Sunday, May 12, 2013

My best Mother's Day yet

This is my 7th Mother’s Day since my mom died and my 3rd Mother’s Day since becoming a mom.  I spent 4 years avoiding Mother’s Day and trying really hard to not lose my shit while seeing anything regarding Mother’s Day.  After spending so long avoiding Mother’s Day, it really snuck up on me this year.  I had been so focused on Orion’s 2nd birthday and then was so exhausted after that I did not see it coming.  Last week I called to make brunch reservations, but my top 3 choices were already booked (this also happened last year and next year I will make the reservations early, like maybe next week). 

My mother and I at my Bridal shower August 2005

My first Mother’s Day was the most difficult ever since Orion wasn't even 2 weeks old. I was still recovering from a Cesarean section and adjusting to being a mom while missing my mother more than I had since her death. I wasn't sure I could be a mom without a mom.  While I was in labor and stuck at 3 centimeters for about 5 hours, I really wanted my mom. I remember crying for her and thinking there was no way I could give birth to this baby without her. That was when I asked for the epidural and soon after there was a tingly party inside my body and I relaxed.  I never progressed beyond 3 centimeters but at least I was feeling better, thanks drugs! 

about 2 weeks old

Those early days, I had so many questions I wanted to ask my mother that I had never thought to ask her while she was alive.  While she was living, kids were nowhere to be seen in my future.  Once I met Patrick, I thought that maybe I could have kids because I would have them with a man who would be the best dad ever.  But it wasn't until after her death that I really wanted to start trying to have kids but my health problems and eventual M.S. diagnosis put it off for a few years.

maybe 6 months old or so
almost 2!
Being a mom without a mom is one of the hardest things I have ever done especially after losing my father when Orion was only 6 weeks old.  I do not have them to call to complain/cry/question/wonder/brag about being Orion’s mom. I can’t talk to them about what I was like as a child to see if Orion is like I was as a baby.  I do wonder if I would be a better mom if I still had either of my parents to guide me through being a parent. I lost a piece of my history and part of my future self with their death. And Orion lost really incredibly awesome grandparents. I could always see my father as a grandfather but had a hard time picturing my mom as a grandmom.  My mother would have knitted the most adorable things for her grandchildren. I get jealous of other kid’s hand knitted things and it reminds me of a missing piece. 

It took me this past year to realize that what I do have really outweighs their absence.  I have all of the important things they gave me during their life.  I share the same sense of humor, fearlessness, honesty, and directness my mother had.  I can still hear her voice in my head telling me “what goes around, come around” and “shoulda, woulda, coulda”.  I have her example of doing kindness for people in need and caring for them. She showed me such strength which I only have a fraction of but what got me through some really difficult time. I am who I am because of my parent’s love for me.  My relationship with my mother was never perfect but it was ours and we honestly loved and respected each other.  My parents also instilled in me a deep love for enjoying books, music, and food which I am passing down to Orion.  He will never met them but he will know of my mother’s love for The Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger.

I am not a perfect mom and sometimes I get frustrated but I am always trying to do better. I am also trying to stop comparing my life to those around me and what I see portrayed in the media.  I see my life and home as perfect when it stands alone but when compared to others I see shadows of doubt that grow larger the longer I look. Since I cannot compare my current life of being a mom to the life of my mom, I look around me and see the life of other moms in my community and online.  Then I remind myself that what I see of their lives is only the tip of the iceberg and comparing each other is all apples and oranges.  Our commonality is that we are all moms trying to do the best for our children and our family and (hopefully) our community and world. 

Even though life is filled with so many conveniences these days, it seems harder than ever to be a parent.  There is so much information on what you should do and not do and how this thing will change your life and you really need 2 of these in case you lose one of them.  It is so overwhelming and super easy to get caught in a downward spiral of reading article after article instead of doing what is really important, like paying attention to your child and, oh, I don’t know, sleeping. It is so easy to question yourself and wonder if you are feeding your child the best food and avoiding all of the toxic chemicals that seem to be in everything.  I remember that PSA catch phrase “The More You Know” and it makes me think the more you know the more insane and agoraphobic you become.  So, I just take a breath and a break from the flood of information and advice and focus on what matters. I parent with my gut and my heart. If I give all my love to this wonderful, special boy, he will grow up to be a loving compassionate person and that is what I value most.

1st visit to the doctors office, not yet a week old
3 months old
 I think this will be my best Mother’s Day yet because I am so proud to be Orion’s mom and I am finally feeling confident as his mom.  I feel like I do deserve to celebrate being a mom and not just on Sunday.  We started our celebrations early on Friday.  We went to Family Meal in Fredrick for a delicious lunch and in the afternoon took a nice walk with the dogs and Orion on his Joovy.  We got a babysitter for Friday night so Patrick and I could go see Iron Man 3 (this was the second movie we have seen together in the theater since Orion was born and the first one at night).  Saturday I went to the movies alone to see The Great Gatsby, I love going to the movies alone in the middle of the day. Today we are having my dearest mom friend and Orion’s best buddy over for dinner. I let Patrick get up this morning and deal with Orion and the dogs while I laid in bed and read The Marriage Plot.

Mother’s Day has given me license to let go of all my mom guilt this weekend.  I didn’t feel bad about holding up in the office to write this and print out about 50 pictures from Orion’s 2nd birthday photo shoot to send to family.  I also did not feel guilty about lying in bed to finish Everything Is illuminated (loved the movie, LOVED the book!). I even let myself enjoy a nice long shower yesterday without worry about what Orion was getting into.  It is these small simple things, hot showers, reading, and time alone that you really miss as a mom of young children.

Being a parent is not getting easier but he is sleeping thorough the night most nights which means I am getting more sleep which is magical.  We are weaning and only nursing twice a day for nap and bedtime (and if he wakes at night).  Now that the weather is getting nice, we spend as much time as we can outside before the dogs days of summer descend. We had a hard week but it was amazingly rewarding. Patrick was out of town for 4 bedtimes and I was exhausted being the only caregiver.  But I am also really happy that I was with Orion instead of sleazy Vegas at a conference.  Even though there were tears from both myself and Orion, there was a lot of cuddles and laughs.

almost 2!
My baby is growing up and I can see that he is developing into a wonderful person.  It is crazy to look at pictures of him from when he was born, last year, and now.  The baby fat is melting from his cheeks but the sweetness is still their in his smile. He is becoming his own person who loves cars and Yo Gabba Gabba and Gustafer Yellowgold. I love Orion with such an unimaginable strength that I really do not know how I ever lived without him.  I am amazed at the boy he has become.  He is so loving, happy, and outgoing. I love to watch him dance and point excitedly and speak new words.  He brings me tears of joy on an almost daily basis.  Since working on weaning I was afraid he might become cold but he has become more affectionate.  He will climb into my bed when I am reading after dinner and before his bath and just snuggle with me. His head fits so perfectly below my chin and against my chest.  It is nice to get this closeness without being a source of food.  I love his frequent hugs and his occasional kisses.  I love being his mom and our silly little family. 

almost 2!
This will be a happy Mother’s Day and I will think of my mom with sadness and longing and pride that she was MY mom.  I wonder if the way I feel about Orion even comes close to the way she felt about raising my brother and me.  When Orion is older, Mother’s Day will be another opportunity to tell him all about my mom and how his grandmom was a wonderful person. I want to wish a very happy Mother’s Day to all the past, present, and future moms in the world.  I know how hard this day can be for those who have lost their mom, lost children, or haven’t had their dreams of becoming a mother be reality. I want you to know that I am thinking of you and sending you love. I hope you can find some positivity and comfort today.