Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Eve of my Journey into Motherhood.

I'm celebrating tonight and I don't feel awkward or self conscious posting it.  Six years ago, I was huge and uncomfortable, but life was still pretty easy.  If I didn't want to eat lunch, I didn't.  My fingers had never touched human poo.  I could go to a movie whenever I wanted to.  If I had a headache, I could sleep all day until it went away.  I could make chili as spicy as I wanted to.  I had disposable income.  I was an expert in my own life.  At 10 p.m., a whopping contraction was about to change all of that.
When I got pregnant, I spent 9 months telling everyone I had no clue what I was doing.  I didn't.  I spent the first three months with a baby that didn't want to be outside the womb. I'm guessing that if I thought I knew what to do with a normal newborn, Cooper was there to prove me wrong.  I'm grateful that I had no clue.  Life was a tad easier during a difficult period.  He was fed, cleaned, and swaddled a lot.  I figured out how to do those basics.  I never figured out how to stop his crying, I just figured out how to live with it.  
But on the eve of my Motherhood anniversary (Hallmark should make a card), I still don't know what I'm doing.  I'll be honest because I think that helps.  I probably should be doing more to potty-train my youngest.  My oldest is late entering organized sports.  I don't read to my youngest as much as what I did with Cooper.  Sometimes I laugh when I shouldn't.  I'm carrying a three year-old when I vowed to never do it.  I lose my temper more often than I'd like.  Right now, they're on the computer when we all should be playing together.  None of these things will shatter our world.  In six years, I've learned that motherhood is hard and sometimes completely overrated.  Why make it harder by being an expert?  Children are so unpredictable and different, I don't understand how anyone can claim that title even for your own family.  I'd rather be a beginner at Motherhood.
Maybe that's my current key to life: to always be a beginner.  You can't fall far when you admit that you have the basic knowledge of a job.  I know the basics.  Seatbelts.  Give them good food most of the time.  Make sure they sleep at some point.  And teach the Golden Rule.  My kids are happy and healthy.  Sometimes they say, "Please" and "Thank you" without be prompted.  They hug each other when we do pick-ups.  They won't spit food out at the table if they hate it.  They'll choke it down and won't take another bite.  Our parenting accomplished those actions, but I still really have no idea how to do this job.  
I also don't think calling myself a Beginner is code for Slacker.  To me, a beginner looks at all aspects of tasks.  I'll listen to all the advice you want to give me.  If I don't take it, don't be offended.  I know it won't work for our family.  I'm not completely clueless.  And if we're talking and I give you advice, I'm not saying you're a bad mom.  I've been on this path.  Maybe I've been on it longer.  Maybe I've got something that might just work for you.  Maybe I'm not completely clueless.  Maybe I think a community of ideas is much stronger than one ridged concept.  But don't take it as a motherhood gospel.  I wouldn't.   And I won't be offended.  You know what works for your family, but maybe off-road it a bit & see if it works before squashing things.  I've done things I never thought I would and it works.  But if you think I'm a Slacker, that's fine.  In the past 6 years, I've learned something I should have already known: Women like to judge.  And mothers judge more because the sake of their own parenting depends on the fact that they are right.  My parenting or self-worth doesn't depend on being right.  My parenting depends on giving my children the tools to be happy and independent.  And I'll admit I'm wrong to accomplish that.      
One of those things I was able to be and do 6 years ago is back.  I'm back to being an expert about myself.  After a road of full of doubt, I know me again.  And what I've learned is I'm not an expert in anything but myself.  I know what I like and how to deal with stuff I don't.  I know that my life is about dealing with change and I'll even do some changing.  But I'm not an expert on my spouse, my children, or anything else but me.   I might know how to deal with them better than a stranger would, but they keep me on my toes all too often.  I wish I could go back to have poo virgin hands, but that's asking for too much.

Here's to many more years as a beginner.  Because I'm guessing all this knowledge I've acquired isn't going to do shit when the kids are teenagers.  It will mean nothing when they're adults.  No use in trying to be an expert.



  1. you and Keli are on the same wavelength today about motherhood...
    And something I learned in my yoga training had alot to say about always going into a situation as if for the first time, with fresh ideas and ways to handle what ever is that is infront of you. I think you are on to sometihng when you say to apply that to motherhood.

  2. Amen, sister.

    I will try to remember that I am just a beginner the next time I beat myself up. I will also try to remember this when I hear other mothers making "we always" or "I'll never" kind of statements. Chuckle. Chuckle.

    Happy mom-iversary to you!

  3. I've been thinking about these topics a lot lately, so her post forced me to put them down. She's inspiring as always!

  4. When he's a teenager, I'll tell you the same thing I told you when he was crying all day and all night, "You'll love him eventually." There are days when motherhood sucks and days that you couldn't pay me to do a single thing differently. Any person who claims to be an expert might be really, really good at one thing . . . but truthfully, I'd rather be an avid-learner. Enjoy tonight . . . but relish tomorrow!

  5. I would like to say that you took the words right out of my mouth and heart. Amen and amen. Mine are 11 and 8 and every year that goes by I realize I know less than I thought.
    Didn't connect you as the "erika" in PI. But now it makes sense. I love your pictures there and I love them here and on flickr.
    Glad I "found" your blog.

  6. there is a reason i emailed jill and bought her yarn (which I am still knitting into a godforsaken skirt at this very moment) way back when, 4 years ago when i was on bedrest with my boys. i 'met' her and then i met you and then it took me awhile to realize her twins were not reallt named betty and veronika (not so quick on the uptake) but not long to realize that i liked the both of you.

    this post says a lot. it says pretty much says all that i know of this here thing called motherhood. it also makes me wish for whole chunks of continent to not be in the way of meeting up. it feels nice to read this and know that i am not alone. i'll be a beginner with you any day, love. and happy 6th year with your boy. from all that i have seen here, your beginning has brought great joy to you and yours. xo,a

  7. I really LOVED reading this post. Thanks for sharing your heart!

  8. i am so so glad you posted this. because i feel the same exact way, of course. we were on the same wavelength!! but it's always good to read it from someone else's perspective, and you really nailed it down. so awesome. xo