This is the piece I wrote and shared at Listen to Your Mother at the Walton Arts Center in May 2013. You can read a bit more about my Listen to Your Mother experience here and here, enjoy more photos (and a video!) from the evening at the end of this post.
[typography font=”Copse” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#8c0511″]He Loves Me Anyway[/typography]
Let me tell you a little story. It’s about a girl named Sarah (really – what’s the point of changing my name for the story?) who I knew during my teenage years and on up through my early twenties. She was a reluctant babysitter and a hesitant baby-holder. Sarah was confident she never wanted children of her own and didn’t mind telling friends and family about her plans to lead a child-free, pregnancy-free, peaceful, quiet life filled with lazy Saturday afternoon naps. She had very specific plans to spend her disposable income on things other than diapers and daycare.
Sure, Sarah had contact with babies and children – in public or at church or through friends with kids of their own. But the hard, impenetrable shell remained intact. No babies here. Babies are loud. And messy. And did I mention loud? Sarah would shudder when she heard babies crying in public places. And had been known to move tables at restaurants – or leave altogether – when her Baby Radar detected a child within a 20 foot radius. Danger! Danger!
And then Sarah grew up a little. She fell in love and got married. And for the first time, allowed herself to consider what it might be like to have one of those baby people. It might not be so bad.
And, as they say, the rest is history. I eventually learned that there really is something to this whole Mama thing. And I’ve never looked back.
Well, almost never.
There was an incident.
I was pregnant — in fact, overdue. I had already spent my last day at work before the baby and was taking a few days to wrap up loose ends and get some last minute things done at home. As I sorted through some shower gifts I hadn’t yet put away, I found a package of pacifiers, and I remembered something somewhere about boiling them before you give them to a baby. At our house we tend to err on the ‘germs are good for you’ side, but I thought, ‘why not?’ One less thing to worry about later.
So I dragged out a tiny little saucepan, filled it with enough water to cover two pacifiers, turned on the stove, and moved on to something else for a minute. After that “minute”, I decided it might be nice to take a hot, relaxing shower. So I did. Not in any hurry, I took a nice, long, leisurely shower. When I was done I leaned over to turn off the water, and as I stood up – it hit me. I threw open the shower curtain and I could smell it. Now in a panic, I took off for the other end of the house — soaking wet, naked, and waddling as fast as my 9-months-pregnant body could waddle. I was absolutely certain the house was on fire.
I got to the den and stopped dead in my tracks. That smell. It wasn’t smoke. It was the wretched, brutal stench of melted plastic – now vaporized and creating a fog so thick I couldn’t see across the room. Coughing and choking, I made it to the kitchen and over to the stove. No water left in the saucepan. And no remaining plastic. Just two little silicone nipples – taunting me. You think you can handle this ‘mom’ thing?
Naturally, I lost it. I called my husband at work and still standing naked and soaking wet in the plastic fog of my kitchen, I sobbed hysterically into the phone about what a worthless excuse for a mom I was sure to make. I couldn’t even boil water unsupervised — what business did I have taking care of a child?
I’m sure – through the barely coherent wailing – he had trouble deciding whether I actually had set the house on fire or maybe gone into labor — or perhaps some terrifying combination of the two. Poor guy.
Eventually, he got the entire story out of me, convinced me to take a breath, calm down — and for gosh sakes open some windows.
Now, of course, I can see the humor in the whole thing. At the time though, it seems silly, but it made me doubt myself.
It’s a pretty humbling experience – motherhood. You’re trusted with this little person – and you’re responsible for everything. It’s up to you to teach him to be kind and brave.
You’re his role model – in the big, obvious ways and the tiny, not-so-obvious ways. He watches you for cues and you are slowly but surely teaching him how to be his own little guy.
And sometimes – honestly – that’s all a little overwhelming. Moms are only human and the example we set is imperfect — at best. Teaching someone by example means being patient and just and honest — consistently. Even during the terrible twos and the time-outs and the days you wanna sell ’em to the gypsies.
I think maybe acceptance is my favorite part, so far. Kids have no concept of imperfection and no capacity for judgment. To a two year old, there are no two more enthralling, perfect people in the whole, wide stinkin’ world than Mama and Dada. My little boy doesn’t care how long it’s been since I dusted and he doesn’t care that I’m not a great driver. He doesn’t even care if I’m sometimes so tired that I have to make up some of the words as I go along, he sits in my lap and listens with the sweetest look on his face – as if he’s never heard anything more enchanting than the sound of my voice singing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”. And on the most complicated of days, when decisions are tough and responsibilities are heavy — and boiling water gets the best of you, I always know there’s a little guy waiting for me with a grin that could melt steel and a heart the size of Texas who loves me anyway.[hr]
Some girls grow up knowing they want to be mommies. Sarah didn’t, necessarily. She describes motherhood as an unexpected and absolute joy, a rewarding challenge — and the best adventure of her life. She lives in Fayetteville with her hubby and their four-year-old kiddo — cheering the Razorbacks and soaking up as much Fayettechill culture as possible. Sarah blogs at Musings of Mother Hood where she writes what she knows: full-time parenting a preschooler, a full-time job in advertising, a running habit, looking for opportunities to stamp her passport — and somewhere, somehow finding some balance.
Click any photo to enlarge.
CLICK HERE to view all clips from the 2013 Northwest Arkansas show.[hr]