Thursday, May 10, 2012

I am mother, hear me brag!


“Learning you were wrong…”
You know the theme song from the Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast, that begins with “Tale as old as time…”? That came on today on Pandora while I folded laundry as Thumper crawled from toy to toy. I memorized the lyrics when the movie came out, and I found myself singing along with it. Don’t you love singing to songs from yesteryears? It’s like a surprise visit from an old friend.

But this old friend had another surprise. It unleashed brand new emotions I hadn’t felt before when I sang these lines:

“…bittersweet and strange, finding you can change, learning you were wrong…”

Something in me yelled, Yes! Yes! Yes!

These words, once mere lyrics from a movie about change and redemption, now hold so much more meaning to my life. I was once that girl who held steadfast a belief that I could never change my past, so the demons it brought me would always be tied to me.

I didn’t like that part of me much, but I didn’t think I could do anything about it either. 

At age 20, I thought it was too late – I was too old to change. And I thought that at 22, 23, 24… 30, 31, 32… I didn’t think it could ever happen.

But it did. I was 35.

Little victories
I changed so I could keep my family. My Guy did the same. We both fought our demons and won. And we’re proof that change can happen.

As a result, other than having this amazing family in my life, I also quite like the person I’ve become. I’m also unbelievably grateful for the chance at this sweet, new beginning.

Of all the things that I have done as a mom (and partner), this change has got to be one of the things of which I’m the proudest. I couldn’t have done it without my family. Not only were they the reasons I needed to change, they were also the ones who helped me get there.

You know what else I’m proud of as a mom? The fact that my daughters love food and that they aren’t picky. Maybe it’s DNA, but maybe it’s how we’ve been with them at mealtimes, but when I see Little Miss requesting shumai, mussels, broccoli, rainbow chard, curry, or shrimp, I beam. And I can’t help but take some of that credit.

I also love that they sleep well at night. I fought my own urge to eschew sleep training (how cruel, as some would say, to leave a baby crying in the crib) but it was the best decision for our family, with both girls. Now they’re happy little sleepers (when they rest, they’re the best!), and that means everyone’s happy. 

Also, despite my incredibly rough start with breastfeeding (both times!), I managed to stay on course and nursed Little Miss until she was 13 months. My aim was 12. I worked full time so I mostly pumped because we were apart for the bulk of the day. And boy did I hate pumping. Yet I held on. It was important to me. Thumper is almost one now, and she’s still going strong.

As a working mom, I barely saw my Little Miss but in the two hours we spent together each week day, I made sure it was the best two hours of our day. And I still managed to make dinner for the family every evening and get her to bed on time.

Last week, because of a killer sore throat (which lasted 12 painful days, by the way) I made a conscious decision to be better about the way I communicate with my daughters. Less yelling, more speaking. More kindness. And you know what? I’ve not yelled once since.

Tough gig
Wait. Sorry. Does this make you uncomfortable? That I am going on and on about what an awesome mom I am?

I didn’t mean to make you squirm. I just spend a lot of time beating myself up about how I can be better, how I could have done something differently, how I always aspire to rise above where I am, that I think I need to give myself a little break. Cut me some slack, and turn my focus on the positive.

This parenting thing? It’s H.A.R.D. You know that. And we make it worse sometimes by feeling guilty about everything. I often feel that I don’t do enough, and I overlook the moments when I do. And that I am. Enough. Or good. Heck, even wonderful for my girls.

Somehow, when we’re proud of something we do as a parent, it’s not kosher to “brag”. We don’t like people who pat themselves on the back. Sometimes though, if we don’t, no one will. That’s another parenting truth.

Some people just expect well behaved children. Expect emotional intelligence in kids. Expect them to grow into responsible adults who contribute to society.

Well, what do they think helps to make sure all that happens? Magic? Sesame Street?

Yet we’re not allowed to congratulate ourselves for all the work that goes into this. 

So yes. Tough gig. Let’s give ourselves a break.

Talk, shout, roar!
But in honor of Mother’s Day, let’s do more than that. Don’t just give ourselves a break from all the bad; let’s celebrate the good.

Let’s do that by talking about it. Ourselves. Right here. Right now.

Tell me your proudest moments and accomplishments as a mom. Brag. Feel good about what you do or did.

You are woman. You are mother. Now let’s hear you roar.

* * *

Happy Mother’s Day!

p.s. if you don’t feel like roaring, no worries. Chime in any way you like. Tell me about your own mother. We’re celebrating all mothers here after all.