Only those who look with the eyes of children can lose themselves in the object of their wonder.

12 Aug

Someone asked me in an email if I found being the mom of “A kid” weird.

I do, kind of. It’s odd after years of haunting the baby aisles to know that I don’t need to anymore. New bottles appear. Cute outfits come and go. I find myself crawling up the store into new areas, legs stretching to find where my oldest daughter now fits. I mourn silently the baby time I have lost. It’s a new place this type of motherhood.

As a new mother, you wander streets and malls with the same tired eyes, floppy deflated bread tummy, hopeful grin. You meet the eyes of other first timers, and share a moment of wonder, a look that says in one second “I know exactly what you’re going through, and it sucks but we’ll get through it” like the baby confers ESP. You pass along coupons in the diaper aisle, recommend wipes and new ideas for stimulating play. You have something to day. You’re scared and excited, all at once, and you’re young. Oh so very young, fresh.

Now I look at new mother’s and wonder if I was ever that young and fragile looking, that tired and washed up. I’m a soldier on her 2 tour surveying the fresh troops. I envy them the knowledge they don’t have-the newness awaiting them. But I don’t envy the fear, or the lonliness, or the long days and nights of nothing working and nothing good to say.

Today, the mother of a “kid” and a toddler turning into a preschooler, I hardly recognize myself in them. It’s only been 4 years, and I marvel at this. 4 years have changed me so utterly, altered my being and my sense of space in so many ways. 4 years have matured me in ways impossible without children. I have become responsible not just for another life, but for another person. Who they become, the values they hold, how they treat others, that is MY doing. Which is why I’m now just as terrified as a new mother. I can break them in such subtle ways now. In hindsight, cuddling a baby for hours to help them sleep is a breeze compared to talking down a “kid” having a meltdown while the toddler decides to join the fun. It’s hard work to be understanding and calm some-days.

I’m not my mother-I’m something else entirely. I’m my own person. My girls clamber for me-last night, after the excitement of the day, they wouldn’t go to sleep, and Rosalyn needed a few moments of Mommy alone. And with her head tucked under my chin as we watched Dirty Jobs (ooh! Alpaca’s!) I remembered how fleeting my girls are, how nearly invisible they are in the long span of time. Today they play hide and seek and pretend. Tomorrow they might be choosing a trade or backpacking through South America.

It’s all new once again. And I’m glad. I could use a spit shine.

5 Responses to “Only those who look with the eyes of children can lose themselves in the object of their wonder.”

  1. sweetsalty kate August 12, 2007 at 8:03 am #

    What a great post…

  2. marcelarhodus August 12, 2007 at 9:39 am #

    so true everything you said… you’re growing as a mother along with them, and each step is a different challenge, sometimes easier sometimes harder than the one before. Like that line from “Anne of Green Gables” ~ Tomorrow is a brand new day, with no mistakes in it ~ We get a change every day to start with no mistakes and do our best, sometimes we get there, sometimes we don’t, but we’re definetely being the best mothers we can, each and every single day.

    You are a wonderful writer…

  3. nell August 12, 2007 at 10:22 am #

    Sigh. Yeah. It’s really weird that Tilly will be in Kindergarten in a few week. In a real school, with other kids who do other things. I’m half excited and half kind of freaked out by it. But, it is what it is, and you’re right, change is good.

  4. mamaloo, the doula August 12, 2007 at 10:59 am #

    Kieran will also be in school in a few weeks and it freaks me out completely. I can’t believe I have a four year old – one who has such a specific personality. I keep looking at him and seeing his teenaged self which wasn’t so evident when he was younger.

    Right now I have the new baby and I’m full of guilt that I can’t give Kieran even a tenth of the attention I used to give him. He has taken to kissing me on the arm dozens of times a day (I’m often nursing or working with the new baby somehow and unable to give big cuddly hugs) and shouting out “Mom, I like you” as often. I hope having a second child makes me a better mother and a better person.

    I was also watching Dirty Jobs last night! Mike Rowe spinning alpaca! I’m in love!

  5. pluckymama August 12, 2007 at 12:28 pm #

    soon you’ll have teenagers and be looking at people who are just like you now. I always look at first time mom’s too and know just what they’re feeling. I still feel like a first time mom even though I have two. They’re just so young. Good post.

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