Monday, July 30, 2007

It Becomes Me

All through my life I have always been keenly aware of what is happening around me. I am the quintessential host. I can monitor several conversations at once, including the nuances of the various speakers. I can sense when someone is uncomfortable and needs a rescue, when someone is shy and needs a “buddy” and when someone sees a potential paramour and needs an intro. I know when you need a refill on your drink and when I need to turn the music up a bit.

I am an observer. It has served me well. I throw great parties, I am a very good friend and people think I am very diplomatic. I am. I think diplomacy is easy. If only I could get me a nice diplomat position in a cushy locale…. But I digress. The thing is this observer business has been a double edged sword. Because I spent most of my life feeling like I was also observing me. A spectator at my own party. Its not such a bad thing. In fact I think it has prevented me from making an ass out of myself many times. But I always felt like I was somehow not as “ALIVE” as everyone else. I can remember so many times finding myself at a happy or momentous occasion and instead of being completely caught up in the moment, I was sort of 75% there, with the other 25% carrying on an internal dialogue “I thought I would be more excited/scared/proud...Is this how I thought it would feel...?” I was never 100% there. I watched everyone else and thought “They get it, they are completely into it, why aren’t I?”

And then I became a mother. From the moment I first saw those two little hearts beating on the ultrasound, everything about my perception of myself changed. I was no longer the nice girl with the nice personality that could always be counted on to do and say and serve and send the right thing. Let me rephrase, I was no longer JUST that girl. I was still her on the outside, but inside I was a throbbing, pulsing and thriving giver of life. Every sense was heightened. I could lay in bed and hear the blood moving through my veins, feel my heart leaping and my body creating the life within me.

When my sons were born I expected to feel happy and scared and emotional. And I did, all of those things. But nothing prepared me for the primal, raw, pure love I would feel. I held Baby E for the first time and looked into his eyes and knew him. He was flesh of my flesh. I knew he wasn’t ready to eat yet even though the nurse kept urging me to try. He just stared at me with those deep blue eyes and the more I talked the more he seemed to say “You. I know you. It is so good to finally see you.” When Baby J and I were reunited after his four hour visit to the NICU, it was the same connection with a completely different person. I unswaddled them both and lay them on my bare chest and felt warm skin to skin, and brother to brother to mother, and I was finally for the first time in my life 100% in the moment. And I have been ever since.

My boys are completely different and yet they are an extension of me. I went from feeling like I sort of half lived in one body to feeling like I am alive in three. They are my phantom limbs. When Baby E was only ten days old we had to take him to the hospital because I thought he was breathing too rapidly. They kept him overnight for observation and I refused to let them send my husband and Baby J home because I knew I could not have either child away from me for more than a few minutes. I still miss them when they aren’t with me and even now sitting at my desk at work I can imagine their smell and their sound and feel the weight of their bodies in my empty arms. I count the minutes until I see them again and feel a familiar flutter in my chest every day as I walk to the car, knowing they are just a short ride to daycare away.

I can not kiss or smell or hug them enough. When I wake up each morning I am thrilled to hear them awake, and if they are still asleep I have to desperately resist the urge to pick them up and wake them. I long for the first snuggle of each morning. The warm, sleepy cheeks and graham cracker smell of them. The way they bury their head in my neck, just for one last moment, before launching into the day. The way they tug at my clothes and want to be held, or the way they launch themselves from my lap to explore and play. They scream with delight and anger and joy and fear and frustration. Their laughter resonates in my belly, their cries pull at my chest, and their voices swell my heart. Sometimes one of them will catch my eye from across the room and they literally take my breath away. At night I strip them down for their bath and delight at their naked bodies scrambling up the steps to the second floor bath. The way Baby J’s powerful legs trudge purposely and measured, while Baby E’s limbs flit all over each step like a monkey. I marvel at the way their eyes sparkle as the water runs down their faces in the shower, and swoon as they rub the soapy bubbles into my legs, a circle of three soapy bathers. I am unabashed in my adoration of them. Each milestone they hit is as if it were my own. Each kiss and word and giggle is part of me too.

I have changed forever, for better. My emotions and senses are stronger and more passionate than ever. Through my children I found a certainty of myself and my life and my place in it that I didn’t even know I was missing. I always knew I would be a good mother and I expected the deep emotional connection and yearned for it. I couldn’t know how physical that love would also be and how utterly satisfying being a mother could be.

Her Bad Mother has mentioned how she feels that becoming a mother felt like becoming part of a secret club. I became a mother at 37. After years of doing what was right and expected and proper and feeling like life was good and measured and nice, I discovered that the real me liked it messy and noisy and demanding and filled with warm wet kisses and boys with sweaty puppy-smelling heads fighting for space on my lap. I am finally a mother, and I am finally me.
Sliently lurking is frowned upon by the management...


Anonymous said...

Said so well!

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