Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The "New" Me

My oldest daughter turns ten today. It occurred to me that, while this is a milestone for her, it’s one for me, too, and thus an appropriate time for some reflection.

I’m one of those moms who really focuses on her kids and I make no apology for it. I buy second-hand everything and skip vacations and restaurants and comforts so I can stay home. I breastfed for more than eight years. I play. I let my kids make crazy messes then make them clean it up, so they practice both creativity and responsibility. I drive for every field trip, go to every school party. I hang art done in crayon on my walls.

The funny thing is, none of that is what I intended to be.

I was a workaholic. My goal was to be an award-winning educator and to rack up multiple advanced degrees. When trying to get pregnant, I decided I needed a little less stress and work in my life, so I took a different full-time job, got a part-time job, and started grad school. When pregnant, I thought breastfeeding sounded nice, and hoped I’d be successful, but I knew there was no way I could commit to more than a year – I wanted my body back. I remember throwing the baby book across the room in frustration at the idea of being a stay-at-home mom. It sounded great, but we couldn’t afford it. Perhaps most telling of all, I once begged my husband to promise that he would never love any children we had more than he loved me.

And then she was born. Perfect. Beautiful. She had deep brown eyes with a blue ring around the iris and those eyes told me she was ageless and wise and mine. She had monkey fur on her shoulders and ears and dark hair and dark skin and she was a she and she cried and it was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard.

The nurses took her from me to clean her and suction her and assign her an Apgar, while other nurses attended to me and the part of birth no one cares about. And I said to my husband, “Go with her!” He went, and so did my heart. Nothing has been the same since, and I am so glad.

I love you, Eleanor.