Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mama. Me? Wow . . .

I've been wound up in my thoughts. Seems the only way to break free is to unravel with words.

J is going to be 16 months in December. For nearly 16 months I've been a mom. Mother. Mommy. Mama. Ma. Me . . . crazy.

It isn't that it hasn't hit me. Like a Boppy filled with a ton of Legos . . . it hits me. Every day. I guess today was different, yet it was just like every other day.

Everyday I wake up and have this whole other person relying on me. I have to go and get him from his crib. I have to change his diaper . . . or else. I have to carry him down a flight of stairs.

I make his breakfast. I get him dressed. I brush his teeth, which you'd believe by his reaction is the removal of a limb with butter knife. I blow on his round little belly. I tickle his tiny feet (and even pull the lint out from between his toes). I wipe his nose and even dig a little if there's a horrid booger making it a little cumbersome to breath.

I save him from danger (which usually means saving him from himself) as he balances on three precariously stacked toys. I fish his Little People out of the vents (along with all sorts of things--apparently veggie cheese molds in a very odd way), reach for toys that are out of grasp while he pounds his hands and grunts for attention, not yet finding the words, "Mama, help."

I wipe away his tears when he cries and cradle him in my arms all the while whispering, "It's alright baby. Mama's right here."

I grab all sorts of off things from him, always wondering how he found them and why he finds them so fascinating--socks, twist ties, banana peel, gum wrapper, coffee filter (and yes, much of this will make its way to the vent if I'm not quick enough).

I watch as learns a little more every day. How the tentative steps of yesterday are now the confident strides of today. He's running. Jumping. "Talking" more and more each day. I love watching the little light go on in his head, the glimmer in his eyes with each new discovery, and the wide grin that spreads across his face when he realizes, "Wow. I did it! I don't know exactly what I did or how, but I know that it must be pretty cool since my mom has tears in her eyes and is clapping and jumping up and down like a dork!" Yeah. That look.

That brings me to today. What was so different? We did the same things. We played. We ate. We, or I, changed diapers. We got dressed.

Today it was just J and me. Daddy is off rolling balls down alleys. Just a few moments ago J was sitting at the table eagerly eating the rice and veggies I had set before him. We are practicing using a spoon. He was trying out all three of his spoons and clearly showed a preference for the deep spoon with the fat blue handle with raised dark blue stars.

As he slowly guided the spoon to his mouth, I got lost in watching the little grains of rice fall to the table.

What did I do before this? The question banged around in my head like pins after a strike (yeah, a bowling metaphor, and ode to J's daddy).

Seriously. What did I do? I came home from work. I threw my bag on the kitchen table. I ate a snack. Plopped in front of the TV, grabbing a stack of papers to grade.

T and I said our hellos like roomies still hungover from last Friday's party. During the work week he knew to stay clear. If I wasn't grading until the early hours of the morning I was planning. Overplanning, to be honest. Damn overachieving perfectionist with a slightly unhealthy dose of OCD. How could he stand her?

I couldn't.

I was wrapped up in my job as a teacher of other people's children. I carved out time to read, but only on rare occasions (like a holiday or three-day weekend). I chatted with family and friends. Hung out with my husband. Save for the occasional trips, parties and visits to MI to see family, we were pretty much homebodies. I watched movies, seldom TV shows. I tried to sleep.

To be honest. I squeezed my life in between the grading and planning. And it was a tight fit.

But. I was happy. Even if no matter what I did the grading, the planning, the teaching always loomed heavy on me. I lived my job. I thrived on it. It was my oxygen. I was always thinking of what papers I had to grade. What activities I had to plan. How would I get it all done? When would I get it all done?

In the end. I always DID get it all done. Yet, there were always sacrifices.

Always . . .

That life is over.

It has been for nearly 16 months.

I sing songs now. "Head, shoulders, knees and toes . . . " I color (read: try to prevent J from EATING crayons--it's a learning process). I change diapers while singing my Barry White version of Old MacDonald (anything to keep him from squirming). I make tiny little waffles in the morning and then sit with my son while we giggle all through breakfast at the tiny waffle squares. We dance to the "kidz only" music station, spinning around until we are both dizzy.

I don't grade advanced placement essays anymore. I watch a toddler carefully balance rice on his spoon.

I don't plan grammar or literature lessons anymore. Instead, I pull out the crayons, stack blocks and play hide 'n seek.

