There are firsts for everything. Some more life changing than others. Some pretty life altering firsts are: first A on your report card, first hickey, first time driving alone with the music blaring, windows down and singing at the top of your lungs, first day living on your own, first day of marriage, first diaper change and first writing contest. Ok, maybe first writing contest isn’t such a big deal for some of you but for me, it’s big. Because I never was a writer and you’re not supposed to enter a contest if it’s not something you do Well. And honestly, I probably wouldn’t be doing this one if the topic for the contest wasn’t one that I thought I’d KICK ASS in. But it is. Jill over at her amazing blog Scary Mommy is running a contest to see who along with her, is seriously a scary mommy (although I haven’t quite figured out what makes her so scary, she’s just hysterical, but I’ll just go with it). I however, am scary. And I should win. And you’ll see why below. And after you read it and totally 100% agree with me, head on over to her blog and vote for me so that I can win the coolest video camera and some of the blankets that Luke drags around with him all day every day because they are the best blankets ever invented and I need more of them. Got it? Good. Oh and to help the slower of you out there, I’ve highlighted in orange any derivation of “scary” that I write to help you follow along as to why and how I’m in fact scary. You’re welcome.
Before I had kids, I did. not. like. kids. There really was nothing about them that I liked. Little babies were more like creatures in my book that I felt so awkward around. They couldn’t make eye contact with me (which in my book is just plain rude), their limbs were always moving around uncontrollably (making me want to shout, “would you SIT STILL already?”), they made weird noises, they made offensive smells and worst of all, they cried every time I held them (which was not good for my reputation on the streets). So instead of being put in the situation where I’d be confronted with any of this, I usually just avoided the situation. I’d smile politely when introduced to “Baby Xeus” (I needed to ensure here that no one anywhere near me in my life would think I was referring to THEIR child – thus this name I’ve chosen) and comment on the adorability (yes that’s a word) of the baby but slowly, carefully, back away before I was expected to “talk baby”, touch the baby or worst of all, hold the baby. Toddlers, although less delicate, weren’t much better in my book. I never understood what the hell they were trying to say and they talked far too much. I never had anything to say that I thought they’d find interesting and just felt insecure that everything I did or said around them they’d call my bluff on and they’d think, “this lady is so lame and has no idea how to talk to a 3 year old” (yes my insecurities ran deep). I was a scared “Pre-Mommy”.
I did know that I wanted kids though. I knew they came after marriage (my mom always sang that little song about first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby and the baby carriage and I took all of those nursery rhymes to heart. I am actually still feeling quite sad about Humpty Dumpty and Little Jack Horner for their troubled lives). But I didn’t know how I’d make it work with all of these fears, distastes and issues I had with infants and toddlers. I was scared. And January 2, 2005 was the LAST day that I felt this kind of fear. Because then January 3, 2005 happened. And Dr. D uttered the words, “It’s a Girl”. And that girl (who I tried on the delivery table to change her name to Olivia even though Tim and I had agreed for 9 months her name would be Hannah – see that’s even scary) was placed in my arms and I did not feel an ounce of fear. I felt Mesadorovion (I like to make up words like this – it’s a combination of mesmerized, adoration, love and passion). This was my girl. And I told myself that day that I would do everything in my power to make sure nothing would make her unhappy in her world (unrealistic much?). That she would only feel the good things. And not a day would go by that I wouldn’t love and adore her. And this actually worked for a good long time. She was an amazing baby. Patient, sweet, cuddly, rarely sick, calm, careful, verbal and oh so chubby with folds within her folds so that in the summer when you flattened out her folds she had tan lines where her folds were (I know, that has nothing to do with being an amazing baby but the imagery is important here too). I loved that girl. I was (and still am) obsessed with that girl. Not only did I WANT to hold her but I never wanted anyone else to hold her. I didn’t want anyone else to spend time with her without me around. I didn’t want anyone else to enjoy a “first” with her if I couldn’t enjoy it too. I would make the excuse that I had to nurse her to escape for 30 minutes alone with her. No one could get her dressed if I hadn’t picked out her outfit. No one could tell me anything about her without my saying, “I already knew that”. Watch out if I called whoever may have been caring for her while I was at work or out for a short time and they didn’t answer their phone. I needed constant contact, constant supervision. People had to watch very carefully what they said about her because this mom would jump right to her defense. Her poop smells bad? “Not my girl!” She’s pronouncing something wrong? “That’s the way 18 month olds Say It!” She shouldn’t be waking at 4:30 every morning at 20 months? ” Oh, well, it’s just the way she’s wired.” I shouldn’t give into her every whim?”Try to stop me.” No one could make any parenting suggestion because I. Knew. Best.
