Years ago, when I began this blog and my son was much younger, I wrote about my cage match with motherhood. Despite our best efforts, motherhood kind of snuck up on me. I’m not ashamed, thanks to years of therapy, to admit that I didn’t actually ever think motherhood would come knocking on my door. And when it did, I had some…adjustment issues. Change has always been my nemesis and the change that occurs when you become a parent is on a level no amount of preparation will prove helpful.
In the early years, the idea that another human being relied completely and solely upon me for all things was borderline earth shattering. Even in pregnancy the fact that my body was no longer my own took more than a little getting used to. Then when my son decided to be born a week late and two days before my own birthday (how rude), I kid you not, this normally level headed, rational, low drama woman became a crazy person in the hospital and sent my husband to the nurses’ station early the morning of my birthday to inform them that no one was to mention it was my birthday. My birthday would not formally begin until I had been discharged and was sobbing holding my newborn son on my own couch and not sobbing holding him in a hospital bed, thank you very much.
My foray into motherhood was a bumpy one. A cage match is how I refer to those early years. I loved my son immensely and yet was constantly baffled at how much chaos and mother loving change he thrusted upon my life. I was a stay at home mom for the first five years of his life, and while I firmly believe each woman is the wisest voice in her own pursuits, for me those first five years probably saved my relationship with my young son. Call it immersion therapy. Those first five years is where we learned how to be a family (yeah, Greg was around in there too). It’s where I learned I could still be everything I loved about myself but now with a permanent sidekick and it’s where I learned there were quite a few things I absolutely hated about myself. Levi was, and still is, this annoyingly honest mirror, where my loyalty, dedication, commitment, love, impatience, self centeredness, grace and short temper are always on display. For the first five years I entered the ring with motherhood and frankly, it kicked my ass.
And then, I got the hang of it. Let’s be clear and well defined here, I didn’t become the perfect mother. Far from it. But I did get comfortable in my own skin as a mother. I lost the shame at the fact that I really hated those mommy and me music classes. I became ok with the fact that I was a mom who needed alone time too. I became enamored with watching the world through his eyes while also firmly staying rooted in my own visions of the world. I found a way to expand my heart to the size of his young one (I have a personal theory that our hearts start out really large and sadly dwindle as we grow older). And I found a way to simply add “motherhood” to my regular cast of character without losing myself to the role. And then that little turd who owned my whole heart grew older.
He went to kindergarten and the world changed again. He grew independent. He made friends whose moms I didn’t know. He started telling me his kindergarten teacher was his favorite person in the world (darn you, Miss Young). He forced me to change…again.
So I adjusted. I went back to work. I became a room mom (one year and one year only). I started writing. I started cooking more. I added other skills to my resume. And I adjusted again. And once again I had this motherhood thing all figured out. Never perfect, but well-adjusted.
And now, he has the audacity to change again. He’s going into middle school. He rolls his eyes at me in front of his friends, and not in a “my mom is so funny” kind of way. Which I am, by the way. When he’s about 21 so many things are going to click for him about what a great time I was as a mom. I’m turning more and more into his personal Uber. I keep his schedule for him. I make sure he has his lunch and his umbrella. Tonight he came home and announced he wants to go to “sleep away camp”. Away from me. And it wasn’t MY idea.
What’s the theme of this month’s post? The only constant in motherhood is the constant of change. And I hate change. And yet, I love him more than any other person on this planet. He forces change on my life in the best ways possible. He simultaneously breaks my heart while forcing me to grow and to trust and to love harder than I imagined.
To be perfectly candid, I didn’t choose motherhood more than 11 years ago. I smelled change in the air and I thought for sure I could avoid it for life. And not every day is perfect. I might have accidentally taught him a new swear word last week when this jerk wouldn’t let me in on the highway. I break his heart more often than I care to admit or will probably ever know. But if this year of writing is about facing those subjects I have wrestled to the ground and stared directly into the face of, I would be remiss to not count motherhood amongst the craziest, most chaotic, most un-Reagan things I have ever done.
I have an unpopular opinion about being parent. You hear people say all the time “I don’t know what life would be like without my child.” I can’t say that. I think I know exactly what life would look like without Levi. And gun to my head, that life wouldn’t have been awful. That Reagan would have been pretty great to know. But she would be a lot different than the Reagan I am today and I like her an awful lot too. And I really love this 11 year old creative bundle of chaos, change and messiness who is insistent upon growing up.
The only constant is change and yet somehow when I look back at the seasons of my life with Levi they seem frozen in time, like somehow I can watch the new version of our lives together alongside the classics that really never change.