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Thursday, April 12, 2018

What's Surprised me Most About Motherhood

There was just he and I

And then there she was.

After years of shots and procedures and hopes up and hopes down, of prayers and tears (so many tears), of hypnosis, acupuncture, novenas, Chinese herbs and doctors (so many), the little wonder arrived last August. Finally, she was here. I was a mother. L was a father. Our family and friends tried to prepare us for what parenthood meant but I don't think it's possible to explain just what it means to be a parent.

I  knew I wou;d love her, be protective of her but I was surprised by just how much changed. I was floored.

I'm an only child. From childhood I was always independent and thankfully God placed the perfect man in my life who knew how to handle someone like me. The two of us along with our little Westie, Emma (2001-2017) made a perfect little family. We traveled more than a million and half miles between us and we forged a pretty cool life, both of us working in the entertainment industry. Between the traveling around the world for work, there were the fertility consultations, shots in airplane bathrooms and pregnancy tests in random hotels around the world. We were always asked "How are you guys going to fit a baby into this lifestyle?" "We'll make it work," we said. "She'll be a great little traveler." Then they laughed.

That is what we expected. Our lives would remain pretty much the same, but with the addition of a child who would easily adapt to our life. She would have to, because we had busy lives to lead,

If you're a parent, I imagine you are laughing (hard) reading this.

It didn't work out quite like this.

I had read the books and booked time with experts. We took the classes and nested. We were physically ready for her but becoming a parent is more than just the physical readiness. I knew that I would learn how to change her diaper in seconds. in the most unusual places. I understood that I would get used to another person's bodily fluids. (Oh, the bodily fluids!). I knew that the white linen dresses and white oxford tops I favored would more than likely be stained with various baby fluids/food. I knew that our lives would change.

What I didn't know is that I would change so much as a person. I feel like I am a different person. I expected that my life would remain kind of the same with this little person joining my daily life. Instead, I feel like I grew up once we had Waverly. The things that I would get upset about or that I thought I valued just fell by the wayside.

I remember there was this moment after Waverly was born. It was a hot August day, early in the morning, when the dew is still cool on the grass. We were in the hospital and I was holding Wave. L was asleep on the partner bed and it was just she and I, awake staring at each other. The sun was just coming up as I held her. I closed my eyes. She was tucked inside the blankets on my chest and I inhaled her scent.

It was that moment when something changed in me. I was her mother. That was what mattered the most.  I suddenly had clarity into what was important in my life.  It was clear to me that my goal in life was to be a better person so that I could raise a child who was resilient, confident, kind, smart, brave, independent and compassionate. I wanted to be the kind of person she could look up to.  It's such a hard thing to describe. It's like for my entire life I saw the world in a fuzzy way but I didn't know that this wasn't the way it was supposed to me. Then someone handed me glasses and everything shifted into perfect clarity.

Every morning that I wake up now, I think "How can I make this child's life better? What can I do to ensure that she feels loved and secure? What can I do to make her environment better?" Once you are a parent, you discover this strength that you didn't know that you had. I do believe I could lift a car off of her if I had to.

I am surprised by this. After all that happened in my life around 2009 (the collapse of what I thought was the perfect life), what I realize is that life isn't just about making yourself happy. It's about making the world around you a better place. It's about making the lives of the people in your world better just because you are in it. I think about this and how my decisions today will reflect in Waverly's life and in L's and in the people who are in our world, the people who helped us become the family we are today. The ripples of goodness, of light, of happiness just keep going in perpetuity.

I hope that one day Waverly looks back on her life and remembers all the moments when she felt safe and happy, when I ignored the dusting and the blogging to just sit with her in the sunshine and admire a ladybug on her pudgy little fingertip. In that moment, I will look at her and I will be ever grateful that I got the great privilege in this life of being her mother.

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