As I sit here surrounded by three young daughters, hair in a week-old ponytail, I realize my experience is not unique.
I’m not changing the definition of what it means to be a mother. Yes what I’m doing is special, exhausting, powerful, invigorating and filled with oozing diapers and countless pots of tea, but I haven’t done anything that hasn’t been done before me. In fact, what has been done before me is the very motivation, inspiration, Valerie-ness that keeps me strong enough to take this journey, hand-in-hand with my husband and attempt to create three selfless, poopy-diapered contributing members of society.
When I think I can’t make it to the pool for the third swimming lesson of the week, I remind myself my Mom did it with four of us. When I think I hear donkeys through the baby monitor only to realize I have to check that sound in the baby’s room at 3 a.m., I remember my own mother did it without the benefits of modern technology. When I lose my cool, when I panic because I’m at the hair salon for the first time in ten months with a baby in a stroller who has soiled her clothes with a combination of feces and ground Cheerio powder and I’m totally unprepared, I giggle at how my mother would have dealt with the situation using whatever supplies she had on hand; an empty Tim Horton’s coffee cup, two gently used tissues, paper clips, a camping tarp and a smile.
When I fold and re-fold my easily collapsed stroller and slide it in and out of the mini-van several hundred times a day or fuss over twisted five point harness straps on car-seats, I wonder how she ever fit a buggy into the trunk of that compact car and how cautious she must have driven with us propped up in laundry baskets. When I debate over what prepared baby food I should purchase from the organic section of the grocery store, I laugh at the way we teased her for making a special trip to an out-of-the-way store that had a machine to grind your own peanuts ensuring our whole grain sandwiches wouldn’t be smeared with preservatives or unnecessary salt.
When I attempt to bathe and I notice six tiny hands wiggling under the doorway, “Mommy can you see us?” I’m able to laugh because my mother always did and I quickly come to terms there is no such thing as me-time.
When I delivered our first daughter, I considered telling my mother she wasn’t totally accurate in her recollection of how babies easily fall out of you and you will give birth in the hallway at the hospital before having time to be admitted but I choose to believe she’s not a liar, rather drawing from selective memory.
Motherhood has changed me because when I run out of craft projects to do with the kids and my Mom suggests, “Make some dough in your bread maker and let the girls roll it out, braid it, decorate it and bake it” I feel so incredibly lucky to know I may one day be lucky enough to be that wealth of knowledge for my own kids.
Motherhood has changed me because for the first time in my life I realize the energy, the undying devotion my own mother had, and still has, for her own children. It’s a full circle moment and if she’s the benchmark, I don’t want to be the one to change it.
Winner of the Voices of Motherhood Writing Contest"