When I became a mom fifteen years ago, I made sure I learned what was the best stroller and carseat to have. I spent hours reading Consumer Reports to find out what cribs stood the test of time and what clothing would withstand multiple washes.
I spent weeks picking out the perfect border, rug, and bedding for my dream nursery. For months my father would send me plans to approve for the cradle he made by hand, and I made sure that it was all set up and ready to go weeks before my son was born.
I also made sure my husband and I were ready to care for the baby. We took the courses, read the books and picked out and met our pediatrician. I learned about latch techniques and had bottles bought just in case nursing didn’t work for me. I thought I was as prepared as I could possibly be.
Then the nurse put this extremely tiny person in my arms and I knew all bets were off.
It didn’t matter how much I planned for this, how many shirts and blankets I had pre-washed in the recommended baby detergent or how perfect my nursery looked. I was now completely responsible for another human being, and I found out what every other mother who came before me learned–you can plan all you want for motherhood, but the job is always much more than you ever expected.
I was expecting my life to change. I didn’t realize that what happens is that your old life is replaced with a completely new one.
Then I blinked and my tiny infant was a year old.
I could change a diaper with one hand, instinctively knew how to soothe him, and what foods he would like and those that he would not. Folding and unfolding a stroller or inserting the infant carrier into the car became second nature. Motherhood had become very natural.
This was the job I was put on earth to do.
But then milestones I knew should be met didn’t seem to be reached. Panic like I never knew set in. Was something wrong with my perfect son?
Once again I threw myself into research mode and found out everything I could about speech and developmental delays. I found the right therapists, and I knew in my heart that I would not rest until he could accomplish all the things he wanted to.
I knew I finally found my calling. All the years of struggling with my own dyslexia made sense now. I could use what I knew to help someone else, and not just anyone, my own child. I was on the perfect path. I was a natural mother.
Then I had a second child.
New challenges that I could never imagine were now put in front of me. I knew in my soul something was wrong with our beautiful daughter. But it’s OK because I would just use everything I learned with Tom to help Lizzy. No problem, I have this covered. I am Super Mom.
Pride goeth before the fall.
I’m not Super Mom, just another parent of young kids. I’m a person who is, dare I say, human. I’m subject to all the failings and feelings that everyone else experiences and feels.
More years go by, more challenges come up, another child enters our family, and once again I change and morph into my role as mom.
I’m an experienced mother of three kids now. I have seen my share of milestones, high fevers, trips to the ER. I know that I can plan for the next steps my children will go through but I will never really be prepared.
So why am I now completely shocked that life with my teenager is challenging? Have I not learned anything in my 15 years of on the job training?
I hate to admit this but once I again I thought I had this parenting thing covered.
I know. I know. Will I ever learn?
The sweet child that was always so kind to his brother and sister can transform into a mean older brother in 30 seconds flat.
Wasn’t he just helping Peter play chess five minutes ago? What did he just call his brother?
A simple question of, do you need clean socks, can be answered with such an attitude that I find myself saying the same phrases that my own parents used on me when I was a teenager. I actually said, “Who do you think you are,” the other day, even though I swore I would never use a phrase that I so despise and think has no use in my parenting.
Did I really just threaten to step on his iPhone if he didn’t put it down and help me out?
Oh how the mighty have fallen.
Yes, once again motherhood has me down on my knees. This job is not for the faint of heart.
Yet the rewards are too numerous to count. The attachment I have to my children is not quantifiable.
And, I adore the child who started it all.
My gorgeous, kind-hearted Tom. A kid who has taken obstacles thrown his way and turned them into strengths. A boy whose smile can make my day. And a son who reminds me of the best, and yes, even the worst, parts of myself and Joe.
I can’t begin to describe how I feel as we move into this new phase of parenting. The idea that in a few short years he will be leaving the safety of our nest for new horizons is dizzying. Wasn’t he just a bundle of blankets handed to me in the hospital?
Happy 15th birthday Tom. Thank you for picking me as your mother.
I sincerely hope you knew what you were doing.