My kids, impatient to celebrate me, decided to be awake at 12:30 this morning. Both of them at the same time. So rather than try to convince them both to go back to sleep upstairs, where the protests would undoubtedly have forced Bill to try to stifle the noise by covering his head with a pillow, the three of us trooped downstairs in the near-dark and hung out in the living room in the basement watching the Food Network.
Well, Alex and I trooped. I carried Princess Julia.
She finally fell asleep and I brought her back up to her crib. Alex and I hung out a bit longer and then finally he went to bed too. And then I did.
But I almost didn’t. I almost came to the computer to write. But the pillow and the warm bed and the luxury of being horizontal won out and I stayed upstairs.
Things I thought about while I was up with the kids…
After the initial groan to myself and the I-don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed thing…I decided not to be annoyed about it this time. (Probably JUST this time). I decided to be grateful instead.
They are the reason I can call Mother’s Day mine. (Well, yes, Bill helped with that, too.) But they are the ones who call me Mommy (Alex) or Mama (Julia). I am a Mommy because I have them. And I am so lucky. So blessed. That’s the bottom line. I have two healthy, happy children, which is exactly what I wished for. It took a long time to get here, but at the same time, the timing is perfectly right. Sometimes I get this wonderfully comfortable feeling of being right exactly where I’m supposed to be. It’s always like the sun coming out unexpectedly just after a rain storm. It’s like "wow! I have kids! That’s so weird! How did I get here?"
Really. For a while I resigned myself to never getting married or having kids. And it was okay – my sister’s kids were my kids, just about. I could use all my maternal instincts on them.
And now, here I am. It is amazing.
And it’s funny, but now that I have a daughter, I’m getting glimpses – very quick, blink-of-an-eye flashes, of my mother at this point in her life. It’s almost like an overlay of images – me and my daughter…mom and one of her two daughters. I am up in the middle of the night with my little girl, and it will wash over me – this not-quite deja vu feeling of recognition, or of understanding, or of this huge thing in common. She was where I am. I am where she was. I am that first of two baby girls of hers. And I am that baby girl grown up…and with a baby girl of my own. And one day, maybe, the spiral will come around again and it will be Julia, up in the middle of the night, maybe having this same strange flash of recognition, of seeing herself in me, of seeing me in her…of seeing this repeating of mother and daughter again and again. Not just seeing it as it spirals forward, but looking at it as it spirals back, generation from generation of mothers and daughters who become mothers of daughters….
It’s hard at times – very often a lot of the time – to see our mothers (and fathers) as people who existed before we were born. We know they did, of course. We see pictures of them, we hear stories. But we do not walk along with them when they are starting out as parents of us. We don’t see them go through all the same doubts and fears and sleeplessness and joys and delights and laughter that we are now going through. By the time we go through this with our own offspring, our parents have ascended to the exalted positions of grandparents – a totally different thing altogether. So we see them relaxed, comfortable, delighted at this new generation of babies. But it’s not the same.
We don’t see them when they are us.
But every now and then, in the middle of the night, with my restless baby girl, I see my mother, the young wife, the new parent, the woman who was up with me in the middle of the night, when I, too, was restless.
Mom, Happy Mother’s Day. I love you.