Ever since Parent Bloggers Network announced their blog blast for Mother's Day I have been pondering what it is that makes me a Mom. At work, playing with the kids, cooking dinner, in traffic, laying in bed I've been thinking about my Mom-ness.
The first thought that comes to mind is the day my first daughter was born. I'd felt awful for weeks and attributed it to heartburn (and later found out it was HELLP syndrome). I'd suffered through daily finger sticks because of gestational diabetes. I got a call from one of the doctor's in my OB practice who said in a semi-concerned voice, we'd like you to come to the hospital to repeat some blood work, it would be good to pack your things, you might be staying. I mean, I knew it was coming, I desperately wanted to not be pregnant and not feel like hell but I was scared. Sure enough they kept me, they gave me an epidural that didn't work, they broke my water when I was 1 cm to try and get things moving, they started the mag sulfate that made me feel even worse, my husband slept while I suffered, the nice nurse left, then dawn broke, the epidural was fixed and the new OB on duty said you are having this baby NOW and 17 minutes later she joined this world. Tiny and perfect. Hearing that cry welcomed me to Mom-ness. Suffering through that first night alone in L&D still being pumped full of drugs to keep my blood pressure under control knowing that no matter how bad I felt *I* was responsible for this little life was a real eye opening experience and believe me, it was ALL I could do to keep my eyes opens. I remember being terrified to say anything to anyone because they might take her away but I couldn't believe they kept leaving her with me to nurse. I could barely hold up my own head. But I did it, there was a determination there that I'd never, ever felt before. What an introduction to the sleepless nights, worrying if the baby was breathing, worrying whether the baby was eating, worrying if the baby was pooping, worrying about the vaccinations, worrying if I was doing anything right, worrying that my parents were going to leave (and to think I'd worried that they were coming to stay for a week) and lots of worrying about going back to work. That determination, responsibility and worry all have a name-unconditional love.
We lived through infant hood--twice (well Gman gets a big gold star for living through it FOUR times)! The story I often relay about when I *really* knew I was a Mom is story of the movie, the vomit and the poncho. Boobah was a little less than two years old and I was blessedly inexperienced of taking care of sick kids. Gman once went seven years without missing a day of work because he was sick, thankfully the girls inherited his immune system--we've been asked more than once at the pediatrician's office--she goes to daycare?--when they see the very, very thin chart. She had been throwing up on and off during the week but had been 36 hours vomit free when we decided it was safe to take her to the movies with friends--her first. We get to the movies with our friends and their three young girls stair stepped between ours. We sat in the front row of the back section. Lots of room for the kids to roam if needed and room to park the stroller. I thought the fact that Boobah curling up on my lap was a good sign, maybe she'd fall asleep in my lap and I could enjoy the movie--Robots--if I remember correctly. About 3 minutes later, all hell or rather lunch, broke loose. Boobah sat up and spewed toxic waste. My pre-Mom instinct to get the hell out of the way had vanished. I did the Mom-ly thing and caught the vile red tinged chunks (because my children only puke pizza, spaghetti sauce or other tomato based products) in her little purple poncho. Those are Mom instincts pure and simple, you can't be taught that it just suddenly comes out of you born from unconditional love!
So I guess what makes me a Mom is the overwhelming sense of responsibility for everything about this little person who can't do anything for themselves. The responsibility to teach them, the keep them safe, to nourish their body and soul. And for me that comes with worry--is this babysitter good enough, will that preschool be okay, what is me going to work doing to the, do they watch too much TV, where the heck did they learn to pole dance and what will people think of THAT? As they grow the shades of responsibility change but its still about food, safety and making their way in the world. The worry changes a bit too, its not so much about what I am doing its more about what are they going to do. The other part of motherhood that has blown me away is unconsciousness of putting someone else first. Would I catch vomit by choice--no. For my kid, there was no thought, I just did it. There are lots of things that I way over think but when I just let the instincts take over I am a better Mom for all of us. I like to think of it as just letting the love do its job.
My final thought on what makes me a Mom, all the stuff I learned from the Moms who came before me and the Moms who are sharing Mom-ness with me now. I come from a long line of old ladies. I lost three great-grandmothers since 2000 they were 96, 98 and 101 and I have good memories of each of them. They endured a lot and overcame it to share their experience with three generations. My grandmothers both turned 80 in the last 4 months and are phenomenal women. They are as different as day and night and from that I've learned lots of lessons about who I want to be as a Mom and a Grandma and maybe more importantly who I don't. My mother is a force unto the universe. A working Mom role model when most Moms didn't work. I am surrounded by wonderful Moms of my generation who teach me new stuff, make me think and in the process make me a better Mom. We are teaching each other to be a Mom in a time and a place that is so different from the one we grew up in. I feel privileged to share with them in real life and in world wide web.
Tag, you are it. Join in the blog blast sponsored by Light Iris and Parent Bloggers Network and grab your chance to win a $100 Spa Finder gift certificate. Just post about what makes YOU a Mom. Send a link to your post to firstname.lastname@example.org for your chance to win.