July 8, 2010

Becoming People

More and more, I find myself shocked and amazed at the idea that my babies are becoming children.  It's a confusing thing- when I started thinking about getting pregnant, I could picture myself the mother of children.  I could picture all the things I would do with them, how I would interact with them, how much fun I would have... from about the age of 18 months onward.  I had been a nanny and babysitter off and on for a long time, but never for babies.  My experience with tiny humans under the age of six months was absolutely minimal.  Small children though, those are small people I understand.

Then I got pregnant.  I started picturing, for the first time really, what it would be like to have a BABY.  Not a child, but an infant.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  These days I can't imagine my life any differently, I am so comfortable with my role as the mother of my little baby girls.  But I'm starting to catch glimpses of the developments to come, I'm starting to wonder about the reality of being a mother to little children.

I always knew it was something I wanted, and it was always something I could envision.  Now, though?  Now the idea that my babies- those itsy bitsy people I made- will turn into real people is almost alarming.  What on earth could that be like?  How could it happen?  I only had babies... nearly a year ago?  How long do babies last?

Not long enough.  Too long.  Exactly as much time as it takes for it to stop.

Today I had a moment that I'm sure will replicate itself over and over again.  As I washed the dishes, I noticed that I couldn't hear my daughters making any noise.  I looked back into the dining room, where I had left them playing in their exersaucers (before you panic, our home is entirely on one floor and fairly baby-proof), and they were gone.  Nowhere to be seen.  A brief investigation turned them up, DD had gone off in search of adventure on the other end of the house, and SI had gone off after DD.  But they were off on their own, completely oblivious of me, completely on their own steam.

You cannot imagine the whirlwind of emotions that followed.

First, a moment of panic: Can they get those pictures off the wall?  Can they get into the bathroom and fall in the toilet?  Will they pull down the laundry on the drying rack and stab themselves with a hanger?

Then, a moment of reassurance: Of course they can't get the pictures, and if they could the pictures would fall onto the floor which they can't reach in their saucers.  They can't fall in the toilet, they have no way to get out of their saucers.  If they do pull down the laundry, they aren't going to kill themselves playing with a plastic hanger.

And finally, a moment of a confused sadness:  How did this happen?  How did they get so COMPETENT?

I realized immediately that I was experiencing something that I had only brushed the surface of before- motherhood.  For the first few months, I didn't feel like a *real* mommy.  I didn't have to discipline, I didn't have to say 'no' to anything, I didn't have to run around after my kids, nobody called me "Mommy" without any understanding that I had another name.  I wasn't exactly a real mom.  Yet.  Not to me and my absurd standards of accomplishment.

And there I was, watching my children sort of walk away from me, happy and laughing and exploring and... well... being kids.  There I was, doing the dishes, prepping the ingredients for dinner, planning the next day's meals, and being the very vision of motherhood I had aimed for before getting pregnant.

I realized something, it isn't just my children who are becoming real people.  It's me, as well.  I never really thought I was done growing, done becoming who I am.  But just the same you never expect to suddenly see yourself in the mirror and say, "Who the hell is THAT?"  That person is me, not me the perpetual student, not me the artist, not me the wife, not me activist, not me poet... it was yet another me.  Me the mom.

I'm a mom now.  I'm not just a mom in that I've procreated, I'm a mom in that everywhere I go I have a bunch of little snacks in my bag.  I say things like, "Why don't you put the banana in your mouth instead of your eyebrow?"  I consider sitting around reading the same two 20 word long books over and over to SI or rolling DD all over the bed ALL AFTERNOON a wonderful day.

And I'm still all of the other things.  I'm still making art, I'm still writing (and thank you all for reading!), I'm still cooking, I'm still learning.  And I am becoming the person I always wanted to be.

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