Friday, May 29, 2009

On Being the Mommy

When I was a kid, I believed that my mother LOVED being the mommy. She seemed happy, peaceful, calm. She kissed our boo-boos and celebrated our victories, no matter how small; she had the wisdom we needed when we needed it; she knew how to balance the everyday activities with a few great adventures; she and Daddy always had time and energy for us without teaching us to think the world revolved around us. 

In short, she did her job brilliantly (as Dad did his, but this blog is about being the mommy). And I believed she loved every minute of it.

Now I believe that she loved *almost* every minute of it. (She has confirmed that this is true.)

Being the mommy is hard...and I've only been the mommy for three-and-a-half weeks. After a particularly long day this week, I sought the advice of two friends who are great moms and wise women. Am I ill-suited for this job, I asked in my email, or have you too felt overwhelmed and exhausted and totally thrilled--all at once? Maybe I'm a nut case. Or maybe I'm a typical new mom.

One of them confessed to crying for hours non-stop the first few weeks of her son's life because she couldn't console him or entertain him. She didn't know what to do and was pretty sure that she was going to be a total disaster of a mother. The other one guessed that at the end of the day, when Jason walks in the door, sometimes I want to throw Hadley into his arms and run. "That does NOT make you a bad mommy," she wrote. "It makes you normal."

So it turns out that at the very least, three of us on this planet have felt this strange combination of utter exhilaration and sheer exhaustion. Just knowing that I am not alone in this experience somehow made it a little easier. Even if I'm a nut job, I have company.

With my friends' help--and some much-needed soul-searching--I've realized that I can love Hadley wildly and deeply, and I can love being her mom, but I don't have to love every task related to being a mom. For example, I'd trade middle-of-the-night feedings for a sack of moldy pickles any day of the week. Because moldy pickles don't poop while nursing. In my bed. At 2 a.m.

Truth is, I shouldn't be surprised that this experience is difficult. When I think of the things in my life that are most rewarding and true and good--my faith, my marriage, my family, my close friendships, my years at Davidson--I see that they are also the things that require(d) the most time and energy and commitment.

So I've resolved to cut myself some slack. Hadley is a content, healthy, expressive, funny baby. We'll have good days and bad days, and that's okay.

But I do hope that Hadley grows up believing that her mommy loved every minute of being a least until she has babies of her own. When she calls to ask if, when she was a newborn, I felt this crazy combination of utter exhilaration and sheer exhaustion, I'll show her this post. "Yes, Hadley," I'll say. "You're not a nut job. You're the mommy."

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