“How do you want to celebrate Mother’s Day?” This was a question posed by the Mothering class I’m taking (virtually) during the Shelter-in-Place. Immediate thoughts were: hot bath. Face Mask. Breakfast in bed. One hour of uninterrupted yoga. Two hours to clean our cottage. (That’s a weird one, I know. But I’m weird, and cleaning is a form ofself-care for me.) Gluten-free pizza. Bubbles (the Champagne kind). And one whole hour to write.
So here it is, one hour of writing paired with Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, a gently tart, delicately balanced bubbly, possessing a simple yet elegant finish (sounds like how I aspire to be as described a Mother). Billecart was a favorite stop on our honeymoon in Champagne and BTW, in case you care, it’s pronounced “bee-lay-cahr sal-moh”. (I recorded our tour guide for proof.) One hour of writing. No time for edits or adds. So I immediately want to apologize in advance, but I’m not going to. I’m working on that. Not apologizing.
Ok: so, some unedited thoughts, 5 months into my Mothering journey.
Sometimes I still can’t process the whole thing. Me as “Mother”…me. The girl who looked like a slightly gawky teen well into her 30s (with the increasing lines forming on my forehead daily, I sure can’t say that now); a high-pitched, airy, manic pixie dream (or…nightmare?) girl. “Mother” feels of the Earth: solid, wise, soft, all-knowing. The polar opposite of “me.”
In my youth, and even into my early 30s, I never imagined I’d be a Mother. For various reasons. Mostly because I found dogs more adorable than babies (which I thought to be a very clear sign I should not have a baby). I never rocked baby dolls, never tried to feed a stuffed animal a bottle. I never babysat. I was afraid to hold other people’s babies (what if I didn’t cradle them right and their delicate neck fell back? What if they pooped on me? What if they cried?). Babies terrified me. When I was pregnant, I was way more frightened of baby care than I was of childbirth. How will I know what to “do?” How will I learn to change a diaper? How will I be able to understand what this little creature wants and needs when all she can do is cry instructions?
Well, the instructions are quite clear, if you just listen. Every day, I am learning to listen. And I found out: taking care of this small creature? You just do. You just figure it out. It’s the ease of slipping into this role of “Mother” that astonishes me. One day I wasn’t, one day I was. A Mother. Not that I’m good at it. I’ve accidentally bonked her in the head. Hard. Twice. I’ve accidentally bit her thumb. Hard. Twice. I probably cried just as much (or maybe more) than she did those first weeks, trying to figure out how to feed her and soothe her in my spindly arms.
I’m so overwhelmingly grateful for her presence that my heart wants to burst out of my chest and then in the exact same moment I also wish I were sitting (alone) on a beach in Hawaii sipping a Piña Colada and reading a home decor magazine. And then just as suddenly, I’m back, and I’d rather be here than anywhere else, holding this kicking, red-faced, screaming creature. And then she’ll smile. Those smiles (and laughs, which she parses out like scraps for the the dogs, ha!) are like brilliant, fleeting little champagne bubbles: they fill my glass to overflow, then flit along their merry way, popping and vanishing into thin air. And then I can’t wait for those giggles to come back again, and I shall make all the funny faces until they do.
And Time. TIME! What on Earth did we do before she was here? Maybe we took more showers. Maybe I wrote more. The house was definitely cleaner. The to-do list had more check marks on it. Now suddenly there’s an urge to make the most of that fleeting free time. A half hour? Take care of the basics. Pee. Eat something. Drink something. Pee. Send a work email. Eat something else. Pee. Gaze at the baby monitor…Ooo – it seems maybe we’ve got another 10 minutes before she wakes? YES! SCORE! Go down a rabbit hole looking for a baby gate to fit around our odd staircase. Another 5 minutes, and…NOOO! She’s wiggling? Already? How? Oh, crap! I forgot to make that phone call. Oh well. I’ll do it tomorrow. Or (probably) the day after that.
Every day is a chance to do better. I generally do worse, but there’s 100% chance of better. Somedays I feel like I just can’t do it. But I am doing it.
I am doing Me as a “Mother.” Heck, maybe there is a little Earth to be found in me, under all that air.
And I do find her cuter than our dogs. (Don’t. Tell. The. Dogs.)