Ten years ago today, my life changed completely. Oh, it has certainly had other major altering moments since then, for sure. But there is something about that first day, that first instant when you become a parent that is like no other. People may tell you before you have kids that parenthood will turn life upside-down, will make “important things” in your no-kid world suddenly unimportant. But you don’t get it until you get it.
The moment you lay eyes on that sweet baby of yours, your life is not your own. Their needs, wishes, desires, and demands come first, no matter what time of day or night or how recently you had just met their needs, wishes, desires, and demands. I had a good friend that told me just prior to Madeline being born that during her middle of the night moments with her kids, she would think about all of the other Mommies in the world up with their babies at the same time. It was like a secret club of Motherhood of which you were then a member.
And in those nighttime feedings, you start to dream about what your child will become in life and where the road might take them.
I’d think about the journeys those tiny feet would take, first across the living room floor and then perhaps around the world. Will I marvel at her gymnastics skills? Will she be a super soccer star? Or will then tread softly in the library or research lab, looking for ways to improve the world in which we live?
Her tiny hand, laying still by her side now but grasping at my fingers, or nose, or lips when she’s awake – what will those hands do? Will they keep their gentle ways, nurturing others?
Or will they stretch and reach for new adventures? Will they grasp the rungs of the ladder that other women have made for her generation to climb and discover new things?
Madeline would often wake up for her naps and study the patters and shapes on a booklet that I had got in the mail from Pampers.
She would study it so intently. I would watch her and wonder how she would be as a student in school. Would she watch her teachers so intently? Will she enjoy studying patterns, learning new things?
As she pulled at hair that was barely there, it was as if God was winking at me by giving her a behavior that is somewhat consistent within my family. It was an acknowledgment that she was part of a great, long chain of experiences and people – a connection to past that she will pass on to the future.
It was clear fairly early on that she also got my “spazy” gene as well. I guess that’s a part of the legacy of the family as well. (Sorry, girls.)
So today, on Madeline’s 10th Birthday, I thank all of the people in my life who have helped me on the journey of motherhood. Those who passed along wise advise, created much-needed kid products, wrote bedtime stories that soothed or calmed cranky babies, sang lullabies that sent little ones to sleepy land, answered phone calls from frantic parents about what to do when a mobile baby maybe ate a tiny pine cone, watched kids so a Mom could go to the bathroom/take a shower/go to the grocery store, or just were a great example on how to be a good Mom. I was watching and trying to take mental notes along the way.
Just as I know that Madeline (and Zoe) are watching me.