Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Motherhood

I think what is so startling about being a Mother is the astounding fact that the thing you have wanted for many years and have spent months thinking about and planning for is an actual other human being. I knew it, of course. I tried to think about the fact that she would be her own person, but you can't fully grasp it until this other person is making sounds and faces and being another person. And you realize how much you have been thinking of them as an extension of yourself. But she's not me. She's Maya. She's not Marco. She's Maya. She's not any other baby on the planet.

I look at her face, staring blankly back at mine, and I realize that I can't control her. I can't make her smile or make her pain go away. I can't make it any easier to poop. She could be a very pensive person or a lively personality. I have no say. I have no control. She could have weird feet or unruly hair. She could be argumentative. She could be really sweet. I will love her, but I will have no control. When she's shouting at me at 4 a.m., there's nothing I can do to make her stop except eliminate all the usual things (food, dirty diaper, being held). I can't physically make her stop shouting. (And I do mean shouting - she rarely cries - she likes to shout. She seems perfectly fine except she shouts every few minutes really loudly to get your attention and request various things.) It's a little helpless feeling to not be able to correct things for her or know exactly what is wrong. And it's also a bizarre sense of being a completely OTHER human being. It's just a glimpse into the future. Right now she's a month old and responding to reflexes. But in a few months and years she'll be doing things that could be harmful or wrong, and, aside from attempting to parent her as best we can, I can't physically control her life. She is another human being with her own desires and ideas and drives.

Another major thing that has struck me with this motherhood thing is the fact that I am her mother. I look in the mirror, sometimes when I'm holding her, and I think, "I'm her mother." It just doesn't compute. I mean, the act of mothering is natural and I love caring for her. But when I look at us from an outside perspective and see me with my face and my hair and my fat body as her mother, it just seems odd. I find myself saying to her all the time, "I'm your mom." But it's not really for her, she knows that. It's for me. Me, with all my flaws and insecurities and mistakes, am a child's mother. She's going to look to me for comfort. When she thinks of the person to go to about things in her life, she's going to come to me. She's going to learn how to be a woman from me. She's going to learn about relationships from my relationship with Marco. She's going to learn how to keep her house by seeing our house. Holy Crap!! What a grave responsibility! Now I get why mothers go totally sacrifice their own well-being for their children. I see how they neglect themselves and go all out for their kids. It's totally up to us to protect and prepare her for her actual life. She's in Life School with us for the next 18 years. We're covering Survival 101 right now, but soon I'll be getting into such subjects as Confidence, Diligence, Responsibility and Organization. And I don't even know if I know the curriculum for those subjects myself. And she is going to learn from our model. I better get cracking on finishing up my own schooling, especially in the areas I struggle the most.

But I guess I need to keep in mind that part of what I want her to learn about life is that it's not perfect and no one is perfect. I keep thinking that I need to hurry up and lose weight and get it together with the food issues because I want to spare her of that struggle. I don't even want her to see me fat. I want her to see me healthy. I want her to learn to be healthy. But maybe it will be more realistic for her to see that her mom isn't perfect and that she's okay with being an imperfect person. This isn't how I pictured myself starting motherhood, but it is the reality. She's going to know me as me, no matter what perfect standard I had set for myself. I'll still have weird knees and large feet with calluses. I'll still have my hands and wear glasses. There are so many things I can't change. They are part of the wildly imperfect woman I am, the mother Maya will know. She'll cling to my flabby tummy when she's scared. She'll hold my dry, rough hands with broken nails. And to her those will be the hands of a mother. To her that will be the body of a mother, perfect in her love and her wholeness as a woman. To her a mother will be me, just as I am.

2 comments:

kc said...

Heather,
What you just wrote was amazing. I want you to seriously consider writing a book. Or a column.

I can go on (about your authenticity; the structure of your piece; your originality). . so email me if you want more thoughts. But I'm serious. They've got a market for this and you're good at it.

Maya is one lucky lucky girl to have a mom like you.

Katie Collins said...

Heather, what can I say...you're a mom.
I love what you wrote. Yep, when it all hits the fan, you're her mom. You're the one for her. - and she's so lucky to have you!
It's crazy and beautiful and frightening and wonderful, huh?

Also, I miss you!

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