Last weekend I went to my first baby shower in many moons…. ever since I said “goodnight moon” to breeding some 15 years ago.
The mom-to-be is in her ninth month; as I watched her drape tiny onesies, precious caps, baby gangstah hoodies, miniature t-shirts and wee shorts over her built-in clothes rack belly, I couldn’t help but let out a few involuntary gasps.
Not because the of wardrobe — although who knew that giraffes were the gender-neutral IT creature of the infant set nowadays? — but because of all the amazing things my mommy-to-be friend has to look forward to:
- That feeling you get when you hold that previous tiny bundle in your hands for the first time and are hit by a zillion pound realization that NOTHING will ever be the same.
- The first feeding, when “doing what comes natural” and breastfeeding is actually not all that natural, it turns out. Nor is almost anything maternal that you thought you knew. Much like Jon Snow, your little Wildling is proof positive that you know nothing.
- Being annoyed in the hospital by the nurses waking you once or twice during the night to feed your newborn… only to realize once you get home that was the last good night’s sleep you had… ever again. Or at least it’ll feel that way.
- Getting into a routine with the baby, which not only takes time but is also at the expense of all other routines — work, “alone time” with your partner, hanging out with your friends, your personal hygiene regime, your workouts, getting back into your non-maternity wear and well, everything.
- Projectile poop. It’s a rite of passage, y’all.
- The feeling that the only book you’ll finish reading ever again is the aforementioned Good Night, Moon. Even Dr. Seuss feels like heavy lifting in the early days. And forget that stack of magazines, newspapers and your own books, too. Your “mommy brain” is a combo platter of sleep deprivation, abject terror from looking up everything in the What to Expect… books and hormones. For all those aspiring dictators out there, if you could bottle the essence of mommy brain, you would NEVER be challenged because nobody would ever be able to read, think or effectively function other than burping, changing diapers, rocking and pacing around in circles with the ultimate goal of getting to nap time.
The list could easily go on, but the point is this: the initiation into motherhood has NOTHING to do with taking baby steps. It is all about a magnificent yet terrifying leap from the Mountain of Self into a deep, endless Sea of We. (Sea of Wee?)
For the first few years, things are a total blur. For example, one time in a total sleep deprived haze at a kiddie concert in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, I can remember begging my mother-in-law to promise me that things would get easier.
She smiled, knowingly, and said, “I’ll raise you one — not only is it easier, you’ll barely remember this. So stay present and enjoy it.”
As I recall, I was busy wiping sour milk spit-up from the last clean shirt I had and her sage words seemed fully insane and also ironic.
Cut to today, where I recently was organizing old photos and realized that I had no good way to say exactly how old my kids were in most photos, nor could I remember where we were or what we were doing in so many of the shots.
Which made my mother-in-law’s words that much more prescient — and super ironic because that conversation was one of few distinct memories from my kids’ early childhoods.
My bitches, it’s hard to know where the time goes.
And then one day you wake up and realize that your kids are pretty much self-sufficient. They have their own friends, their own plans, their own wheels, their own cash, and well, their own lives.
This has been a very heavy trip for me, and I’m guessing it is (or will be) for you, too.
My choice — and I am SO LUCKY to have this choice — has always been the fuzzy gray area between full-on career woman and at-home mom. It has been a source of enormous joy and also deep frustration at times; and it’s only recently that I feel my kids are ready for me to start getting back full-time to kicking ass and taking prisoners.
That I’m ready to fully get that ass-kicking, prisoner-taking career woman show back on the road.
The Monday after the baby shower I have to say things were really looking up. My new content marketing biz, It’s the TruStory, is officially launched, and I just got word that Copyblogger has approved me as a Certified Content Marketer. I had several inquiries on throughout the day from potential clients, and the groove was starting to feel, well, groovy.
The icing on the cake was that the Kickstarter campaign for the short film, HOME IS WHERE THE PARK IS, which is adapted from a 10-minute play I wrote, was going along swimmingly. (To ALL who have backed it, THANK YOU AGAIN!!! Together we can create beautiful things =)
Around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, I was awakened from a deep slumber to the sound of a child screaming, “Mommy!”
Having plenty of training over the last decade and a half in the various permutations of bodily fluids, I knew instinctively it was a bile-driven yelp, and sure enough, almost crashed into my daughter as she flew into the bathroom.
Within a few minutes, my intuition told me this was no ordinary flu bug. An unusual pain that sounded like heartburn was searing its way from my daughter’s belly into her chest. It was so vicious that it made her cry.
And not just an ordinary bawl, either. You know that cry when the kid is really hurting, and it looks like a Godzilla flick where the beast opens its mouth and there’s a horrendous pause before the actual sound comes out?
Yup, it was that one.
Before you could say “Goodnight, moon,” we’d made our way to the ER. All that muscle memory of being kept awake in the wee hours came flooding back, although this time I was filled with adrenalin vs. breast milk. (Less nutritious, far less delicious.) And although she was discharged after just a few hours, it was clear by midday the following day that all was still not well… so back to the hospital it was.
The ensuing days in the pediatric ward were nerve-wracking, nail-biting, and in a strange way, sorta fun (I’ll take my mother-daughter bonding time where I can get it! Although next time make my overnights at the Ritz…)
That the room we were assigned to had a giant giraffe painted over my daughter’s bed gave me comfort and convinced me that not only are giraffes this year’s gender-neutral “IT” creatures, they’re also kick ass, lucky spirit animals for moms and babies of all ages.
And so while we did get to the bottom of things and the awesome news is she’s on the mend, the ultimate diagnosis was this:
EVERY step a woman takes from the time she gives birth until her last step will be a baby step. It may involve tremendous accomplishments, huge successes, and incredibly satisfying strides ahead on her path to self-realization, but when crisis hits, every baby wants his or her mommy. And so we step right back into the role that we chose all those years ago.
And that, my bitches, is why we get cards and meals and flowers and presents on Mother’s Day. We earn that shit over and over with some serious blood, sweat and tears.
So if you see me fighting back the water works at a baby shower, just know that it’s a mom’s right to get the feels any damn time she wants. After all, the struggle – and the snuggle – is real. (I’m just quoting the best onesie I saw, ya’ll!)
Happy Mother’s Day, my bitches!