Monday, July 15, 2013
I've Been a Mom for 16 Years
Actually, that's the whole gist of why I felt teary.
I thought to myself, "I had Sam 16 years ago." And then I thought, "At the moment Sam was born, I was reborn as a mother." And then I chuckled because that is really corny and I hate it when people say stuff like that. And then I got tears in my eyes because it's true. I'm better as a mom. I would never have opted to do the selfless, hard things on my own. Only for my babies. So I got an initial burst of teariness just for the meaningfulness of being a mom. Again, this was begrudging because I always hate it when people put moms on a pedestal especially in church talks on Mother's Day when they're all, "men have the priesthood and women have babies blah blah," because I think that the equivalent of Motherhood for men is Fatherhood. But what they say about motherhood is actually true: It's special and sacrificial and the most—probably the only—Christlike things I do are in my role as a mother.
But I got past that and was just looking at old photos of Sam. I felt tears again. I do miss him as a baby a little, even though I'm not a baby-hungry type that always wants to hold newborns. But that wasn't what made me tearful because if I had him as a baby now, I would miss 16-year-old Sam way more than I miss the baby. What I missed more than that, and what I think made me tear up is that I miss how I was when I just had Sam. I was so excited to finally be done with school and quitting my job and there was no internet or blogs (or scouting or high school) and all I did was just totally focus on Sam 100%. I didn't do anything else. At all. I have a 3-inch thick binder of pictures just for Sam's first year.
But, eventually, I went back to teaching to make some extra money and because I wanted to—I like teaching. And I had more kids—because I wanted to. Everything that got added in or added back in was by happy choice, but once you've got 2 kids (and then 3, and then 4) your parenting efforts are forever splintered. It's OK. It wasn't better when I just had Sam. But it was different.
Also, I hadn't failed at all yet. I am actually pretty proud of the way Christian and I are raising our kids. We aren't perfect, but we do the best we can and we like our kids (who also aren't perfect). But looking at those pictures at 1 day old, 1 week old, 1 month old Sam, I had never lost my temper. I had never dropped the ball. I had never grabbed him by the arm angrily. Now I've done all those things to all my kids—nothing too serious. I don't abuse them. But, you know.
Of course, I'm not done yet! It's not like Sam is out of the woods. I'm still pretty hardcore into parenting. It's not over when they start feeding themselves.
I made the kids look at photo albums with me. They laughed out loud at some of the pictures of me and their grandparents and aunts, which surprised me because it's only been 16 years. Let's just say I forgot how into shopping at the Eddie Bauer Outlet Christian and I were. Also, there are pictures where Sam and I are both wearing overalls. I don't think babies even wear overalls anymore.