I talk to my husband, sharing stories of our son while we laugh at the craziness that is now our life. We stay up late at night, reading. Talking. And, just being together without the heavy burden of my job creating distance between us.

I guess it all hit me today. This new life. I think when this new baby enters your life that you still believe in the back of your mind that your old life will return. That it is merely filed away while you live someone else's existence.

Today I realized that this is my life. And, I'm pretty sure I'm better for it. I've slowed down. Way down. I cherish my son. My family. I totally dig the simple things in ways I never did before (Did you know that if you listen really carefully you can hear snow hit the ground?) . I don't freak out (and boy could I freak out!). I'm patient. I listen. I take time to think instead of rushing to speak (most of the time). I am empathetic to a fault. I'm still and dork who does her share of very lame things. And, my life is far from perfect.

But. I wouldn't have it any other way. Maybe one day I'll return to teaching with a whole new perspective. Maybe by then I'll just get IT.

Until then . . . Mama. Me? Wow.

I have to go now. J just walked by with the actual VENT COVER in his hands. Here we go . . .

42 comments:

Mr Lady said...

That feeling never, ever goes away. Not when they go to school, not when they hit puberty, not ever. And that makes me really f'ing happy.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

You remind me so much of me as a new mother. I think of the young women in my teaching program that are planning on starting families soon and I know that I was right to raise my kids first and then embark on this all-consuming career. You've really validated that for me.

April said...

To answer your question, yes you do still have that new mommy smell :) but it doesn't stink at all.
You will find, as he gets older, that both of you will continue to progress and grow. You will have your moments of being that "old" you, but they will be different because you're different now.
Truth be told, it's a mommy thing, and the lessons never stop and the smell never goes away. But it's like having a new sense to experience the world differently.
It will not always be slow, but it will always be new.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

Mr Lady is right, it never goes away. And it's awesome!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Erin said...

It is hard to imagine life before them, isn't it? Then I think, would I want that life back? Never in a million years!!
The vent cover? Too funny! That is why I am NOT encouraging the walking!!
:)

Tracey said...

It's amazing, isn't it? Beautiful reflections, dear.

Lori said...

Your old life sounds JUST like what I live now!! I hope to have the joys of motherhood one day too...I often wonder if I can teach and have a child, because I give so much to my job and the kids in my class now...will I have enough to give to both? Great post once again missy! :-)
Happy Turkey Day!

melissa said...

i am in constant amazement when it comes to my children. from my 13 year old all the way down to my almost 5 year old. your life never goes back to how it was before. how can it? even if it did...in some semblance...it still would be the 100% same. because these creatures that we are raising become out utmost priority.
but damn if they can make you miserable at the same time!!
excellent post!!
happy thanksgiving honey!!

anglophilefootballfanatic.com said...

I was that teacher. I know what you mean - exactly. But, I would never set foot in a classroom again. Partially for fear I'd become that teacher again & neglect my child. I think you are an amazing mom. Now, go figure out what he's hidden now.

Kim said...

As a Mom to be I have to say that I loved your blog today. I'm excited for this change in my life and can't wait to welcome my son into my life.

Elaine A. said...

Life certainly does change. I was just thinking about my BC (before children) life the other day and it wasn't nearly as wonderful! ; )

Beautifully written post...

P.S. my 18-month old feels the same way about teeth brushing!

lizzy-loo said...

it is an ever changing thing. when you are through with the new mommy stage there is another stage and another. there is something to enjoy and marvel at for all.

i hope we can all steer clear of those elastic waistbands though!

Momisodes said...

I so get it. It's amazing to look back and reflect.

I often wonder when and how I'll feel when I return to my career. But for now, I'm glad to be mama, too :)

Flea said...

:D

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Pretty amazing life, isn't it? And Mr Lady is right, it doesn't go away. I feel the same way as I watch my 14 year old switch back and forth between child and man each day.
Every day is an adventure.

Pamela said...

Great post. Hope you're having a nice Thanksgiving.

Pregnantly Plump said...

While I really enjoyed working in news, it could never compare to staying home and enjoying Little Elvis.

Beth from the Funny Farm said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! =)

Karen said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you guys!

Kami said...

Oh he's a fiesty on that J!

Being a mother changes you, for the better.

No question.

crazymumma said...

