I have two kids that are driving. Like, driving a vehicle.
Two of them are driving.
I still have a 12 year old (who is great at driving me to the edge of a cliff) and a 6 year old so I’m not in empty nest territory any time soon, but I’m definitely moving into new parental territory.
Anyway, I keep thinking about the beginning of my motherhood journey. Motherhood was something I wanted but did not plan for. Lee and I had been married for about a year when I got mono, thanks to working at an after-school program for elementary school kids. I was almost three months pregnant before I realized I didn’t have mono anymore, just morning sickness.
My poor husband. He had married this wild and crazy girl who was fun loving and thought everything he did was hilarious. Lee had no clue that one pregnancy test could change a person so completely.
In typical Kara fashion I began researching all aspects of pregnancy and child rearing, which was easy because I was in college majoring in Family Studies*. I became
obsessed with interested in natural childbirth and breastfeeding. Instead of hanging out with friends we spent our time going to Bradley method classes and watching movies while I toughened my nipples with a washcloth.
I think that washcloth was a symbol of the pain I was willing to go through. I was determined to be the best at mothering that I could possibly be, whatever the cost. When our first child came into the world I think I was as shocked as she was. Who knew an episiotomy would hurt so badly? Who knew that the washcloth I had abused myself with would be nothing in comparison to my daughter’s bad latch? Who knew that my husband would try to sleep through the next two years of our daughter’s life pretending not to hear her cry in the night?
I look back and I think two things: Poor Lee, and thank goodness Kiley doesn’t remember her first year because I was nuts.
If Kiley was awake I only wanted classical music playing. I didn’t want to have a television on and if it was on I definitely didn’t want anything violent to be showing. No pacifiers, no bottles, no formula**. NO NO NO NO. Just everything NO.
The minute my urine changed the blank space on the dip stick to a positive sign my molecular structure shifted. Some dormant maternal gene rose up from deep within and insisted that I take action immediately (thus, the washcloth). Lee was on more of a delayed timer. On our way home from the hospital with our new baby girl Lee said, “Why did they just let us leave?” and he actually looked kind of scared as he continually checked the rear-view mirror.
His molecular structure didn’t shift in quite the drastic way that mine did, now that I think about it. I don’t think Lee ever had to pull the car over for fear the seat belt wasn’t tight enough on a kid, and I know he’s never worried that one of them could get sucked out the window. I don’t think he even knows what they eat when I’m not home.
Lee’s shift was a little less intense, I guess.
It’s probably a good thing our second daughter was born when our first one was just two. It forced me to chill the heck out. When you’re nursing a baby and your two year old is demolishing your apartment the t.v. seems like an angel sent from above. When you’re nursing a baby and your two year old brings you a jar of peanut butter and two spoons for lunch it counts as a picnic. Also, yes gets a lot easier when it means you could get a nap or a shower, or both if you play your cards right.
Motherhood is like riding a roller coaster: at first you’re sick to your stomach and thinking it’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done. Once you make it down that first hill, though, you start to let up and have some fun. Suddenly the awesome ride is over and you can’t remember what scared you so much an you jump in line to do it all over again.
At least that’s how it was for me.
Some of the new things that my molecules made happen when I first became a mom didn’t stick. I said goodbye to the nipple-toughening washcloth,and I quit thinking that one of the kids would get sucked through the window. But I’m still pretty weird about seatbelts being buckled properly and I’ll never stop wishing that they wouldn’t watch violent television.***
I am okay with them drinking formula, though. It’s their life.
*Actually, it may not have been Family Studies just then. I changed majors 7 times before graduating with a degree in Family Studies.
**My fourth child had nothing but formula from 6 weeks on. Made me sad, but we both lived and he’s just fine.
** *Although, I do watch The Walking Dead with the hubs and two older kids. For bonding purposes only. It is violent, but also educational.