or theories even though I know it doesn’t actually matter, because I HAVE to tell someone. (poor guy)

My biggest pet peeve is when shows are redubbed or redone (ex: Bubble guppies & Blues Clues) just to change the accent between American and UK audiences. It’s often done very badly and quite obviously on a much lower budget so by changing the voices and the script they bring the overall quality of the program down for absolutely no legitimate reason.

When I’m not being all annoyed with that, I find myself looking deeper into the inner workings of shows like Peppa pig. For example… Peppa pig is a nasty little piece of work and I’m pretty sure that her peers generally avoid her for a number of reasons that I really shouldn’t elaborate on.

I’ve also seen Disney’s animated Robin Hood about 100 times. There is a family of rabbits in this movie… the mother has a litter of four or five bunnies in the background and then there are three older siblings who are more involved in the story. How cute, how harmless right? But no… where are the rest of them? Rabbits have lots of bunnies… why are there only three individual survivors remaining from three previous litters? WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE BUNNIES???

Does this have anything to do with all of their carnivorous neighbours? How dark… how sad…

I could write a book filled with this crap.

Being Mommy is cutting other parents some slack.

I’d like to say that I never judge other people but I’ve got to be honest… I do (in my head), probably as much as anyone else does, and being  a mother has helped me a lot in being able to put myself in someone else’s shoes to assist in countering those thoughts.

It is so easy to be a judgemental toad when it comes to parenting, especially before you have a child of your own or before you encounter the exact scenario with your own offspring that you are witnessing and passing judgement on regarding a stranger and their offspring.

I now see other parents in a different light than I did before, especially when out in public. It’s true that some people just allow their children to be destructive, loud little monsters but more often than not, the parents are just exhausted, or the child has something else going on that is absolutely none of my business ranging from a developmental disability to a sore tummy.

So I remind myself to appreciate other parents for their strengths and I take comfort in the commissary of our shared challenges.

Being Mommy is allowing myself to be fixated on another human’s bathroom habits and thinking nothing of discussing those habits at length with anyone who will listen.

Sometimes I have to stop myself from discussing poop freely like anyone else besides me and my husband care about the consistency, frequency and briberies which contribute to potty time on any given day.

I won’t go into too much detail here, but I will say that nothing ignites or motivates an obsession quite like seeing your child in pain and then doing everything in your power to stop it from happening again… we had quite a fiasco at the beginning of the year… but really, it is taking some restraint on my part to not tell you all about it.

Being Mommy is knowing that any moments stolen for myself will result in guilt and mess,  and understanding that without moments stolen for myself Mommy could very well reduce to a quivering puddle of gelatinous crazy.

As I mentioned previously, “being Mommy is a full time job where breaks aren’t guaranteed.” It is true, some days there aren’t any breaks to be had, but I learned the hard way that if I don’t make a point of taking some “me” moments it will be worse because grumpy, stressed, short fused Mommy is extremely unpleasant for everyone.

I do feel bad, tuning out here and there, working on crafts for my Etsy store, or going to the bathroom by myself every once in a while and my house is consistently messy but it’s not dirty and that’s the balance that I maintain. I figure if anyone doesn’t like it, they can just not visit, and I’m good with that.

Being Mommy is developing a new comprehension of the word “Pride”

I’ve discovered over these three years of mommy-ness that pride isn’t a single feeling. There are actually all sorts of previously unexplored degrees of pride that you tap into when offspring are involved.

Recently I dropped something in the kitchen and it made a really loud crashing sound. I saw her startle (she couldn’t see me) and instead of crying because she was scared, the first sound out of her mouth was “You okay Mommy?”. That question just made me glow in a way I can’t translate into words.

I am also proud of our daughter for the most trivial things as I’m sure every parent is, and I make an effort to congratulate every little achievement because maybe they are small to me but they’re all huge firsts for her and she deserves to be proud of herself. Every one of her firsts is a brick in a foundation that she will be building on for the rest of her life and I want that foundation to be STRONG.

Being Mommy is acknowledging that she came into the world a unique little individual with her own needs, thoughts and interests.

When I was pregnant I read somewhere that we need to stop trying to make our children into people someday because they’re already people now. Well that was the gist of it anyway. The point is to step back from the mommy bubble enough to appreciate the individual that exists from the moment they’re born instead of devoting all of your parenting energy into attempting to mould a human being like they’re putty that will only be of any real value when they’re older.

