Becoming Mom Material

Posted on | May 17, 2013 | 8 Comments

Before, eons and eons ago when I was not someone’s mother, I thought that motherhood might not be for me.  I worried that I wouldn’t “take to it” … that I’d be bad at loving someone else the way they needed to be loved… that I’d be impatient and imprecise and in every way imperfect.  Even when I was pregnant, I worried that something would go wrong.  I worried that the world would notice and then it would be gone, then he would be gone… the perfect little being growing inside of me. I wasn’t “Mom Material” you know.  I was scarred and broken.  I had… dun dun dun… a past.  I’d lived my twenties in style.  I’d done stupid things.  I couldn’t possibly be trusted to raise and care for and love a child. Could I?

Inexplicably, one evening in late August, I found my non-mom material self in a light blue hospital gown staring into two dark blue eyes that looked at me as though every part of him needed me to hold him close and tell him it would be okay… so I did.  Even as I sobbed the tired cries of a new mother.  Even as I wondered how on Earth I could hear one more scream or feel one more agonizing pull of milk.  I held him close and told him it would be okay, even as I wondered if it ever would be, even as I wondered, still, if this was “my scene.”  I held him close when there was poop drying under my fingernails, when everything smelled like piss and powder, when nothing made sense except the rhythmic bounce of my legs against the floor, rocking him as I sobbed that I couldn’t rock him anymore. Rocking as I sobbed that maybe, just maybe, I was right.

Maybe I wasn’t mom material.

Every pain staking minute of the first few weeks and months of his life was like a constant pin-pricking reminder that I had no earthly idea what I was doing, even though this little person, this little being, seemed to think that I did… seemed to want me to do whatever wrong things I was doing. Slowly, I started to become more comfortable with my wrong decisions.  Slowly, I stopped reading what I was supposed to do and just did what I needed to do.  Slowly, I started to base my thoughts and decisions, my actions and reactions on the ever-growing love I felt for this tiny son of mine.  I was doing it all wrong.  We were doing it all wrong.  But we were in it together and dammit, there was so. much. love. Even with the hate and sadness and anger.  Even with the sleep deprivation and the confusion and the horror.  Even with all of my doubt, the part of me that tied me to my son grew stronger and stronger, binding me to him with a love I couldn’t hope to give voice to.

Slowly, ever so slowly, I became a mother.

Yesterday, my imperfectly mothered child “graduated” from preschool. He stood on the stage with his white cap and gown askew and stuck his tongue out at me. Though the “perfect mom material” in my head said to give him a stern look and make him stop, the mother I am stuck my tongue back out at him and we both laughed.  Afterwards, we took silly pictures and tried to share a graduation cap made out of fondant which was totally disastrous both in fact and in pictures.  And then his grandparents whisked him away for the weekend and I went home to my too-quiet house.

I opened a beer and sank onto the sofa to watch cheesy television shows, and took a good look around my consummately messy house.  I scanned the rows of shelves lined with toys and picture books and the hand prints on the glass doors.  I noticed the jumble and tumble of my every day world from the stillness of this unfamiliar vantage point and I realized, not for the first time, that of all the things I am and am not, and of all the things I am capable of being…  the one thing I will forever be, the one thing he alone has forever made me…

Is a mother.

Perfectly disastrous, perfectly confused and concerned and conflicted. Always perfectly unable to be, well,  perfect or proper or pristine, still so scared I’m doing it all wrong. But the love… oh, the love.  This mind-blowing, soul-twisting, heart-aching love is what makes us parents…. it’s what makes us perfectly parents… not in spite of, but because of all our imperfections. crazy




8 Responses to “Becoming Mom Material”

  1. Lola M.
    May 17th, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

    Wow! Congratulations on both his graduation and yours! I remember as well not knowing if I could do it. But somehow I’ve got this amazing 12 year old with an amazing heart in spite of everything. Luckily being a mother ins’t something you think about … it’s who you are. And, hey, what would a kid do with a perfect mother??

  2. Law Momma
    May 21st, 2013 @ 9:15 am

    It feels so daunting at first! My mom and I were talking this morning about how you basically get thrown in with an empty toolbox and all you have to fill it with is love. But somehow? That’s enough.

  3. mom
    May 19th, 2013 @ 9:25 pm

    Perfectly said! we “imperfect” mothers hide behind the overwhelming, unconditional love we have for our children; trusting the love will override our imperfections, our mistakes, our distractions….and it does.

  4. Law Momma
    May 21st, 2013 @ 9:15 am

    Love you, mom. 🙂

  5. Julia Hembree
    May 20th, 2013 @ 5:41 pm

    I love coming here. Your words have more eloquently captured the beauty of real motherhood than any other blog I read. It’s messy and exhausting and imperfect and exactly right. A lot of blogs say that. Mine says that. But only you are able to express it so eloquently that I find myself nodding along, tearing up, and sending hugs your way. Congratulations on preschool graduation!

  6. Law Momma
    May 21st, 2013 @ 9:15 am

    This is probably my most favorite comment ever. You are so sweet to say that. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  7. Jackie Henson
    May 20th, 2013 @ 11:28 pm

    I love your words, they speak right to me on days when I need to hear them. I am too coming to this realization alot lately & its nice to know I am not the only one.

  8. Law Momma
    May 21st, 2013 @ 9:15 am

    We’re all in it together! 🙂

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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