Jan. 1, 2006 isn't just New Year's Day. It's also the tenth anniversary of the day I became a mom. Yes, that's right. My firstborn child is ten years old today. As a result I'm feeling just a bit
tagged me with the "ten weird, random facts about yourself" meme. I think instead I'm going to list ten things I've learned in the last ten years. Martha, I hope you don't mind.1. My parents love me more than I love them.
I realized this instantly in the very first second that I gazed upon my newborn child's face. There is no way this child could possibly love me as much as I love him. The nature of the mother's love for her child is very different from the love the child feels for its mother. It's a biological fact that the child's job is to grow away from the mother, whereas it's the mother's job to make sure that child grows up safely.2. It's hard to become a mother, even when you want nothing more.
Joey was a wanted child, a planned pregnancy. I was 29 years old when he was born, and I and my husband were very ready to start a family. Conception was effortless. Pregnancy was nine months of dreamy delight. Even so, I remember throughout that first year of motherhood, and after, I would frequently give myself mental "pinches," trying to make myself comprehend that this was not a dream, not a babysitting job, but something forever and ever. The word "irrevocable" kept popping into my mind. Eventually I did get used to the idea, and it's been a long time since I last thought "I can't believe this is me!"
as I push the stroller or go to the PTO meeting. But it took a good long while.3. Don't be judgmental about other parents.
I mean the other parents you see at the playground or the grocery store, the impatient, ineffective parents with the rude, whiny, obnoxious kids. Before I had kids of my own I was all eye-rolling and sheesh!
I knew my
kids would never . . . !4. If you must have expectations at all, keep them low.
I learned this by accident. Although I always knew I wanted kids, I never particularly wanted babies or toddlers. I wanted school-aged kids. I expected those early years to be dismal. I planned to just grit my teeth and get through them somehow while waiting for the real fun to start once they got to be five or so. And you know what? My expectations were so low that I could only be pleasantly surprised. The pleasure of the cute and happy baby times was magnified tenfold because I honestly didn't expect them.5. Keeping expectations low is easier said than done.
This is one I really struggle over. I try not to be ego-involved with my children, not to gloat over their successes or dwell on their failures as a reflection of myself. I try to avoid power struggles, use "logical consequences," and teach my kids to be responsible for their own behavior not only because it's good for them
, but also because those strategies remind me not to take things so personally.6. Dress for success.
This is a parenting strategy I made up all by myself. On those really really
bad days, when the toddler is sick and cranky, and you're premenstrual and sleep-deprived, and you've been indoors all week because of the pouring rain? Dress up your kids in their VERY CUTEST clothes. That way you'll be able to stand the sight of them.7. This might just be a rationalization, but I'm pretty sure it's okay to be a little selfish.
I believe that Mommy has to be as sane as possible in order to do a good job. In my case, that means spending as much time doing my own thing -- away from my kids -- as possible. And I go to great lengths to get away from my kids, even if it's just disappearing to the bathroom with a book. I can NOT give all of myself to my kids, which is why I do not consider myself an attachment parent. I could not be with my kids all day long and then sleep with them at night, for example. I need a little separation. And I believe that's best for my kids. Not that separation per se
is best, but a sane mommy surely is.8. Perfect communication between two human beings is possible.
Joey's mind works just like mine. It's really uncanny. I always know what he's thinking. I interrupt him all the time because I know
what he's going to say. This can be frustrating. We are so much alike that we push each others' buttons in ways that no one else can. But it's also reassuring. In some ways, I will never have to worry about him. And at times, during some conversations, it's simply amazing. I do believe there are times when we achieve perfect communication.9. Having a child changed my perspective on everything.
It also turned me into a sentimental fool. I never used to cry. Ever. Now anything having remotely to do with parents, children, life, death, sickness, health, infancy, old age, you name it . . . turns me into a puddle of tears.10. I'm the luckiest woman in the world.