The initial impact of parenthood snuck up and smacked me upside the head. No one was as stunned as Mr. Wonderful and I as the day we were told that the “me” that had only recently become “we” would soon become “three.”
We had talked about starting a family in a very abstract “someday” kind of way. Nonetheless, when we discovered we were expecting just six months after our wedding, there was more than a moment of stunned silence.
We were in our in 20s, happily married, had a house, a “safe” car and by all normal measures, were more than “ready” to start a family. As a result, no one fainted, wailed, lectured us, or worried about how we were going to “make it.”
We further prepared for the baby like all young couples by loading up with lots of baby items (some of it useless) and well-meant advice (most of it necessary). Like most overzealous worriers, we tried to plan down to the last baby wipe just what kind of impact this baby would have on our lives.
What we failed to calculate was that while I was worrying about changing the baby, I failed to see how the baby would change me.
Parenting is inspiring, exciting and exhilarating. It’s also exhausting, confusing and demoralizing. You are sometimes made to feel guilty when you put yourself first. Can’t Mom just have a minute? ONE STINKIN’ MINUTE TO HERSELF?
Can’t Mommy keep some semblance of her former life without having someone (even if only the voices in her head) chime in “Your life has changed forever” in a patronizing tone?
Yes, life has changed forever — life has changed for everyone because of this new life — but that doesn’t mean I have to give up my identity. Does it? DOES IT?
Of course it does.
The “old me” ceased to be on the morning of my firstborn’s birth when a nurse returned my newborn to me, scrubbed pink and swaddled like a small, sturdy cotton burrito. She sailed into the room and presented me to him (and not, it is worth noting, the other way around) with the exclamation “Here’s Mommy!”
Like most newly minted mothers I was momentarily taken aback — “Was someone’s mom in the room?”
“How did I not hear her sneak in here?” — before realizing that I was now “somebody’s mom.”
At birth, our parents gave us names to identify us. We have carried that name since our first days on Earth. Family and friends know us by first names, last names, or nicknames.
At the time I became somebody’s mother, I had been Kym, Kymberly or Miss Foster for 28 years and Mrs. Seabolt for six months. I had never, ever been “Matthew’s mom” and then, overnight, I was.
Almost immediately, I lost my identity. No longer was I addressed as Kymberly or Kym but, rather, as “Matthew’s mother.” Doctor’s, teachers, fellow parents, coaches, classmates and friends all address me as such. I have jokingly responded to “Are you Matthew’s mom?” with a cheery “Yep, that’s what it says on my driver’s license.”
Little children will wave at me in the post office or the grocery store, “Hi, Matthew’s mom!”
I have even been approached by people who peer at me as if they recognize me and say “Hey, I know you!” or “Why do I know you?” as my head grows larger by the second, and just as I am ready to draw myself up and say (modestly of course) “Well you probably recognize me from the NEWSPAPER,” they will inevitably snap their fingers and say “Oh, now I know! You’re Matthew’s mom!”
This is not to say that I am not a diverse, colorful and well-rounded individual. I am often referred to as “Kassie’s mom,” too. I guess if you are to become famous for something, being somebody’s parent is a respectable endeavor.
I have been Matthew’s Mom for 4,016 days. In all these 4,016 days, I have awoken every single morning still thrilled — and somewhat stunned — to be “Matthew’s mom” (and later, “Kassie’s mom,” too).
It is said that in becoming a parent, you lose a part of yourself. I suspect this is very much true. You lose yourself in the sheer unadulterated joy and blessing of this child (or children) you have been given.
No matter what you answer to, being somebody’s mom is a pretty great gift, indeed.
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