9/28/09

From Zero to Five in 3.4 seconds

That first week when a mother returns home with her newborn she experiences a complete metamorphosis. Not only in physical stature, from round bellied pregnant beast to sagging marshmallow that somewhat resembles her past womanly shape. A mom becomes a mom in that first week. She retreats to her shuddered lair, changing diapers (both the baby's and her own), offering up every ounce of her self to this suckling infant and all the while wonders, "Will I ever leave my house again?" and "Will I ever take a shower?" and "Is breastfeeding my only hourly destiny?" or "Will this child ever let me put her down?" It's mommy boot camp. And her soul becomes willingly intertwined in this child's, and her intellect aligns in all things baby, she is a dumbed down, softened, selfless provider, and she becomes a mom.
After 12 months of mothering an infant, moms arrive at the finish line. They've retrained themselves to drink alcohol, they've weaned from breastfeeding, they've nearly eliminated night feedings and wake ups, and suddenly, like a light switched on, they look in the mirror and realize that they have neglected themselves for an entire year! WTF am I wearing???? Where the hell did my make up disappear to? How long has my gym membership been expired? I actually wore these jeans two years ago? What was I thinking?
Yep, the mothers of one year olds are like blossoming teenagers, discovering the usefulness of their newfound bumps and curves. WOW! I finally got my body back! Now, what can I put on it?
The following years are blissful and challenging, falling in love with your fiery toddler while mustering up the stamina to discipline them. Finding a bit of time to yourself, a new pair of shoes. And then comes preschool. For three years all you've asked for is a break! And now, you finally get one-to the tune of hundreds of dollars a month- and the first day of school you shed a tear ...and then you twiddle your thumbs for the next 3 hours while you wonder if your little angel is happy in there. By day two, you're wishing her school day was longer because three hours isn't nearly enough time to get to the grocery store and back again. And soon you increase her school week to three days. Then four. You sign her up for soccer and ballet. You upgrade from the fancy diaper bag to the fancy handbag. You are driving her all over town but you know that driving around is far better than staying at home with her. You already did that for an entire year!
Then baby number two arrives and you're back to square one, 12 more months of mommy boot camp+selflessness+driving around town looking lost and frumpy. Your leather handbag becomes a battered diaper bag. And then you blink and your oldest is off to kindergarten. And you're trying to keep up with her hectic schedule, her homework, remembering to pick your toddler up from preschool, and drive them both to soccer and ballet, and shower, and find your makeup, and instead of twiddling your thumbs or wishing for longer days, you're scrambling to figure out a way to breathe. And just as soon as you do, you're trying to find a way to get in that kindergarten classroom just to be with her. Wait a second. For five years you just needed a break and now that she's all settled in at her new school you want to be with her????
Yep, she doesn't need me anymore. And now I need her. She gets herself dressed, she talks on the phone, she goes to the potty all by herself. She even knows how to brush her own hair. She marches into her classroom and she knows the drill. She doesn't look back anymore when she says goodbye. She's walking away and I can see past her, all the way down her road to college. She's all grown up in one fast blink.
And I'm standing here, I finally have time for a shower and I can put on my makeup, I'm armed with a new wardrobe and a new found sense of myself, I renewed that gym membership, I got rid of the marshmallows, I got the break I asked for. But it's not how I expected it. It all happened too fast.

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