Motherhood is a tricky beast and this week it has gnawed on me. Today I give you a small example. Without a mid-week lunch with a friend, a long car conversation, and a healthy dose of kicking my own ass, this morning might have broken me.
Veteran Mothers (anyone with a kid older than your kid) swear you’ll get it right. They swear your gut will kick in. They swear you’ll know what to do. They promise your old weaknesses won’t apply to your own kids. You fear blood? Makes you pass out and vomit? When your kid bleeds, you’ll attack the issue without a hint of queasiness. That’s what Veteran Moms tell you as you cry your fears during the pregnancy. And the woman wipes your tears and gives you gentle mothering pat, “You’ll be fine, dear. You’ll just do it.” They always add, “And you’ll be fantastic at it.” I know this because I’ve heard it and I’ve said it. I don’t want to handle blood in our house. When Becks gets a nose bleed (which are always heavy and last forever), Mark handles it. But when he’s not here, I handle it. I never puke in my mouth. I pull it together and stay with him until I get it to stop. Motherhood made me overcome my ickiness.*
Veteran Mom have to say this junk. It keeps our species alive. For the most part, it is true. Your gut does kick in. You’re shocked by this new ability to care, clean, love, referee, deal with bodily fluids, do a bunch of shit at the same time, and mother. But even if you think someone would be a shit Mom, the last thing you want to do is share your opinion. Most important, it probably isn’t true. You never know how motherhood will work out. And the last thing a pregnant woman wants to hear is, “No shit you can’t be a good Mom! You care too much about yourself. Jeez.” You’d get murdered and no one would blame the Preggers. I wouldn’t. Even if she would be a shit mom.
I’m here to say that Veteran Moms can be full of shit. If I tell you something, I’m full of shit. It worked for me. I might not work for you. But I know they’re full of shit because today I couldn’t help my kid. Remember my wiggly tooth post? I figured when/if the time came, I could suck it up and help. Guess what? I couldn’t. This morning, Mark left with Becks and Coop went to eat his breakfast. He stopped and said his tooth was too loose to eat. “We’ll have Daddy look at it tonight. Eat on your other side.” I responded as I took my first sip of coffee. He tried and started to tear up, “I can’t. Please pull it.” Great. Great. “We can’t wait?” More slow tears, “No.” I know slow tears mean he’s in pain, so I gave myself an internal pep talk. You can do this. Your his Mom. Come on. Just do it. Pull it! Be a good Mom, pull it. We walked to the bathroom and I asked again, “You can’t wait?” I wadded up some toilet paper. “Which one?” I asked because I had never looked at it. “Really? Ok… I can do this.” I kept asking and saying. “How about you try first?” I asked him. And gave him my internal pep talk minus the Mom crap (I didn’t need to make any of us feel shitter). A few failed attempts, him passing me the toilet paper, me saying “You can do it”, me never touching the tooth, and one nice pull later it tumbled out. Thankfully, he caught it. At the time, I tried to make myself feel better by thinking I taught him independence or problem solving. But that felt selfish in the morning. In the end, I couldn’t do it. I made my kid pull his own tooth. I felt really crappy for the first part of the morning. A good Mom would have pulled the tooth. We’ve all heard stories of Moms lifting cars off their children. A decent one could yank out a baby tooth. This morning, I realized this Mom couldn’t overcome a silly fear even if her kid begged.
Here’s something I wish Veteran Moms would say to the pregnant woman: Just because you’re someone Mom’s doesn’t always mean you have to be a completely unselfish, super human, all loving, unshakably patient, or powerful. Motherhood reminds you that you’re human. More than when you were twenty. When you twenty, death and danger were things reserved for stupid people on the news. You never thought you’d die at 21, it’s why you went to a strange hockey player’s roof. When you’re mother human traits seem to loom larger. Death, mistakes, passion, unselfish love and the doing the right thing rules your life. Realizing that can be daunting, frightening, and overwhelming. For the most part, a mother is a pillar of unquestionable strength. But sometimes you’re the same girl you’ve always been. Maybe the key is to not feel guilty about that. Maybe not worry about it. Maybe keep those qualities and put a Mothering spin on them. Maybe remember you don’t have to be 100% different from your core to be a Mother. Maybe remember the girl you were was pretty awesome. My kid pulled his own tooth. If that ruins his childhood, I’m sorry. But today, I did teach him a valuable lessons. He’s capable. And when he isn’t in areas that I am, I’ll pick up the slack. I’ve been doing a decent job the past 6 years. And I’ll keep doing the best I can until my heart stops.
And that’s something no Veteran Mom needs to tell you because it just happens.
*Let’s cut the sugary shit. Blood made me overcome because I had to. Not motherhood. Not because it gave me some crazy loving power. Who was going to stop the fucking nose bleed if I wasn’t here? Not Becks. I had to or else our house would look like an episode of Dexter. I’m not replacing carpet because I don’t like blood. I stop them when Mark isn’t around.