I was going through pictures tonight hoping to find one of myself and my mother. I don’t have one with her past the age of four because, well, that’s pretty much where our story ends and whatever craziness between her and my father picked up. I use to hide behind the disclaimer that Mothers day was just a Hallmark holiday that gave people a reprieve from the appreciation they should be extending beyond one day a year. But, that was before I got it, before I realized what this whole mother things was about.
I was never one of those children that played house and had three or four pretend kids and a husband. I was always a secretary named Debbie and I’m not sure what I did after work but it wasn’t going home to be domestic. When we played MASH and I ended up having 5 kids married to Rick Springfield I was more concerned with how in the hell we were all going to fit in a shack and how to get a car seat in my Ferrari. Even that far back it wasn’t how many kids I had but how I was going to care for them. I should have known I was a realist from an early age. So, I never really had a plan for having kids…I just figured I’d have one or some…..someday.
Fast forward to someday. In the Air Force, first duty station, living in the dorms, doing dumb Airman stuff and had a baby before I sewed on A1C. I don’t think I was ever immature and if I was that was gone after 37 minutes of pushing. Let’s rewind a little to before the whole pushing part. Laps in judgment with someone that was not for me that resulted in a marriage that should have never happened. I pushed the rings under the bathroom door, where I had myself locked in, and told him that it wasn’t a good idea. He pushed them back and said it was going to be fine. Lies. I don’t think we ever got to fine- we hovered somewhere between fucking miserable and I want to smother you in your sleep. Lesson here is to trust your intuition-if it doesn’t feel right and you want to barf then don’t do it but go ahead and barf if you still feel like you have to. Ok, back to post push.
I don’t think I was any different from any other new mother. I went to the doctor for shit I should have waited out and let me tell you, I’m so thankful Web MD wasn’t a thing back then because that poor baby would have been rushed to the hospital for polio or some other disease that she was immunized for based on her symptoms. An uninterrupted shower or even pooping by myself were little pieces of heaven and even though I dreamt of bed time I just couldn’t put her in her crib before I rocked her just 10 more minutes. I was broke, tired, and in the moments I thought I couldn’t handle one more thing a new day came. That little bald head with a two teeth smile standing up in her crib….it was in those moments I started to realize that there is always sunshine after the rain and she was that and so much more.
And then there were two. I can remember the day Riley was born…..Lauren tied her shoes, put on her back pack, and walked out the door for kindergarten….and I was starting all over again. I had a very serious WTF moment and then went to the hospital to have a baby. The five years between them had taught me how to manage expectations a little better. Birth plan? Nah. Playing Yatzee on my stomach between contractions? Yes. I wouldn’t say kid two was any easier but again, it was a different time, under different circumstances, and I was a different person. I felt like I had my life together and whether or not I really did was irrelevant.
Those two. They have scared me half to death, pissed me off to new levels yet given me the best memories, kept my heart full, and the laughs…oh how we have laughed. Some things weren’t always laughable until after the fact like when Lauren came in from playing outside and said her stomach hurt and then proceeded to throw up red iccee and chicken nuggets all over the couch, down the hall, on the bathroom floor….basically every where that wasn’t the toilet. Or when Riley was two and running around naked after his bath playing with stuff in the kitchen and I heard this odd “ugh”. I turned around to find the lever operated ice cream scooper over his little man parts. Upon further investigation he had some ball skin stuck…..OMG. I don’t have balls, I don’t know the rules so I called the one person who could help, his dad. He was at work so I tried to make it short and sweet. It went like this:
Him: Air Force Recruiting how can I help you?
Me: How sensitive is ball skin?
Him: I’m at work I can’t talk dirty right now
Me: For fucks sake your son has his nuts stuck in the ice cream scooper
Him: Whatever you do Rachel don’t pull
Gee, thanks for the help-you’re not quite the nut wizard I thought you were. And, give me some credit-if I was going to talk dirty the last thing I’m going to talk about is ball skin (insert eye roll).
All I could think of was how to get him to the doctor. I couldn’t put clothes on him and I had to drive so that left Lauren to hold the scooper in place….this was it, this is when child protective services takes my kids. And then, he moved just right and he was free-it unhappened just as quickly as it happened. Today-funny. Then-not so much.
I’ve doubted my methods and effectiveness as a mother like most woman I know, like most parents I know. I did most of it on my own but I don’t think those insecurities would be any different if I hadn’t. These are humans and I’m the one trusted with making them contributing members of society. EEK! I’m not quite sure how it happened but they are both kick ass people. They have kept me grounded and given me a million reasons why life is worth every ounce of headache and heartache if it makes their world better. They leave me breathlessly happy and for as many mistakes as I made raising them I feel like they are better than I deserve some days.
I get this whole Mothers day thing now. It’s not about your kids recognizing you as a mother-it’s about taking a moment, dedicated to you, and appreciating how far you’ve all come together. It’s the threats of smacking rolled eyes back into their proper place, the excitement when the 40 in a row pogo stick record is broken. It’s ice cream before dinner when the walls of middle school are falling in on you and it’s kicking teenage boys out of your house because their feet smell like throw up. It’s realizing there is only enough cake for 5 people but there are 6 at the table so you proclaim you’ve never really liked cake anyway. It’s watching your heart walk around outside your body and it’s never having to feel alone because even though they are gone from home you won’t be done loving them in this life time…..