Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Call to Motherhood

My Little Dream Come True


Believe it or not, I wasn't always sure I wanted to be a mom. This may come as a surprise to those whose babies I've held and rocked, parents whose children I've taught, people who currently read my Stella-obsessed blog entries and Facebook status updates.

I've always loved children, ever since I was one myself. Their openness, their enthusiasm, their loving nature -- I just revel in it. But I didn't feel the biological urge to have my own for many, many years.

My sister, Nora, bravely had a baby when she was a teenager. I was a few years older than her at the time -- 21 -- and completely shocked by the sheer amount of blood, sweat and tears that went into taking care of an infant. I was instantly, madly in love with my nephew, Daniel, but I was also floored by the volume and frequency of his tears and the amount of work it took to keep him alive and thriving. What a wake-up call, and natural form of birth control, that was. I did not ever, due to that experience, romanticize having a baby. And, consequently, didn't want one.

Until...well, a month before my wedding in 2005, I met my niece, Bethany. And then, something just clicked. I was 29 and in a stable relationship that would soon be legal in the eyes of society (since it was, luckily, a heterosexual relationship, but that's another blog entry).

I held that gorgeous lump of baby smoosh, and I knew I wanted to be a mom.

However, I was embarrassed to tell Dave. I was embarrassed that I, like the stereotype of a woman on the verge of her 30's, had a BIOLOGICAL CLOCK that decided to act up. I was embarrassed that I was an episode of Sex in the City, a completely typical woman prey to her hormones and society's expectations of her.

So, I didn't tell him. If communication is the cornerstone of a good marriage, ours was pretty shaky there for a while.

But the urge became silently stronger and stronger. I found myself ogling others' infants, smiling at their toddlers and waving at their preschoolers. In a city as suspicious as New York, this type of behavior is not welcomed.

I found myself fantasizing about how it would be to snuggle up with my son or daughter and read my favorite children's books. I found myself looking at my life -- the post-work drinks with friends, the nights of take-out Thai and rented movies, the weekends of sleeping-in and having an over-priced brunch at a restaurant with a one-hour wait -- and found it to be empty.

And it soon became clear to Dave that I had been bitten by the Mommy Bug.

Thankfully, he felt the same way, as we realized when a late period turned out to be just that -- a late period and nothing else. We weren't trying to get pregnant, and yet we were both secretly hoping I was. We both cried and held each other and realized we wanted to be parents.

And together we fantasized about family vacations, about instilling values such as empathy and open-mindedness and fairness in our offspring, about piling on the bed and tickling each other until we were red in the face.

We're lucky that after eight months of trying (which seemed, at the time, like eight years), we were blessed with a healthy pregnancy. We're lucky that Stella was born without complications and was a bouncing, thriving girl. And we're lucky that we survived the first year of her life, despite my post-partum depression, her lack of sleep, moving twice in 18 months, the lead-paint scare, the creepy (possibly homicidal) upstairs neighbor, the loss of Dave's job, the lack of family around to help us out.

But most of all, after almost two years of the blood, sweat and tears that scared me from having a baby in the first place, we're at the point of parenthood I always dreamed about. Sitting for hours on the couch, reading wonderful book after book. Taking Stella to destinations and watching her amazement and excitement. Giving her new foods to try and wiping her tears and reveling in her unexpected hugs and kisses.

Sometimes I want to pinch myself, to make sure this is all real, and not just a hormonal dream sent to me by my insistent BIOLOGICAL CLOCK.

I'm not saying life is perfect. There are still boxes of Cheerios spilled on the floor and temper tantrums at the grocery store and pages ripped out of library books, but the sweetness and excitement of watching this gorgeous, brilliant, wonderful person grow and learn each and every day makes me happy that I overcame my own silly restrictions for myself and realized that becoming a mom is worth the work, worth stepping out of my comfort zone, and a totally feminist act.

2 comments:

Nora said...

:))) I'm so happy you both created such a delicious little girl like Stella :). And that you love my kiddos :)))... You are a super mommy and aunt!

Sherry said...

Found your blog through Mom-101 (always looking for new things to read) and adore this post because you are singing my song "I'm not saying life is perfect. There are still boxes of Cheerios spilled on the floor and temper tantrums at the grocery store and pages ripped out of library books, but the sweetness and excitement of watching this gorgeous, brilliant, wonderful person grow and learn each and every day makes me happy that I overcame my own silly restrictions for myself and realized that becoming a mom is worth the work, worth stepping out of my comfort zone, and a totally feminist act."

We share a similar story -- inclusive of the younger sister who gave birth as a baby herself.

My daughter is 18 months old and it still surprises me that I ever made it to this planet called motherhood. And its even more surprising that I like it (and that I sing "wheels on the bus", daily).