Friday, March 7, 2014

Mothers

I had heard the phrase "a fat lip" before, but I never really understood what it meant, until a few days ago.  We had been having a fairly peaceful afternoon.  I had just fed Hazel and she was almost asleep on my lap.  Heather had come over and was begging to be held for a bit of a snuggle.  I was just about to try and juggle the two of them when suddenly, Hanna fell down hard and bit her lip on the way.  The swelling and bleeding was instantaneous and incredible.  I put Hazel on the couch, which made her start screaming, and told Heather I couldn't hold her, which made her start crying. 

It's just like that sometimes, isn't it?

There was so much blood I thought maybe she had knocked a tooth out, or bitten off a piece of her tongue.  After wiping away all the blood at the sink, I realized that her teeth and tongue were fine, so I focused again on her lip as she kept screaming, "what is this bump mommy?"

I finally noticed it, and almost fell over. Her lip had swollen in the few moments since the fall to three times its normal size.  It was just huge.  I can't overstate this.  It was also black.

I held her and she screamed and cried.  Rubbing her back and smoothing her hair, I had no idea what else to do to make it feel better.  Ice?  I gave her some wrapped up in a paper towel in a baggie, but she wouldn't actually touch it to her lip.  She held it just a hair's breadth away from her lip, but since it helped her stop crying I figured it was good as a placebo anyway.

She went and laid down on the couch.  I pulled a blanket up over her, and within minutes she was sound asleep.  I picked up Hazel again and she also fell asleep, and Heather was content with a book to look at on the couch next to me.  It was peaceful again.  For a few minutes, and then we had to leave to sit in the car for an hour to pickup Hallie.  In moments like that, I find myself surprised by my life.  That I have these little people so dependent on me.  They need to be picked up from school, to be held, to have their blood and tears and whatever else wiped away.  And by some strange twist of fate, I am that person for them.  All day it's just me and my girls.  They need me and I try to be what they need. 

The day before this fat lip fall happened, Devin had asked me if I had ever thought, when growing up, that I would be a mother to all girls.  I thought about it for a minute before admitting to him the truth.

I had never thought I would be a mother.  Not a mother at all to anyone, boys or girls.

I was never one of those girls who daydreamed about her wedding, or the man she would marry, or the children she would have.  If I ever did start thinking about it, I forced myself to stop and reminded myself that I would never get married, never have children.

But as children do, I grew up.  In high school it was easy to believe that I would be alone my whole life as I never got any attention from boys.  In college however, for reasons still mysterious to me, suddenly I did start getting some amount of attention, but I had no idea what to do with it.

Luckily, fate intervened in the form of a group of friends and roommates who basically became my therapists and led me in baby steps through the process of "dating".  It took years, but somewhere along the way I began to think maybe I would get married after all.

Getting married had been one thing I never thought I would do, having babies was the other, bigger thing.  I never thought I would get married because I never thought I would fall in love, or have anyone love me.  I never thought I would have babies because simple explanation is (epidural) needles: NO, and the only other option is pain: and NO.

The other, more serious reason I never really wanted to have kids is because of the way I was as a teenager.  It all comes down to the way I treated my mother.  The only thing I regret now as an adult about how I acted growing up is the way I treated her.  The tone of my voice, my attitude, the not listening to her.  All classic, normal stereotypical teenager stuff but I remember thinking, "I can never have children, because they will probably talk to me this way sometimes, and it would hurt.  Just like I am hurting my mom."  I didn't like myself in those moments of teenagerness, and I knew that someday I would have children who would do that to me.

But then I did fall in love, and turns out he liked me too, and so we got married.  Suddenly I very much wanted to have a family with this good looking man.  I wanted to fill my life with babies.  I wanted them to all look just like him.  As we know, I said yes to the pain and no to the needle and became a mother.

That's how I ended up on the couch on a drizzly overcast day in the beginning of March.  I know that they will grow up to be teenagers.  They will probably have days when they will be sassy and snooty and it will probably hurt my heart the way I hurt my mother's.   I guess in those moments I will have to try harder than I ever have before to be like her.  I think that's what I want more than anything in life, now that I am a mother myself, is to be just like my mom.

So thanks mom, and I'm sorry.  I hope I can do it right for them, the way you did for me.

1 comment:

  1. Reading this, I kept thinking of how similar and different you and I are. My plan was always to grow up and be a mother. I don't remember ever having a different goal or thinking it wouldn't happen.

    And you were way nicer to Mom than I was. I wish I could go back and change my teenage years. Although, if I did that, then I would turn out to be a different adult, wouldn't I? And I do think I turned out pretty well, as in I think I learned from my mistakes.

    I want to be like my mom. And I want to be a mom like you. You're an amazing mother.

    I am still overwhelmed and at times surprised by how needed I am by these little creatures who call me mother and love me completely.

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