There are certain moments in life that are so completely crystal clear that it becomes impossible to forget them. Trust me, some I'd like to forget but can't and then there's some moments that I cling so tightly to when I find myself questioning my strength. Here's one--February 27th, 2006, the eve before I became a mother. I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned and not just because I was a swollen mess but because I knew this was it. The moment I had waited for. I laid there next to Eugene, the absolute love of my life and realized that though he and I rely on each other for pretty much everything, only I can be her mother. I had spent the last 9 months reading every book published on taking care of children-yet not one of them taught me how to be a good mother. Sure, I could recite the step by step instructions to getting rid of a nasty diaper rash but how to be a mother your children would respect was freakin' foreign to me. Still is, sometimes.
I laid awake for hours that night, my last remaining moments as a care-free, irresponsible adult wondering what type of mother I wanted to be. And as nervous as I was about my c-section scheduled only hours away, the excitement started to build. The excitement that had been suppressed for so many years. This was my time. This was what I was going to kick ass at. I had no idea how, but I knew that I would.
That following morning, my new journey began.
On my last day in the hospital I met a woman who lead a new mom's group and she encouraged me to attend once I was released. I politely thanked her and stuffed her card among all the other breastfeeding pamphlets and postpartum fact sheets into the plastic hospital bag that laid on my bedroom floor for a week after I returned home.
After feeling an overwhelming sense of cabin fever I searched for her card and attended my first class. It felt great to get out of the house and it felt reassuring to hear that other moms felt the same way I did. We laughed, we confessed and we were given a homework assignment. What the hell?! As if waking up every three hours wasn't enough HOMEWORK, I needed to add this to my to-do list. I think I even rolled my eyes when I heard it.
Write a promise to your new child, a motherhood mission.
As the days followed after that meeting I knew that I would regret it if I didn't write it down. This was my chance to put it in writing. So on March 9, 2006 I did--and I'm forever grateful for that woman who made me do it because it has kept me grounded ever since--well, for the most part. And in case our house goes up in a nasty flame and I lose the frame these words are held in, here they are...
A Mother's Promise
Right now I am your leader. I believe that leadership is more important than friendship. But rest assure Bella, we will be friends one day. The very best of friends.
I believe the biggest form of punishment is stifling a child's freedom of expression. I want to support you in all that you do and help guide you to make the best decisions for yourself.
I believe that helping others helps yourself. Bella, be thankful for what you have and know how important it is to share your wealth with others.
Respect yourself. I believe this just may be my undying quest for you. Always, always, always respect yourself. And your mother :)
Integrity. Live everyday with integrity Bella. This is such an important quality to have. This is why I fell in love with your father.
Right now you are my only child. Therefore, my focus everyday is on you. However, there will come a time when you are not my only focus, when I have to focus on my other children. You should not feel hurt. I will love all of you equally. But I will never forget how we went through this for the first time, together.
Bella, I promise to show you the world. We will travel.
I also promise that one day you can see the world on your own. It will change your life.
Three children later and a file full of mothering experiences--I try everyday to live up to the ideal mom I wanted to be. Some days I do and some days I don't. And that's okay. As long as I know which direction I'm headed in!
Trust me, it's never too late to write your mission.