I like the “me” that being a mom has turned me into. This statement comes with plenty of exceptions but the over-arcing feeling I get when I think about the woman I am now versus the woman I was before kids is pride. This is personal. This is not a how-to article. This is just where I’ve ended up today…for tomorrow we will be covered in macaroni and cheese sauce and I’ll feel stupid for saying any of this.
I was never very logical and, to this day, still struggle with finding the most effective route to any solution. However. In the last year (since our second baby was born), I’ve been forced to assess most situations based on whose needs are more critical. Triage. Quickly assessing “more goldfish, please,” versus catching the eight month old who isn’t as steady on those feet as he thinks he is. How can I get dinner ready when both kids are positive that they need to be held at the same time? Who do I load into the grocery cart first? It might sound ridiculous but managing one sort-of independent toddler with one kind-of mobile baby is a logistical nightmare sometimes. The silver lining in these scenarios is that, slowly, I’m getting better at making decisions that help things run smoothly; I like how that feels.
As I get older, I’m becoming so much more cautious. The what-ifs are almost always at the forefront of my mind, especially in relation to my kids and my husband; this is no way to live. I’m not downplaying the importance of being careful; I’m talking about becoming stagnant with worry. Having two babies (babies who take after their adventurous dad) that are developing a healthy love of freedom forces me to confront the paralysis of fear every. single. day. I can’t cloak them in bubble wrap. I can’t strap them into any number of baby containers all day (not even if I tried). I can’t rob them of the memories that both their dad and I cherish about our own childhoods – running, climbing, jumping, swinging…even crashing. I will never be able to squash the impulse to redirect both of them to activities that don’t involve anything dangerous (like…I don’t know…reading a soft-sided book while sitting on a fluffy rug…with a helmet on). But. Every so often, the “go for it” me emerges; I like her. She would have little to no motivation to show up if it weren’t for those babies.
Now for the embarrassing one – it took having my own babies to love other peoples’ babies. I’m not talking about my nieces or nephews or my friends’ kids – I’m talking about the babies here in the U.S. and the ones in far away places that need love so very much. I wouldn’t say that I was unaffected by the stories or pictures of children in bad situations before. It’s just that, now, those same stories or pictures wreck me; I feel it and it is raw. I hate that simply being raised to love others didn’t quite do the trick but I love that now, even though it is much less painful to not, I can feel compassion like this because I believe it will move me to action. I had to meet my kids first. I had to love them first. Better late than never, I guess. Thank GOD there are people out there that just get it right away and love people regardless of whether or not their own personal situation prompts them to.
Lastly, and this might sound like cheating, I like the me I am when someone else is watching my kids; this me appreciates everything. A drive alone to the grocery store (I hate the grocery store…but solo me LOVES the grocery store), an oil change – it doesn’t matter! Food tastes better. My husband is even more gorgeous than he was before (especially if he is the one watching my kids). Considering their tiny needs before my own all day is exhausting (though rewarding – when they’re asleep) and being on a date with my husband or being by myself sometimes is just. freaking. awesome. I like that I can recognize and thoroughly enjoy the simplest of things when I have a few minutes to myself/with my man.
Becoming a mom, man. It’s the intervention I needed to help me learn how to prioritize, how to be brave when I definitely don’t want to be, how to care, and how to appreciate the quiet. It feels good to grow. I’ve grown and I like it.
(Worth mentioning – this me needs a shower. Bad. The kind of shower where you use soap, wash your hair, AND shave your legs. This me doesn’t smell as good as twenty-two year old me.)
Thank you to my guest contributor Layne Watkins!