Friday, November 17, 2006

Being a Mom

A good friend passed this along to me today...It is really great and true.
Although many of us are not at this stage in life yet it is happening everyday. I fell like I woke up one morning and Emma was a big girl. She wants zero help...This someday is going to be Tatum too. I am not letting the WS put our life on hold as nothing should. I am sure our parents are going to really relate to this poem now just like we slowly are...I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thanks for sharing Heather I thank God all the time our kids are going to grow up together, just think soon enough we are going to sharing cocktails on the beach watching the kids play wondering where our babies went...

On Being Mom
by Anna Quindlen

If not for the photographs, I might have a hard time believing they
ever existed. The pensive infant with the swipe of dark bangs and the
blackbutton eyes of a Raggedy Andy doll. The placid baby with the
yellow ringlets and the high piping voice. The sturdy toddler with the
lower lip that curled into an apostrophe above her chin. ALL MY BABIES
are gone now.

I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction
in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one
closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have
learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of
them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke
and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to
keep their doors closed more than I like.

Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move
food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I
bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is
buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the
unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now.
Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling
rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education,
all grown obsolete.

Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are
battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the
pages dust would rise like memories.

What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the
playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations --what they
taught me was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all.
Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then
becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it
is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to
positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice
and a timeout. One boy is toilet trained at 3, his brother at 2.

When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on
his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit- up. By the time
my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of
research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this
ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing.

Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research
will follow.

I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful
books on child development, in which he describes three different
sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a
sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month-old who did not walk. Was there
something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong
with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically
challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he
goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk,too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes
were made. They have all been enshrined in the Remember-When-Mom-Did
Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language,
mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I
arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The
horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of
the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, What
did you get wrong? (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered
food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away
without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include
that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two

What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while
doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly
clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There
is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in
the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I
wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how
they sounded, andhow they looked when they slept that night. I wish I
had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner,
bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and
the getting it done a little less.

Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and
what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought
someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now
I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they
demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be.

The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and
I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound
up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more
than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books
never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts.

It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were...

1 comment:

Kerry said...

Thanks a lot, Lis. I already feel guilty enough when I tell Michael to get to bed without laying down with him or be a little relieved when he goes off with his friends so I can get stuff done around the house. So today when he gets off the bus early (12:30 for early day today) we will do what (gulp) he wants. Or at least what we BOTH want.

Seriously though, you do need to remember these things... my 8-yr-old was a baby just yesterday :(