Monday, May 10, 2010
How I Became a Mother
I think I was always a mother at heart. I used to treat my baby dolls as if they were real children that were mine. I loved to babysit and would smile at all the children in groceries stores. And kids have always loved me.
I used to want lots of kids. Even as an adult I wanted seven of them. Secretly, ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be the Von Trapps (from Sound of Music). I was in love with the idea of having a large family with lots of kids, lots of activities and chaos (ha!). Obviously I had no idea what I was talking about.
When Taz came along almost three years ago, he redefined my version of motherhood. In reflecting back on my journey in being a mother, I realize what a hard transition it was for me. Not at all like typical mothers who have a flood of warmth and emotion for the newborn that looks like them and is so dependent on them for love and affection. In fact, my child hated me in ways I couldn't understand for the first six months of our life together.
At that time Taz was a mystery to me. At 15 months he had his own personality, his own story we knew nothing about, and his own emotional turmoil we couldn't comprehend. We loved him, yes, but we didn't know him. I remember after becoming a mom, friends and acquaintances asked me constantly how I liked it. It took all I had to smile and say I love it! when inside I felt like collapsing in a pile of tears. I felt like a huge failure. Like I had been preparing my whole life for something that, it turns out, I sucked at. I sucked at being a mom!
After we figured out that Taz had a legitimate problem, not caused by what I thought was sucky parenting, I began to relax a little. I looked at myself differently. I saw that I was actually a very patient and loving mother, even though I didn't feel like it. I didn't suck at this mothering thing, I had been dealt a hand I was not prepared for. I had a tough kid. Really tough. Who came from an even tougher circumstance. And I don't think Taz would have fared any better in another home, as I had previously thought. In fact, I think he would have done worse. He ended up right where he is supposed to be.
If Chica had come first instead of Taz, I would still have that dream of seven children. Chica is my idyllic version of motherhood. She is perfect and normal and healthy. She is loving and well-adjusted. She is calm and easy-going. She is everything I thought having a baby would be. If she came first I would begging my husband right now to adopt another. My entire mothering experience would have been different.
But that's not what was meant to be. I am happy and thankful for both my children. Parenting Chica has been marvelous and magical; full of joy and cuddles. Parenting Taz has been full of challenges. But he's taught me more lessons than I ever knew I needed to learn. He taught me about what's really important in life. He's taught me grace, forgiveness, selflessness, patience, unconditional love, and my own inner strength I didn't know was there. I've matured and gained wisdom beyond my years because of him. Having to fight so hard for his love and trust has bound us together indefinitely.
He will always be my mystery.
But he is also my heart.
He is the reason I am a mother.