Saturday, April 10, 2010

Reflections from a mother on a weekend off from Grady: "I get it now."

During my residency, I used to see these tiny babies in the NICU born to moms who'd spent thousands and thousands of dollars on in vitro fertilization. It wasn't unusual to see multiples--sometimes there would be two, three, or once I even saw four little babies all of whom had been nudged into existence by the help of modern technology. One mom told me, as she spent each and every waking hour that she could in the NICU, that they'd been "trying" for almost twelve years before conceiving. First, the standard way for two years, then nearly ten more of costly intrauterine inseminations, hormone shots, frozen and fresh embryos, and "transfers"--all for this--the chance to be a mom. Another nurse in that very unit had flown all the way to Russia to adopt a baby girl from an orphanage in some remote village. In my ignorance, I recall shaking my head over tepid coffee in the resident lounge smugly saying, "There is no way I'd go through all that. I just don't get it." Although conceiving wasn't difficult when that time came in my life, I now feel like such a heel for being so insensitive and not "getting it" back then. The minute I emerged tearful from our guest bathroom with the positive pregnancy test that would become Isaiah, I got it. I so got it.

Why the talk on mommyhood? I've spent the last two days on Mommy-only kid duty. Fortunately, this is unusual in my house as Harry (whom I miss no opportunity to dance pirouettes around due to my nauseating love for) is an uber hands on dad. But it's been all mommy all day for the last two days, and though usually, I would be giving my husband the hairiest of eyeballs after just one afternoon of Mommy-only duty (or sending him scathing, passive-aggressive text messages about how ridiculously tired I am) --right now I am not. I am so not.

My two stinky boys at Centennial Park today

My Mommy-only funfest has been glorious. We've played in parks, danced in the kitchen, hit the YMCA, ran through the sprinklers at Centennial park, shared great playdates, eaten yumtacular frozen yogurt with waaay too many toppings, and even snuggled in my bed together for decadent mid-afternoon siestas. Two stinky boys plastered to each of my sides creating the most perfect mommy sandwich ever. And because my heart was feeling so full of love, it did not bother me that my siesta kept being interrupted by Isaiah's teeth grinding and Zachy's tendency to pat my face and suck is tongue while he sleeps. It was all music to my ears.

Now they're happily watching the last few minutes of "Planet 51" -- the animated movie I promised I'd let them stay up and see tonight for "movie night." Isaiah asked me to "pop some popcorn please, but not the bag kind but the real kind, okay Mommy?" I happily obliged him feeling good that a.) my 4 year old son even knows the difference between microwave popcorn and sho nuff/bonified popcorn ('cause surely there is one), and that b.) I actually had "real" sho nuff/bonified popcorn in my cabinet that hadn't expired in 2004. I felt like supermom as I filled the whole house with the smell of "real" popcorn popping in a heavy bottom pot, old school style. I looked at my reflection in the microwave (that I wasn't using), pointed at myself and said, out loud, what my husband says to me all the time: "You're a great mom." That sentiment was further affirmed when the kids began jumping up and down on the couch squealing with glee as I brought them the way too big bowl of hot, buttered kernels to scarf down--just for the two of them. Their happiness made me want to go back into the kitchen and pop fifty more bowls (and not the "bag kind" either.)

I have discovered that of all the things I've ever longed for, hoped for, prayed for, and dreamed of, very few actually live up to what I imagined. Even the things that turned out to be great are still not as big a deal in reality once they actually happen. Aaahhh, but the exception is motherhood. Oh, I wanted it. And I yearned for it, prayed for it, and okay, I'll admit that a few times even coveted it when picking out gifts for my girlfriends' baby showers. But I have to say. . . .I had no idea of what it would really feel like until the day they handed me a 9lb 2oz screaming baby boy that we all stared at incredulously considering he had been just pushed out of a not-so-big-ish pelvis. Then one day that baby and the baby after him said, "Ma-ma," and then learned words like I, Love, and You, melting my heart into emotional lava. Motherhood. It is, hands down, the only thing I can think of that is exponentially, indescribably, and insurmountably better than it looks on paper or in your dreams. And what's even better than that? Try motherhood with someone you are madly in love with who loves you back just has hard-- and who loves your kids just as much as you. Now that's living.

The bible says you're not supposed to covet anything, but sometimes I wonder if parenthood should be placed on the side as an exception. You cannot place a price on getting to do this in your lifetime. You cannot. Now that I know what I know, I understand someone exhausting their bank account or jumping through twelve thousand hoops to become a parent in whatever capacity. If the payoff is even half of what I experienced for the last two days, then I wouldn't blame them one bit.

So today, I guess I'm reflecting on how blessed I am to know motherhood and familyhood for myself. It is the best of the best things I have done and the best of the best things I am. And to every mother and potential mother who jumped through hoops, depleted savings and even coveted motherhood, I sincerely apologize. Because I get it now. I so get it.

As good as it gets?
(Mom and Dad say grandparenthood exponentially trumps this, so I'll stay tuned. . . .)


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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