I'm the oldest of six children... the youngest could have been my own child - there are 18 years between us. I was also an ace baby sitter for newborns to young teens. So in a sense, I'd been performing mother-like duties for many years before I even became an adult myself.
Motherhood, however, was not on my list of priorities. Frankly, I'd had enough of dirty diapers and spitting up. Oh, babies were cute and toddlers adorable, but I didn't yearn to have one of my own. Not in my 20s, not even in my 30s.
I was too busy trying to get my own life in order. There was a bad marrige (no kids, thank God) and the searching for self that comes after such an event. Picking up a life that had been interrupted for 8 years is no mean feat. Go back to school? Get a job? Gotta figure out how to move out of Mom and Dad's (I love them but going home after living as an adult on my own was hard on all of us). Job it was and an apartment with my brother who'd just gotten out of the Army.
And then there was the straightening out of the romantic life. Now THAT was crazy. I had so little experience in that kind of thing... my first serious boyfriend turned out to be gay. That explained a lot, actually. The second was my first husband. There was a boyfriend of three and half years duration, and then my Darling Man. Who had time to think about having children?
Even after we got married, DM and I weren't keen on having kids. He already had one that was grown and wasn't interested in another one. I was still so ambivalent and time continued to march by so fast that I was pretty sure I'd never have a baby. That was okay by me - I could continue my role in the family of strange aunt. I was married now, but children were not on the horizon. I was the aunt that went rock climbing and mountain biking and brought lime jello with pineapple in it to every family dinner.
Then there was this night, a brother's wedding and too much champagne and three days later, I knew I was going to be a mom.
And I didn't panic. I knew it was the right thing - and amazingly, so did Darling Man. I was old to be a first time mother (37) and the doctor watched me every step of the way, but we still knew it was right. My age caused some concern for Down's Syndrome and I did get tested - but not so I could abort if the baby had it, but because we wanted to be ready, to plan ahead for what we'd need if he did have it. He didn't, but really, that wouldn't have mattered to us. We were prepared to love him no matter what.
I was a somewhat clumsy mom. I felt awkward and a little unsure of myself. I lost my temper easily as I never had much patience. DM stepped in when I felt stressed and somehow we got through babyhood unscathed. The mechanics of changing diapers and feeding and putting the kid to sleep were easy - it was the emotional motherhood that I had problems with.
I doubted myself. A lot. And always felt stunned and a little disbelief when people (my mom especially) told me that I was a good mother. I didn't feel like I thought a mother would feel.
But I treated my child like a person. With a good brain but maybe not much self control. And I loved him. So much so that there were times it felt like my heart would break in two just looking at his sweet face or laughing at something he did.
Somewhere between conception and today, he completely changed who I was. I was no longer just Sayre, employee, wife, bike rider, cleaner of houses, lover of cats and chocolate cake. I became Mom.
Thanks, Son. You are the reason for my life.
Funny, when I started doing this writing exercise, I didn't realize just how much it would NOT be about me. It's more about my son - and the same was true of this post as well!