Wednesday, September 13, 2006

For Better or for Worse-- I'm Back!

I don't know if my writing mojo is gone now that I am on the mommy track. We will call this the "grand experiment." Am I still funny? Do I still have "important" things to say? Am I still opinionated? Can I spell any more (not that I was really all that great at it before)? Can I put words together that formulate a sentence that makes a lick of sense? To keep you coming back, I promise to pepper my faulty prose with cute pictures of Miss Emma. I have entitled the one to the left "Daddy's Girl." Look at that face!

I came a bit late to this motherhood business. Not super late. I'm not like that French woman who had that baby at 60-something (she was, however, my role model for a while). Just late enough that my mother said, "It's about time," when I told her Brad and I were expecting. To be truthful, I was scared of motherhood. I was scared that somehow as the baby was pushed out of my body, so would my identity, my soul--that all of the other aspects of me would disappear and I would become a MOTHER. Plus, it seems that I have heard a lot of bad pregnancy, bad birth, and bad early baby years' stories.

I approached motherhood like I approach most new aspects of my life--I feverishly, from the moment the dipstick sported a plus sign, began reading and studying about birth and motherhood. The last month of my pregnancy my "nesting instinct" did not encourage me to clean the house from top to bottom. It encouraged me to clandestinely watch every show about birth and child rearing on the Discovery Channel and TLC. ("Clandestinely" because Brad was horrified when he came in to the family room to catch me watching "The Baby Without a Face.") Because of my research, I was prepared for every grisly event that might happen. I was ready to have a baby with birth defects, to have my body ripped apart, to have a baby who never slept, to hate my husband, to hate my life, to be so tired my eyes bled, to be overwhelmed-- you get the picture.

What I was not prepared for, however, was the joy. I guess it makes sense that motherhood is joyful--I mean, why would people do it multiple times if it were not? But I wasn't prepared for how I felt when I held Emma for the first time, how I felt when I brought her into our house, how I felt the first time I sang to her as I rocked her, how I felt when she truly smiled at me for the first time. Sure, it's scary being a parent (each time she coughs, I am sure she has Tuberculosis), but the joy, the pure joy--Wow!!

I truly did not care that first month whether I would ever sleep again; as long as I had my baby in my arms, I felt strangely complete and at ease. I don't really remember feeling tired; I was exhilarated. She was just so beautiful (and she still is). I could stare contently at her for hours, and I did (and do). Of course, with the second month came the tiredness, but for me, that first month was blissful. I adored her, and she seemed to adore me. I jumped into this motherhood business, and instead of feeling constrained, I felt complete-- like a part of me that wasn't there before was now there.


Beverly Choate Dowdy said...

I had the same experience-starting this project a little older than some and being most surprised by the absolute joy of having a child.

I remember Jane Pauley (she used to be a host on the Today show, in case you are too YOUNG to know) reporting a study that had been done among women who had children when they were "mature" and their single biggest surprise--how much fun it was to have a baby...

I miss you all three now. I hate to be away because everyone's life changes and I have to miss it all.

I love you and your family.


B. S. Denton said...

You write better than Joyce. It's just one of the many things I love you for. I love you both, actually. You and the faceless one.