Can I start by saying that I’m not a crier? By nature I am not a super emotional individual, it takes either anger and frustration, or a video of a soldier coming home and surprising his family. Oh! And that darn Budweiser commercial where they surprised a returning soldier with a parade in his hometown? Killed me.
But really, I’m not a person that cries often. That being said, have you ever read the children’s book, Love You Forever? It’s a killer. I dare you to read that to your children at night and NOT get choked up. It’s about a mama who goes through all the horrifying, awful, trying stages of motherhood and still, STILL, sings to her child at night and rocks him while he’s sleeping. We don’t read it a lot, but when it comes back into rotation it gets me, every time.
I’m not sure what I expected motherhood would be, but I know I thought it would be easier than it is, and less worrisome. I thought I could go into everything clear headed and make these perfect decisions all the time. My children would be perfect, darn it! They would never break something in a store, or throw tantrums in public, or get in trouble in school, because I, the most PERFECT parent, would have raised them to be amazing people that did no wrong. I would do a better job than all those other parents that seemed to be screwing up all the time. I would never do anything to them that I didn’t like from my own childhood, or fall into the traps of bribing, cajoling, screaming, or locking myself in a bathroom to eat a piece of chocolate in peace.
Are we clear that I was slightly delusional?
I had my two children really close together, and soon after my husband deployed several times over the next four years for months at a time. I came into parenthood in an ‘Oh My God what am I doing, help me please, this is CRAZY!’ way. I can write for days (years!) about all the things that I thought I knew versus reality, but I won’t.
I read somewhere that there are two types of people in this world when it comes to parenting woes: those that don’t care (non-parents), and those that already know (parents.) I know I never cared about the hardships of parenthood pre-children, I knew better (ha!), and wasn’t interested in the details. And now I have children and can fully commiserate with other parents, but in the end, aren’t we all just treading water? We’re all in this same sinking boat, and most of us can’t even pick our heads up from bailing out the water that threatens to sink us.
What I can say is this, these children of mine have altered me forever. I am not the same person I was before them and can never be changed back. My heart and head and every cell of my being has been altered in a way that is inoperable. Being a mother is my calling card, my one identity that fits better than all the rest, and I like it like that. The birth of my two children is a tattoo on my heart of sorts, the presence of them can never be removed no matter what. They are my biggest accomplishment, and even though they will grow and I will go on to do many other things in life and accomplish different things in different ways, it won’t be the same. They make my life worthwhile, they are what makes me ME.
I write this on the eve of my son’s (my baby!) fifth birthday. The years, they have flown by, and more so for him, my second and last child. Life just sort of raced on, it sped up and I blinked and he is FIVE. Yet I feel that he is still that baby, that boy on my hip that loved his mama the most and refused to go with any other person. He is my cuddly one, my child that always wants to hang out and snuggle, always wants to make sure I won’t be “lonely.” HE squeezes me extra tight when he hugs, he always says, “mama, you are so beautiful”, and his smiley brown eyes melt my heart. He is the little boy I didn’t know I needed, the baby that surprised me with his easygoing attitude and quiet ways. He is the calmness and the answer to a prayer I didn’t know I needed.
The cliche of, “enjoy it while it lasts, because it goes by fast” is true, and I hate that. Time does speed by, in all its monotonous tasks and mundane activities. They add up to two little lives that make up my life, and I consider it a life worth living. These children of mine, who are no longer babies, will always be my babies in my heart. The keeping of them makes leaves me feeling blessed beyond words, and I’m proud to be their mama.
And to my son, who filled this little hole in my heart that I had no idea was missing, I want to wish you a Happy Birthday! Mama love you more than I can ever write in words.
Love you forever.