I was scary.
When Hannah hit 2 I decided I wanted to have another baby. I was pretty secure in the fact that babies were my thing now. And I was “broken”. At least that’s how I described it. I wasn’t ovulating. Not getting my period. Couldn’t get pregnant. I started all the fertility treatments. I took all the drugs that made me a moody, emotional, miserable and scary wife. I had a new obsession… getting pregnant. And I did 3 times and lost them. And I cried and cried for months on end. I did a round of IVF and I had to cancel it because the drugs didn’t work. And I held onto Hannah every night feeling so happy and lucky to have her but so devastated that she wouldn’t be able to share her world with a sibling and I wouldn’t be able to share mine with another child. I made her feel like the end all be all in my world but at the same time wanted more and I’m pretty sure she could feel that. I told my fertility doctor he HAD to make it work. So we tried one last time. And a miracle happened. The doc told me not to get my hopes up but I did, and it worked. It worked so well actually that I had triplets inside of me for a time (“what the fuck am I going to do now” was what was going through my head for those 6 weeks) and then sadly 2 of them didn’t make it. It was a conflict of emotions that I could never describe. Three more babies didn’t seem feasible to me but losing them after all I went through, also devastating. But one did make it. And it truly was a miracle. But I was petrified. Every night I had to give myself a shot in my tush to increase the chances that the baby would survive (part of the joys of IVF) and with every stick of that (enormous) needle in my ass, I told myself it was worth it because I’d have my new baby. And I was scary obsessed with taking care of it inside me. This time around I read EVERYTHING (where with Hannah ignorance was bliss). I ate all the right things and none of the wrong ones. I did everything I “was supposed to do”. And Luke was born on 4/23/08.
I read all of the sibling books, how to transition the new baby into a family of already 3. How to make the big sibling comfortable and loved while the new baby required so much. I spoiled Hannah silly when Luke arrived especially after she said to me the day Luke came home, “Who is going to love ME now?” which was like a dagger through my heart. I took Hannah to pedicures with me, took her out to ice cream, bought her new baby dolls to love along with me as I loved Luke next to her, I carried her on my right hip while Luke was on my left. I was her friend. Her best friend. But I wasn’t doing such a good job as her MOM. I didn’t set boundaries. I didn’t set limits. I let her get away with way too much. And now, on many days, guess who is in charge? She is. And it’s scary.
Only in the past 4 months or so have I really buckled down with her and have had to remind myself over and over and over that I am her mom first, her friend second. But it doesn’t come naturally to me. She throws these tantrums. Indescribable tantrums. And I have always swept her from the floor, held her in my arms and rocked her until the tears dissolve on her cheeks and she can move on. My mom has shook her head with concern (and some disapproval I’m sure while I do this) but again, no one can tell ME how to parent. I then would cook her her favorite meal, buy her a new toy, paint her toenails and make it all better. Such an easy Bandaid. It’s what she expects. She figured out my weaknesses at 4 years old. SHE’S scary (this would have been much easier actually if it was the “Scary Daughter” contest). But I’m calling her on it. Because little Luke looks on at these shenanigans and is soaking it up, letting it sink in and is going to Have At It when he gets the chance I’m sure. And I can’t have two of these tantrumming children getting everything from their “Friend”.
So mommy is Stepping Up. There’s a new sheriff in town. And she’s a new kind of scary. She speaks sternly. She puts kids on the naughty step. She takes away toys. She doesn’t tell night night stories on a bad day. She says, “I’m not liking you right now” to her kids. She Loses It. She doesn’t give choices for dinner (well sometimes she does). She might seem like the “norm” to many of you. but she is in fact scary to me and my kids. And I have a pit in my stomach most days as I set her loose on my kids.
Holy crap have I rambled. And now that I’ve reread this, I’m pretty sure I won’t “win” because most of the other posts in this contest have gotten straight to the point of their scariness. But it’s very much like me to take the long way… but I do have a point that (again for the slower folks) I’ll explain. Being a mom is scary from even before day one that you’re a mom. And scary lives through every day of being a mom. And I’m sure it will get even more scary (my mom can certainly attest to the fact that I may be at my scariest now!). But it’s ok to be scared and scary because we would all have FAR too many kids if it was always not scary. And who needs all of those stinky, shaky, babbling, breakable little things running around?