Friday, August 27, 2010

Cowards

"Motherhood makes cowards of all of us."
-The Girl With No Shadow, Joanne Harris

I wrote down this quote because it struck a cord with me. I've never been a risk-taker, or a lover of extreme sports, but I did play co-ed hockey for 5 years before my children were born. I even broke my leg in 3 places, which required 2 surgeries. I consider myself a tough chick.

But now that I'm a mom, I find myself remembering all the times my brother and I called my mom a "worry wort".

In many ways, becoming a mother makes you tougher than you ever thought possible. You give birth. You watch your child struggle knowing it is in his best interest to learn it by himself. You empathize for every mother than has ever lost a child. You punish with the intent to improve behavior (life). You protect your child (both emotionally and physically) more fiercely than you protect yourself. Your own safety or pain avoidance is secondary to theirs. And you hide your own pain from them.

There is something visceral and almost painful in my love for my daughters. They bring out a vulnerability in me that I didn't know existed.

My mother-in-law is also a worrier. We can't leave the house while the dryer is running because my husband was told his whole life that it could start a fire. But the longer I know her, the more I see the logic in all her worries. A house fire nearly changed the course of their lives.

Indeed, from my past experiences and those that aren't mine, but that ramble around in my brain, I come up with my own worries.

Each night before bed, I check on the girls, cover them up, turn off the overhead light (which we leave on at its lowest setting), close their door and then latch the gate at the top of the stairs.

The gate is no longer to prevent them from falling - they have been navigating the stairs without incident for quite some time.

There is a very specific reason for the gate.

It is to prevent them from sleepwalking, unlocking the front door, wandering outside and...

See, I can't even say it out loud. The fears of a mother are buried deep inside, hesitant to be exposed in the light of day.

No, my children have never walked in their sleep (but I did when I was a child). And no, they can't unlock the front door. And we have an alarm system.

But a colleague of mine lost a child in just that way. And I have never forgotten her pain, her vulnerability or her strength.
Nowadays, when I get the inevitable question from friends and former teammates, 'Will you play hockey again?' I say No. When they ask why, my answer is always the same.

Because I have kids now.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Just Leave Me Alone!

Sometimes, I have to fight back the urge to scream these words directly into my sweet children's faces. I often forget that children are just that - children - and they need constant reassurance (hmm, just like some adults I know). And I'm the person they can count on getting it from.

But some days, it feels like simply my presence creates an unhealthy helplessness. The requests for my assistance are incessant, and I feel like a pinball bouncing around in a machine aimlessly, unable to control my own direction.

The... err, challenge with 3 year olds (and having two of them) is that they want so badly to be autonomous, yet can't quite complete a task without adult intervention. Or, they try and struggle only to relinquish the power back to me.

After a particularly demanding day camping, I found myself commiserating with the cable TV customer service rep over the phone about the excessive amount of time it took to prepare a simple lunch of PB&J for the girls. Doing it myself would have taken 3 minutes, tops. But both girls insisted on spreading the jam on the bread; of course, I had to display the bread, paper towel, peanut butter, jam and butter knife just so in preparation for them. After patiently watching them attempt to spread jam, the task was returned to me. I convinced them the peanut butter was too cold for them to spread, but they meticulously observed to make sure I mashed down each and every lump for perfectly even coverage. 

Meanwhile, my husband was anxiously awaiting my preparation of hamburger patties, which had to wait until I was released from my PB&J supervision duties.

Finally, the sandwiches were complete. But wait! The crusts needed to be cut off. (Where did they learn that??) Oh, and god forbid, I forget to cut each sandwich in half.

Neither child ate their fastidiously sculpted sandwich.

*sigh* I tried to brush away my frustration, but what I really needed was a break.

Unless physically removed from said child/children, breaks for moms are ridiculous fantasy, known only in the utopian world of parenting advice articles and books. While attempting a "break" a few minutes later to read a magazine in front of the campfire, I found myself craning my neck around the child that had crawled into my lap, while another requested demanded my help doing....yet another mommy assisted activity. 

Childishly, I held up my hand like a wall and said, "mommy is off duty". (Mind you, I still have a child in my lap). She backed away sheepishly and gave me that look that twists my motherly insides like bread dough.

With that, the spell is broken. I am the overly demonstrative, huggy, kissy, reassuring mommy once again.

The true breaks happen when you least expect.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Is it a Boy? A Girl? Or Twins?

I can't keep quiet any longer. Twin moms can damn me, but if I hear of one more Hollywood person that is expecting twins, I might scream.

Leave it to selfish, overpaid Hollywood stars to bring the occurrence of twin pregnancies to an absurd level.

Infants are meant to come one at a time, dammit.

I'll go so far as to say it has become an epidemic. Go ahead - I'll accept the backlash, but I will defend my opinion, experience and perspective like a mama grizzly bear.

This boston.com article is shockingly accurate to me, yet the seething comments suggest that many other moms fervently disagree.

The human uterus wasn't meant to carry 20+ pounds (if a full term newborn weighs 7 pounds that leaves 3 pounds for all the other goodies). My womb gave out when my daughters had barely reached 4 pounds each. My placenta, created to nourish my babies, could not sustain the development of these fragile beings.

Multiples are forced to share the womb, a sacred hotel designed for single occupancy, then jockey for space and essential, scarce resources - a process that can have heartbreaking and sometimes devasting outcomes.

This unhealthy competition continues throughout infancy, childhood and into adulthood.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of twin moms like me that had "natural" or "spontaneous" (moms of multiples looove these terms) twins and tons more women that legitimately opt to keep a twin pregnancy after expensive, grueling and exhausting infertility treatments.

Many of my closest friends fall into this category.

And let's face it, twins are fascinating. The news of one baby can send a entire extended family into a frenzy of anticipated excitement; two (or more) can be downright overwhelming!

During my pregnancy, I relished each opportunity to announce there were two in there; the reactions were so raw and human; most women carry one baby, while I unexpectedly conceived two.

After they were born, I was a sight to see, lugging my two infant carriers. It never failed to elicit a look or a comment.

Walking the promenade in Cabo San Lucas Mexico when they were 18 months old, my girls must have felt like celebrities - more than once, enthralled admirers rushed over to us to touch my duplicate daughters, with their pale skin and ringlet blonde curls.
.
My little celebrities (September 2008) 

But I still have a hard time accepting this new "trend" among the rich and famous. Is this similar to the "too posh to push" that made c-sections practically mandatory in hospitals? Will we soon accept multiple pregnancies/births as simply a notch in our sociological evolution?

I believe that all women who want to become mothers should become mothers. But where do we draw the line?
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