Tuesday, May 10, 2011

professionally derailed.

a friend sent the following to me yesterday, and it made me cry at work.  so true, every word.
We are sitting at lunch when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of "starting a family." "We're taking a survey," she says, half-joking. "Do you think I should have a baby?"  "It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping
my tone neutral. "I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations...."

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but that becoming a
mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.

I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking "What if that had been MY child?" That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could
be worse than watching your child die.  I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub.  That an urgent call of "Mom!" will cause her to drop a souffle or her best crystal without a moment's hesitation.  I feel I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby's sweet smell. She will
have to use every ounce of her discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.

I want my daughter to know that everyday decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy's desire to go to the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma.  That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom.  However decisive she may be at the office, she will econd-guess herself constantly as a mother.  Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself. That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give it up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years -- not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.

I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor. My daughter's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child. I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving. I hope she will understand why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss the threat of nuclear war to my children's future.

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike. I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or a cat for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real, it actually hurts.

My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. "You'll never regret it," I finally say. Then I reach across the table, squeeze my daughter's hand and offer a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all of the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings. This blessed gift from God . . . that of being a Mother.

Monday, May 9, 2011

children will listen.

very special thanks to my friend marie for this photo.  i was not supposed to make an appearance at jack's photo shoot, and i didn't know she had taken this picture, but despite my unwashed hair, i like this. 

yesterday was my first mother's day as someone's mother.  i arrived home from my sister's bridal shower weekend in michigan to roses, wine, and steaks on the grill.  it was lovely.  and after a meal shared with my husband and baby boy (each of whom made it possible for me to be a mother in the first place), i swaddled my sweet little angel and rocked him to sleep.  he closed his eyes and his breathing became rhythmic, and i placed him gently into his crib.

i went to find john, and discovered him outside in the top "fort" part of our swingset.  we sat there for an hour or so, me sipping reisling, him a miller lite, talking about our plans for the house and jack and our neighbors and life... and i got to thinking about being a mother.

sometimes i'm so busy accomplishing everything that goes into a day that i don't ever get a chance to reflect on the wonderful opportunity and awesome responsibility that come along with motherhood.  it's amazing and overwhelming and gratifying and frustrating and completely worth it, if that makes any sense.  and really, we get to call these little people our own for such a short time... and then they're off to flutter their wings and make their own life. 

and so yesterday, while crammed into the top of my son's swingset, i vowed again to treasure each and every moment of motherhood.  i have been so blessed over the last six months to mother my little man, and i am grateful each day for him.  happy (belated) mother's day to all!  xoxo

How do you say to your child in the night?
Nothing's all black, but then nothing's all white
How do you say it will all be alright
When you know that it might not be true?
What do you do?

Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say "Listen to me"
Children will listen

Careful the wish you make
Wishes are children
Careful the path they take
Wishes come true, not free
Careful the spell you cast
Not just on children
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you
Careful the tale you tell
That is the spell
Children will listen

How can you say to a child who's in flight
"Don't slip away and I won't hold so tight"
What can you say that no matter how slight
Won't be misunderstood
What do you leave to your child when you're dead?
Only whatever you put in it's head
Things that your mother and father had said
Which were left to them too

Careful what you say
Children will listen
Careful you do it too
Children will see
And learn, oh guide them that step away
Children will glisten
Tample with what is true
And children will turn
If just to be free
Careful before you say
"Listen to me"


Sunday, May 1, 2011

on baby time.

we bought our new house back on january 26th-ish, so we've officially had three months to make plans, have panic attacks, peruse paint chips and the like.  and, as per usual, my lofty dreams about all we'd accomplish prior to moving the last box into the house took over.  i assumed we'd re-paint all the rooms in the house, tackle some landscaping, maybe put in a garden for shits and giggles.

well, i realized quickly that that's NOT going to happen.  the previous owners were wonderful stewards of our little home, but they had two girls.  two girls who apparently really like very bright, saturated colors in their bedrooms.  we spent quite a long time taping off the trim and priming what will eventually be jack's bedroom yesterday.  it took quite a while to prime the hot pink and purple walls.  dear lord.  it was like a life sized barbie playhouse up there.

it was a very long day.  a long day that began at 6 a.m., after a night that ended at 2 a.m.  in between negotiations/settlement discussions (for work), washer/dryer shopping (for me!), swing shopping (for jack!) and priming (with john), i am exhausted and my back (along with my head) hurts very much.  it occurs to me that we will probably be taking our sweet time turning this little house into our very own.  afterall, we are on jack time.