Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Decade as a Mom

Today I have been a mother for a decade.
My oldest son, Peyton, turns 10.  The first double digit birthday.

I didn't really know what I would be like as a mother.

Before I met my husband I was the ultimate tough single chick.  Likened to a Whoopi Goldberg best friend character from a nineties movie, I wouldn't conform or take anybody's b.s.  During college and a few years after I didn't have a boyfriend.  "I don't believe in relationships in college," I boldly stated.  Really? I didn't believe in them maybe because no one would get in one with me.  

But that just made me tougher and more cynical.  Between a lot of relationship rejection and my crazy mother, the walls around my heart were pretty high.  Nothing was going to hurt me.  I told people I was never going to get married and I might adopt, but not for a long, long time.  Then I met Tim.

I knew I was falling for him, but it took a paralyzing near panic attack on the top of the mountain to realize what was really going on.  You see I had never really been too afraid of things.  I was the girl in ski club kids would dare to go down the forbidden side of the mountain and I gladly just went down.  Again, truth be told, I'm not really sure if it was being fearless or just desperate for people to like me.  Either way I would do the dares almost always.  

But on a mountain top in Jackson Hole, Wyoming I felt fear.  It was there for the first time I understood what it was to be be vulnerable.  I was letting down the walls to my heart and loving Tim back.  And damn it all to hell it scared me.  I couldn't make it down the mountain without assistance.

That was the first pretty loud whisper of fear.  The whisper just kept getting louder and louder.  

Even though I was afraid of all this good loving and fearful that it would all come crashing down around me, I moved to a different state to be with Tim.  Weeks before our wedding I remember having nightmares and having feelings of anxiety.  

Not too long after we were married, I got pregnant.  In a matter of two years, I had fallen in love, moved to a new town, switched jobs (a couple of times), gotten married, bought a house, got a dog and gotten pregnant.  The whispers of fear had turned into a full blown anxiety attack and mild depression.  

I didn't know who I was.   Someone told me, "I just never pictured you like this.  I thought you would be in New York or doing something really interesting."  Well that just shook me up even more.  Were they right?

It didn't help that I gained 70 pounds with my pregnancy.  And at 5' 2", you simply can't gain 70 pounds and feel ok, even when you are pregnant.  During the later stages of my pregnancy, my dad came to visit.  He was telling me all about his heart smart diet and proudly told me what he weighed.  I gulped and drank in the knowledge that I weighed more than my 6-foot tall father.  That didn't really help with the depression.

I was worried about what kind of mother I was going to be with all of this crazy going on in my head.  It just felt like too much.  Too much life.  Too much goodness.  I was sure I would find a way to mess it up and lose it all.

Those feelings eased a bit as my physical discomfort grew.  My focus was more about what labor was actually going to be like.
I found a column I wrote the week before Peyton was born where I describe the anticipation of labor as "the biggest adventure of my life."
This picture of the column looks so old....more like 20 not 10 years.
I got it wrong.  Parenting, that is the biggest adventure.  And the minute Peyton was born, the whispers were gone.  When they put that little baby in my arms a lot of the crazy stopped.

The vulnerability was there, but it was more fierce.  Oh my god, I almost said like a mama bear, but Sarah Palin kind of ruined that reference for me.  But it was some sort of powerful, primal, protective love.

I thought back to what that friend had said to me about how my life turned out.  She was right and wrong.  Neither one of us pictured my life like this.  I didn't because I never dreamed up something this good.  This life of love, marriage and children is more than I could picture for myself.

And 10 years in, I am not afraid of it slipping away.  Each year our family gets stronger.
Of course truth be told, I am still a worrier about illness, injury and random craziness.   I never go on WebMD and had to stop watching Dr. Oz because of my neurosis.  I didn't say all the crazy went away.

 "Some days I feel confident and maternal.  Other days I feel uncertain and anxious," I got that part right in the column 10 years ago.  

Now that that little baby they put in my arms is too cool for fourth grade and is trying out deodorant and talking about wanting an iphone, I wonder what the next 10 years will be like.  One thing that I am absolutely certain about....they go fast.

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