Juat wait. Ten years hence. When you are kneeling in front of a box and pulling out photos from this time. You will be amazed at how you have changed and the magnificent passage of your child.

Not saying I did that today. Noooooo.

I love it when they start tearing the house apart. Like why should't he be carrying around an air register? Really.

Eve Grey said...

Really beautiful. Words I needed to hear today.

Velma said...

It's so true, everything that you wrote. I don't miss my old life, but I'll never have it again. :)

painted maypole said...

oh. yes. I get this.

Smart A$$ Mom said...

ever do that thing in your life when you asked yourself, will i ever truly enjoy these things i must do: exercise, cooking, cleaning, going to school, etc. And then you are a mom, and you see that there is finally something, that someone will truly love every single second and see where the word 'miracle' came from? that is what your post said to me.

Hyphen Mama said...

Exactly!!

It took me over a year to acclimate to being home more than a few hours a day. 5 years later, a bad day at home is still better than the best day at a job.

I have to confess that I still wonder when things will settle down and feel "normal".

Veggie Mom said...

Motherhood is awesome, isn't it? And you know, it gets better as time goes on. Just said goodbye to my 2, who were home for the long TG weekend. They're returning to their "other" home-college-today! Now I know what Shakespeare meant when he said, "Parting is such sweet sorrow."

Vodka Mom said...

I DO remember those days. Whew. I'm exhausted just thinking about them!

CC said...

I sometimes wonder what I would be like (and my life) if I was home full time.....

LceeL said...

Now .. NOW I know why I love you.

Woman in a Window said...

A whole new dimension to life, isn't it? My husband and I were just talking about this last night. The meaning of life in a heating vent. That's what it is. The simple becomes profound and hearing is amplified, understanding and appreciation abounds. What a gift!

Nap Warden said...

I so get this post. It's weird to think that before life it totally gone. Plus it's better than you ever thought it would be:)

Tiaras & Tantrums said...

what is this quote I see in my head . . . when a woman has a child she is born - something like that. Beautiful post - so very true - and it compounds when you have another baby and another . . . and then you can't remember anything about your old self - because where did that person go. Oh, yeah, covered in slobber and snot! hee hee

BusyDad said...

Isn't it cool how everything just matters more now? Every little song, every look, every smile. That to me is the coolest thing about being a parent. Life doesn't just pass you by anymore. You actually live it. Great perspective and awesome post!

Karen MEG said...

It is a huge adjustment, but one for the better. It sounded like you were describing me, before I had the kids. Before I stayed HOME with my kids, almost 4 years ago now ... FOUR YEARS ... now that's freaking me out.

Of course you can't go back. But you just become a new you. A new you that's a mommy. And there's nothing like it in the world.

Like you I am more relaxed, just ask the hubs. You can't keep that level of intensity up once you've got kids. I've moved from type A++ to a simple type A :)

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

These are THE days.

MommyTime said...

This is really beautiful and touching. I am crabby and distracted far too often as I think about the looming stacks of papers to grade, the novels I haven't read that I still need to prep to teach, the endless meetings I have to attend. I think sometimes that I'm doing a good job juggling it all, and then I read something like this and realize that I'm not. I wonder if I would be a better and more patient mother if I were not working. (I've always thought I would be more grumpy because less fulfilled, but now I wonder...) You have captured so well the all-consuming nature of teaching. Now I really wonder about my own life...

Trannyhead said...

This sounds like our plurk conversation a few weeks back. I never would have thought I'd happily go from arguing multi-million dollar cases to picking up Legos, but yet here I am.

Oh - and my son totally took off the AC vent, tonight, too. How he got it off? I have no idea.

Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

I.LOVE.this.post.

Love it.

Loveitloveitloveitloveit.

The end.

(Oh, and would someone invent some sort of cheesecloth-type cover for vents, please? Thanks.)

kari and kijsa said...

It never does go away...and somehow, it truly becomes one of the best parts!
Happy Saturday!
blessings,
kari & kijsa

Colleen said...

It's funny how we seem to focus on the hard parts, the negative parts, of parenting (ok, maybe that's just me)...and how often we forget to see what wonderful people our children have turned us into. Thank you for writing this.

Rach (Mommy Learns to Blog) said...

Wow. Such a beautiful post to read with so much self-realization. You're a great mom and I'm glad you're so deeply cherishing every moment of it!

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