On a Decade of Motherhood

A couple of weeks ago, I was having coffee with a girlfriend at Milano. A young woman came in with two small chidden: a toddler boy and a girl baby. At one point, we discovered the little boy wandering around the coffee shop, looking for his mom. I remembered seeing her walk by the window earlier, so I grabbed his hand, and took him outside to where she was at her car. She gave me a “it’s really hard having two little kids” speech, and I murmured some words of sympathy, being a mom myself.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about that woman all day. While I would have never left my 2-yr-old alone in a coffee shop to teach him a lesson, or for any other reason, I could totally understand and relate to that woman’s desperation.

My son turns 10 today.

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I have only hazy, oxytocin-addled memories of that day, but I can tell you this: I thought I was prepared. I was not.

Being a parent is hard. I still, even now, when he’s 10 (and it has gotten so much easier as he gets older!), sometimes have bad days when I dream about running away and joining the circus. I remember those difficult days when he was a baby, crying, and feeling so inadequate and like I must be the world’s worst mother. And then it would all change with a giggle or some new thing he figured out how to do. I still have days when I look at him and think “I have no idea what I’m supposed to do, here.” And so instead, I give him a hug, or I made him a snack. And yesterday, I got pronounced “the best mom in the world” because I bought him a pool noodle (although, to be fair, it was the kind with a hole in the middle).

Yes, being a parent is hard. But when I think back to 11 years ago, before he chose me and came into my life, I can’t remember what my life was like. Like my hazy 24-hour delivery, it’s there, in my memory. But I can’t connect to it somehow. The one constant in my life over the last 10 years, is him. His shining face, his big blue eyes, his squishable cheeks.

Yes. We have our ups and downs. But at the end of the day, I can’t imagine, even on the worst of days, what my life would be like without him in it. And I know I don’t want a life that doesn’t include him.

...and today.

…and today.

Happy Birthday, Michael.

I love you.

Mom

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2 comments

  1. Kennedy says:

    Beautiful.
    Parenting is such a mixed bag, and it is so easy to give the wrong message in one direction or another. It is so easy to say that it is the best thing that ever happened in your life and have it come off as a glowing, across the board, recommendation for being a parent. But its not. Being a parent is hard to pin down. I want to say its unique, but it isn’t – the fact that it took two of us to come up with one child puts the lie to that. Being a parent IS great… mostly. There are times when it is hellish. And most often those times are when you are helpless. A child who has decided to be upset and no real-world solution will calm them… that sucks. A child who is hurt or in danger – even for a moment – is no less than tied for the worst feeling n the world. I don’t think you could have one extreme without the other though. My kid makes me feel so wonderful most of the time that any time that joy is threatened in the least of ways is terrifying.
    There is also the nearly ubiquitous lie about how the day your child was born was the best day of your life. Bull. Shit.
    Unless you had some almost scientifically implausible and extremely unlikely set of circumstances come together in a perfect storm of soft-focussed beauty, that day was nothing but anxious. It was probably painful for at least one parent. It was confusing, scary and exhausting, and you probably spent at least a moment asking yourself why you didn’t feel immersed in that overwhelming joy that you hear so much about. (I have no doubt some people had a fleeting moment of it.) And that is if they day went well.
    But the day symbolizes a huge change that put together is one of if not the greatest and most exciting changes in your life… and in retrospect the day you became a parent becomes the best day of your life.
    My daughter is nearly three now and she makes me happy far more often than anything else she does. We have definitely crossed a threshold where there is a sense of friendship developing that is separate from our child/parent bond and I’ve never had a friend like her. It breaks my heart when I have to betray that friendship and be the parent, but I know that in a few decades we will be even better friends for it.

    Happy birthday Michael, I can hardly believe it has been over ten years since your Mom told me you were coming. When it was my turn she was one of the first people I told, and that was a good choice, she said some important things to me, and she keeps doing so all the time.

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