There was one constant that I always knew I wanted to be, above all those hopes and dreams, and that was to be a mother. It was as if it was ingrained in my DNA, there was no question, I always wanted children, and I knew this even as a young child. The other wants and dreams just fell away, not far, but away, as I knew there was to be a break somewhere in my twenties, when I wanted to have babies. It didn't go as planned, not even close, but I took that break in my twenties, and have since, blessed be, have become a mother. Now, not all women are the same, and some stay home (I use this term loosely) to raise their babies, and some continue with their dreams, and have both. There is no right answer. I firmly believe in the beautiful choice that each mother is different, circumstances are different, and it is up to us to forgo judgement and back our mother sisters with their very personal choice. Ladies, we need to back each other up. For reals. No smack talking each other.
That being said, I had the opportunity to raise my babies as my sole job, and I took it happily. When people ask me what I do, the first thing I say is "I am a mother" (which usually gets a blank stare that says, "ya...go on..."), and then I say my second job is a photographer, which seems to satisfy them. Sheesh. I remember getting the questions as soon as I had Vanessa, "what do you do all day?" and the "when are you going back to work?" and I still get those questions from time to time. I am a mother. Isn't that enough? 'Nuff said, right moms? Wrong. I still get the disapproving look sometimes, like I have to prove that I am busy, or I have to prove that the way I spend my day is worth cash in my pocket. At first, I really felt the need to justify using the term "being a mom." Now, I let it totally roll off my back. I need to justify nothing, except for the fact that I am doing right by my girl, and that to me, is all that truly matters. Not making other people happy with my life choices.
We've had a rough couple weeks, Grace and I. Kinda like petting a tiger the wrong way, you know, against the way the fur lays. Being a parent stretches you to uncomfortable places and tests every part of you. If each kid came with a manual specific to their personalities, it would be very, very helpful. What I've needed to do this week, is re examine how I am raising her, and how I talk to her. I do this internal shake up quietly, alone, and it leaves me feeling confused, slippery footed, and a bit black and blue inside. I can be very rough on myself, as mothers sometimes do. This week, I won no parenting awards. This week she won no exceptional behavior awards unless you include fit throwing. What we both know, is that we both have to do better. Learn. Love. Relax. It is amazing how parenting constantly evolves, morphs into completely different spaces as your kid gets older. I kept thinking as she was growing up, this is going to get easier, right? but it hasn't, and it doesn't. It just gets different, and as stubborn as I am, I need to learn that I have to morph and grow along with it, too.
Someone once told me having a child will be the "toughest job you will ever love." Yes. I completely agree. Someone also told me, actually, it was my supervisor from my hospital job, her parting words as I was waddling, very pregnant, out of the hospital from my very last day of work, " Get ready for the biggest love of your life. Get ready for your heart to totally split open."
Oh, dear God, has it ever, many, many times over.
My sister recently called me a "dreamer." I took offence to it at first, but now, I realize, she is right. I dream. They are building blocks, a staircase to the stars. Some of these dreams may live only in my head, and some may come to fruition with a solid plan and some hard work. The one staircase, the most beautiful one, that took every corner of my soul to built, that has every tear from my eyes swirled in, that has every ounce of my love inside, and holds all my deepest sorrow, stands the highest. There are pieces missing, large gaping holes in it, but it is still beautiful, and it is mine. I have built it.
That staircase, is my ultimate dream realized.
It is called: Motherhood.