Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Musings on motherhood

When I was growing up, I never really visualized myself as a mother. As I got older, I didn't really know what to do with children. I babysat occasionally, and I schlepped my cousin (10 years younger) and her little friends around in the summers when I was home from college or law school, but I never really felt like I had much maternal instinct. I remember one visit home during law school, after one of my cousins had had her first baby, and I was holding my new little cousin. My mother looked at me and said, "You look so uncomfortable holding that baby!" I said, "Mama, I'm a law student, what do I know about babies?!" That pretty much summed it up.

Some 13 or 14 years later, all that has changed. My son is the most magnificent creature in the world. I adore him and would lay down my life for him. When he was born, he weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces. Within the first week, he'd lost almost a pound of that weight and was diagnosed as failing to thrive. I'd tried to breastfeed and didn't realize that I had no milk. I so wanted to breastfeed, but had I known I was literally starving my child, I'd have tossed the idea in a second and gone straight to the bottle without a thought. He was like a different child once he started getting some nourishment! I tried to pump and breastfeed and just supplement with the bottle, but the milk wasn't there, so before I returned to work, he was strictly on formula. I cried some, anguished some over it, but when it came down to it, the important thing was that he was eating.

But I digress. My little man made up for lost time, ate like a trucker (to quote my sister), and is now, at almost 28 months old, 37 inches tall and 37 pounds. Mommy's little moose. :) Two more feet and he'll be as tall as I am! I cherish him. I think I'm in danger of becoming one of those mothers that devotes too much time to her child and doesn't take enough for herself. Tonight when J got ready for bath time, he took my dinner plate and said, "mommy finished, bath time!" LOL So off to the bath we went (hey, I figure dinner can wait, my son might change his mind about being ready for bath and bed!).

But now, she of virtually no recognizable maternal instinct seems to overflow with it. I wake up if my son coughs. I hear him turn over in his sleep. I know without looking when he's standing up on the furniture and about to fall over the side. I can change a diaper at 3 AM without turning any lights on. I can carry fourteen different things in addition to my child without dropping anything. I invariably find toy trucks in my pockets when I get to work. And hearing him say "MY mommy!" just lights up my whole day. And his little friends at daycare flock to me, which baffles me no end. One time one of his little friends ran up to me, hugged my leg, and said, "Mama!" J looked at him like, who do you think you are, hugging on *my* mama like that? LOL I can't imagine life without him, even though at one time I figured I'd never have children, never get married, just be a career woman.

Yep, he's a lot of work, and we make lots and lots of messes (which he now points to and says, "Mess? Cleam up?" That's right, cleam up, not clean up), and I do lots and lots of laundry, and have no doubt lost more sleep the past two years than I care to contemplate. But sticky-fingered hugs, big toothy grins, requests for "some mo' milk", playing trucks, singing silly songs, and reading bedtime stories more than make up for the trials of parenthood. He's my sweet baby boy, that's for sure.

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