Jan 29, 2011

Mothering is a two way street

Two and a half years ago The Beautiful Redhead was my oldest child at home, the Grand Finale had turned 11, and life had kind of settled down to a routine that I was able to keep up with.  My kids were out of the "little" stage and I could come home and actually sit down, even LAY down, on the couch if I wanted. 
I had been through the stages of early motherhood, where I was driven to have everything perfect, or at least as near as possible to perfect as I could get it, and thought everything needed to be clean and put up at all times.  Four kids will get you through that stage a little faster than one.  I do not have any science (!) to back this up, but you can take it from me that it is true.
I noticed, though, that now that I *could* take it easy, that's all I ever did.  My house wasn't as clean as it used to be, true, but it didn't NEED to be as clean as it used to be.  And Lord knows the kids didn't appreciate or even seem to notice if I did clean it.  I was drifting, so to speak, and was not concerned that I was going in a bad direction.  I just noticed the change.  As women at a certain stage of life tend to do.
Most of my life it seemed like "life" was something that was coming at me constantly and it was usually all I could do to keep up with it.  Now there seemed to be a lull, time to look around and actually see what was going on instead of having to react to crisis situations all the time.
The Beautiful Redhead was working with a girl who had just had her first baby and, kindly, had offered to babysit said baby so her co-worker and her husband could have a night out.
I suggested the co-worker bring the baby to our house so I could supervise, as The Beautiful Redhead had a heart that was very kind, but not a lot of practical experience with newborns.
That baby's  name was Abigail Lea and she was three weeks old the night I met her.  This night was also positioned in such a way that it was the first time I had had a newborn baby all to myself (pretty much) in YEARS.  I held that baby all night.  I unwrapped her and counted all her tiny little fingers and toes, I inhaled her captivating scent, I rubbed my face on her sweet little head.  I laughed and cried and talked to her all night. I rocked her and sang all the old songs I sang to my own babies.  I flat fell in love with her. 

The Cyclist was a little nervous.  I think he thought I had lost my mind.  Luckily, I was thinking enough to make him smell her head, and she got him too.  Oh, he pretended to hold out, don't get me wrong.  When she got old enough to toddle over and lift her arms to him he would put up his hands and say "No, no, we're not having any of that", which of course fascinated her (as he knew it would) and made him a challenge to her.  She had never seen anyone who was immune to her charms before.  I pretended I didn't know that trick and let them establish their own rapport.
We have been her willing slaves ever since. 

Because I noticed that if I was going to have that baby I would get off the couch.  I would clean.  I would pick everything up off the floor and make sure I had food that she liked in the house.  I *had* to, for that baby.

It occured to me that without my realizing it, I had finally grown into the woman I had wanted to be, but never felt like I really was.  While I wasn't looking, I had gotten over all the longing and yearning for "someday, when the kids were grown", and become absolutely content and proud to be exactly where and what I was.  I had left my own selfish wishes behind, without regret, only to embrace being the nurturer that I used to resent having to be. 
I had gotten goooood at it.  I could do this.  Whether that baby projectile vomited all over me and my house or got choked, I knew exactly what to do.  And I could even ENJOY it, because I wasn't the least bit scared anymore.

Being a mother will do that to you.

When you see a woman mothering a child, you may think she is taking care of that baby.  That's what it looks like, and she is taking care of that baby.  But holding and nurturing that baby is taking care of her also.  It's a two way street, and one that had no set route.  You figure it out as you go, accomodating each other along the way. Because of this love you will move a mountain or get down on your knees to scrub the floor, whatever it takes, for as long as you need to.  Not because you have to.  You don't, actually, have to.  You do it because you want to for that baby.  And you would do it forever, for them.  And they don't have to be your own, either. This is the miracle of putting someone else's welfare ahead of your own.  I believe it is tantamount to having an honorable life.

One morning I watched that baby wake up, look over and see the Cyclist, and very carefully lay her sweet head down on his chest.  He knew enough not to move a muscle, and she went back to sleep right there.  I also knew that had never happened to him before.  I cried.  I think he went back to sleep but I know it's one of those moments that he will never, ever, forget and that it touched his heart in a way nothing ever had before and probably never will again.

This is the kind of thing children give you.

And that's how I got a pretend grandbaby.

She commands us with a merciful hand.  She doesn't ask for much.  She laughs and smiles and claps her hands if you have, say, a bananna in the house.  Or a boiled egg.  If you take her to Wal Mart, she throws her hands in the air in a "touchdown" salute and says "YAY"!  She spends a lot of time in the tub with bubbles and her toothbrush.  The world is a better place for having her in it.  These days her first question upon getting to "MiMi's house" is "Where's the boyeez?" 
Those boys, who were my babies, now have a little one who thinks they are 10 feet tall and stronger than superman.  They give piggyback rides and wrestle and give her old video game controllers that don't work. The fact that she doesn't know that, and thinks they hung the moon doesn't bother anybody one bit.

And we are still rolling along, I'm still cooking and cleaning and have finally gotten comfortable with crayon marks on the walls and stains on the couch.  Why?

Because I know what's really important.

My best advice, if your kids are older and you don't have grandkids yet, is to go out and find a pretend grandbaby of your own.  There are plenty of mother's out there that could use someone they could trust to watch their child, even for an hour or two.  I do not believe you will ever regret it.  In fact, I believe it will be good for not just you, but the child, the mother, and ultimately the world.

PS.  For the people who are following my e cigarette journey, I skipped the "medium" cartridges and went straight to the "low".  I think I smoke more vapor at at time this way, but haven't had any more or worse cravings, or noticed any fallout from "stepping down", so next time I buy cartridges I'm going to get the water vapor only with no nicotine.