You would think that it would be completely natural to nurture all of your child’s little quirks to help them grow as individuals but sometimes it can be incredibly difficult. Like when you see other children excelling in areas your child adamantly refuses to have any interest in (ex: speech delays or cuddly attachment). On the other hand It is a really interesting experience discovering together what they do enjoy and if there is something they take to, just going with it and providing every resource to see how far they’ll take it.

Being Mommy is understanding that all food is shared.

The first thing that I do every morning is make her breakfast, and by the time I sit down with my own, she has finished hers and expects half of mine because we have always shared everything. It’s our own fault in a way for raising her that way but the good news is that (so far) she, in turn is always happy to share her own food if she’s asked, even if it’s her very favorite thing. She is also really good about asking first and will accept “no” for an answer.

Sometimes it does get a little frustrating though because occasionally I just want to sit down and enjoy something I’ve made or ordered for myself and the only way to do that is to eat long after she’s gone to bed or in a closet. Unfortunately all of our closets are stuffed with crapalanche so my options are fairly limited time-wise.

So yeah… all food is shared!

Being Mommy is peeing a little if I cough too hard.

If I have a cold, I wear a panty liner. Ever wonder why there is such a large section catering to women who leak a little in the feminine hygiene aisle? It’s because this is extremely common and it’s often a lovely little leftover from vaginal childbirth no matter how prolific you are with your keggles.

I mention this point because being a mother has made me more at peace with my own body, and I pretty much left my last shreds of modesty on the birthing table.

Parenthood is full of little sacrifices and oddly enough, a lot of them involve your undercarriage.

Being Mommy is seeing our home as a place to build memories. 

Our home is full of stuff. My husband and I are both very hobby oriented and our little house was filled long before our daughter arrived.

Our home is also fairly small by American standards, which is what my brain is hard wired for. Room sizes in the UK are tiny by comparison and basements for additional storage are a rarity. It has taken me years to retrain myself to cope with the lack of space and to break myself of thinking that my house should be maintained in such a way that it doesn’t even look lived in.

It’s only been fairly recently that I’ve said “to hell with it” and decided that our house has to please absolutely no one but us. It’s a place for us to live in and make memories in, and even though square footage is an issue, it’s going to grow around us, not the other way around.

So after this revelation we made some unconventional changes which have cumulatively improved our living space and letting go of that pressure I put on myself has been freaking fantastic.

Being Mommy is surrendering helplessly as she melts away the walls I spent a lifetime constructing revealing a softer side of myself that I thought had disappeared long ago.

I have spent a lot of my life being angry and bitter. I had a lot of reasons for my harshness and to be fair, they were pretty good ones but it’s not a great way to live. It took me years of being happily married and far away from the sources and triggers of my anger to begin to let go of some of that tension, but nothing has been as healing for me as having a daughter.

I’m not suggesting that I’m over it and I would never imply that having a child is a way to solve any problem, but I am so much happier than I was. Slowly I am remembering the best parts of my childhood instead of only the worst and the present is finally drowning out the negativity of the past because our little girl is more important than any of it.

This whole motherly side of me that I didn’t even know I had has surfaced, completely against my will and it has made me soft and exposed. I don’t feel entirely like myself anymore and at first I didn’t like that feeling but I’ve got to admit, the peace that comes with it is growing on me.

It’s now four minutes to bedtime and I need to get upstairs to bring Daddy time to a close so that I can read a certain little Muffin her stories with silly enthusiasm. I will cuddle her and sniff her and tell her that I love her big big before I turn out the light, like I do every night, not because it’s routine, or habit or tradition, but because I cherish every special moment she has given me just by being alive, and with all my heart, I Love…. Being Mommy.

 

 

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From → Mommy-ness

3 Comments
  1. Cheryl permalink

    This is a lovely post, Stu. I would like to point out that you were a family before the wee one arrived (from my perspective). I am truly happy for you. :)

    • Thank you :) You’re right, we were a family and referred to ourselves as such. I only meant that we became a family with her… a larger family I guess :)

      • Cheryl permalink

        No guessing there, you do have a larger family now. And it’s wonderful with all the ups and downs.

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