Since I’ve last posted I’ve been busy packing and organizing, selling and giving away our junk (and some not-junk), and trying to squeeze in last moments with my friends, all while living as a single parent. Let me tell you, I wouldn’t want to do the single parent thing for much longer than I have to! It’s hectic and tiring, especially since I can’t really develop a regular routine with everything that has to be done. There’s not much time for blogging as you’ve seen, when you’re a “single mom” to a future Texan. She inherited some state pride at the end of April, you know.
But I’ve been enjoying the challenge and there have been some great goings-on, too. Like my first Mother’s Day, which I spent just hanging out with Nora and getting ready to move.
The big highlight of our morning was Skyping with Dad, who hadn’t been able to see her since we left him in Nantucket. She’s really getting into Skype and seems to understand that it’s different from the passive act of watching TV (not that we do any TV watching around here). Then, I made some delicious ginger orange french toast for me and some scrambled egg for Nora (which I now know is a baby no-no – oops). We did laundry and cleaned the kitchen, taking plenty of breaks for playing and one very delicious cat nap curled up together in the afternoon sunbeams streaming in my bedroom window.
The day before, we went with my friend Marnie and her daughter Violet to the Gardiner Cupcake Festival, where we bumped into our doula, Liz, who was excited to see Nora but, as you can see, Nora was not excited to see her. It was that stranger thing again, combined with some super strong winds which did not make her very happy.
It was a nice little outing, though, which combined with my lazy Sunday made for a great first Mother’s day weekend.
The funny thing about Mother’s Day is that it’s often a day spent not doing normal mother things; going out for brunch to avoid cooking and dishes, being treated by dad and sometimes the kids, and oftentimes it’s seen as a reprieve. I wonder what that says about how women feel about their “motherly tasks” – if they want to spend their honorary day not doing any of them. I didn’t mind so much doing chores and hanging with my kiddo as if it were any other day (of course, I also happened to have a flask of Bacardi O to finish up from someone’s wedding…). But I suppose that’s one of my unique qualities: I think there is an art to homemaking and mothering, and I’m trying to master it.
I did spend a lot of time last week reflecting on the things I enjoy most about motherhood, so I thought I’d share them with you. (Sorry there aren’t more pictures to go with it, but there hasn’t been enough time!)
- The breath-taking experience that is watching a person develop out of, well, a turnip. This is my number one favorite thing about being a mother. Every time I look at Nora, I can’t help but be in awe of the fact I made her (from scratch!) and what an amazing little person she’s rapidly becoming. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again, because the change, on a near daily basis, is magical. (Not that cutting two top teeth at the same time is magical, but clapping, sure is.) And it really is different to be the parent, than to be the big sister or cousin or friend, and to be able to see each thing as it happens. Watching Nora develop really shines a whole different light on what life is.
- How complete and womanly I feel. Is it weird to say that? I used to joke that I wasn’t sure when I would become a “real grown-up” all through college and even afterward, through my pregnancy. Well, having Nora did it for me. I feel like I’ve fulfilled some really important thing that I’m supposed to do. I never really felt comfortable defining myself as a woman – as opposed to a girl – but now that I’m a mother and there’s no question in my mind…I AM WOMAN. I’m sure there’s some primal, evolutionary reason for this feeling, but whatever the reason I love it.
- I feel like I can do anything. Dude, I grew a human. And gave birth to her drug-free with only a 10 minute (or so) time-frame during which I questioned my ability to do so. And yes, I am bragging. There is something so incredibly empowering about taking control of the event and giving birth naturally; it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world and that I wish every mama could experience. If I can do that, I can do anything. Next time, bring on the home birth (and the video camera)!
- Nursing. Okay, I’ll admit it, I thought twice about this one. The first six weeks of breastfeeding sucked (no pun intended) and sometimes I do get more than a little tired of being the only means of sleep or comfort, especially when I have other things to do or she’s in a funk and wants to nurse all the time when I don’t really feel like it. But there are also these really amazing moments, like the first time she looked at me when nursing and realized that I was there, or how she rubs her face on my shoulder when I pick her up at the babysitter, or like mother’s day afternoon when we just laid on the bed together cuddling and nursing and that was all we both needed to be happy. It’s also part of that empowerment feeling, too: knowing that I’m providing something for her that no one else can and that I didn’t just completely sustain her for 9 months, but for 16. And I love that it allows me a break during the work day to stop and think about her as I pump. Let’s be realistic…I’m a task driven person; if I didn’t know that she was waiting for me to come feed her at lunch time, it’s very unlikely that I would stop everything and visit her every day, let alone have breaks built into the day to think about her at my desk. So yeah, there are parts of it that are really lame, but they are far overshadowed by the wonderful parts.
- The new friends that come with mommyhood. One survey out of England stated that “Motherhood Increases Friend Count by Eight.” I’ve certainly made a lot of friends that I wouldn’t have otherwise (you can’t go to prenatal yoga without a baby in your belly – at least not for very long). It’s nice to have people who are in the same place and have the same home-birth-breastfeeding-natural-parenting inclinations as I do. I love being able to discuss how Nora is going to nurse until she decides she’s done without getting funny looks and snide comments. I love being able to whip out the camera anywhere and everywhere without my friends thinking I’m weird. I love how much I’ve learned about birth and parenting from my friends. …Of course, I’m moving away next week, but I’m not worried about moving to a new place like I was when we made our trek from Texas. Now, I have the perfect plan to making friends: La Leche League. Of course, I’ll miss all of my friends here, but it’s nice to know that wherever I go, I’m already in “the club.”
- How much more connected I feel to Chris. Having Nora has made our relationship stronger. Without him, I wouldn’t have her. But, it’s more than just a “sperm-donor” thing. It’s wonderful to see the bits and pieces of us combined into her, but what’s really amazing is being able to co-parent. We have so many more things to negotiate in our future than we did before her, things that I couldn’t do alone – or with anyone else. I have a lot more respect for his views, wants and needs now; because, there is a lot more at stake and also because I see him in a whole different light. As much as I love being a mother, I love that he’s a father. Seeing him with Nora makes me love him in ways I never thought possible, as sappy as that sounds.
- Having strangers tell me how cute my baby is. This is totally superficial, but it’s true. I. Love. It. When strangers come up to me and tell me how cute Nora is, or point her out to whomever they’re with. It’s lame to say, I know, but we get comments everywhere we go from a lot of people. And if she’s in the sling – forget it – at least 80% of of the people we walk by will comment on it. The inner attention-seeker in me really enjoys it, and now that I know how wonderful it feels, I try to make more of an effort to compliment others, so that I can make their day too.