09 May 2011

On Motherhood

Happy Mother's Day, my friends. I hope yours was some kind of wonderful. Mine was our signature blend of sweet chaos. We went to church, grabbed breakfast from my fave little dive one town over {hot raspberry-chocolate chip pancakes}, played tennis, strolled through the woods, dined alfresco.

Tonight I found this old shot of me in early labor with Buby. Tom took it about one week before
my due date. It was a HOT Indian summer five years ago. I think there is such beauty in the expectant body, whatever size or shape. I gained 40 lbs during each of my pregnancies, but I was the roundest with Buby. I loved it. Minus the back pain.

My Sweets managed to take the rest of the photos with trembling hands immediately after our children were born. The trusty point-and-shoot was no match for the raw emotion of what had just gone down. They are not flattering shots by any stretch, but they are real glimpses into those first moments with our babies outside of the womb.

September 2005

Right no
w I am so grateful for the love and the life I have every day with these little ones in tow. It is a gift. There is no way I could sum up all of my thoughts on motherhood. Could anyone? It's too much.

But I can tell a little more of my story. I never really thought about motherhood until I was about to enter it. Even as a little girl I don't recall dreaming of weddings and babies. I dreamt of Paris and Madrid, of Jane Goodall and her chimps, of studying law, of crazy love, of poetry in java houses, of meeting talented artists and designers, of living abroad for a year, of becoming a magazine editor, of learning a city inside and out, of eating ridiculously yummy foods at all hours of the night. Those were my little-girl dreams.

Of course when My Sweets and I got hitched we knew there would probably be a house. Somewhere... someday. And in that house we would want to hear the pitter patter of little feet running down the hall. We were in no rush though, and honestly I wasn't one of those women who couldn't resist holding other people's babes. Newborns were fragile in my mind. A decade ago I was happy to ooh and ahh from a safe distance.

April 2008

In the summer of 2004 I started noticing babies. Babies left and right. Babies in restaurants and babies on sub
ways. Babies with moms and babies with dads. Pregnant women in NYC seemed to be stalking me. At the tail end of my 20s babies were looking kind of... irresistible. Luckily My Sweets and I were both feeling it at the same time, and the rest is history. We bought our first house and birthed our first baby the following year.

The transition from couple to family was pretty seamless. It would have been awesome to have Tom work closer to home or have family local {they are all five hours away}, but I found such good fortune as a new mom. Mothering felt natural. Nursing felt natural. Playing and teaching and protecting all felt natural. Who knew! Every single day with my babe was an adventure. It helped that he was an easy baby with a good temperament. Life was beautiful.

Six weeks after Buby arrived I had to decide if I'd go back to work
in the city. One thing nobody told me before having children was that I would be afraid to leave them in the care of strangers, even perfectly qualified highly recommended strangers. I strung my editor along until the very last minute to give myself options. I asked around, researched daycare and interviewed several nannies, but none of it felt right in my gut.

With family and friends long distance and both our jobs requiring us to be gone for 12-16 hours each day, I resigned from my post. It seemed the obvious choice, but the decision to take myself out of the game was still heart wrenching. I loved my career.
Over the next two years I freelanced magazine articles, wrote a book for someone and worked full-time from my home office as Managing Editor at an international design magazine. I had a babysitter friend with a daughter Buby's age and a mother's helper and a house cleaner. All was well, except I was not sleeping... EVER. I was saying "yes" to everything.

When I was with Buby I felt guilty for not working. When I was working I felt guilty for not being with Buby. When I was doing both well I felt like a superhero on less than two hours of sleep. I was squeezing in baby classes and play dates while fielding urgent calls from designers/writers/chefs/artists in New York, Chicago and around the world. I didn't know how to turn down the work I'd worked so hard to get or to give any less in my day. I was good at my job, but I was no way willing to miss out on any bit of Buby's childhood either. AND, GULP, I WANTED TO START TRYING FOR BABY #2. Something had to give.

Right around the same time my babysitter friend was taking huge chunks of summer vacation {leaving me for weeks to conference call with a baby on my hip and edit features after midnight}. My mother's helper was about to return to school. I took Buby for a meet and greet with an in-home sitter who came highly recommended. She was a friend of a friend who we had known in a different capacity for several years. I thought she might be the perfect fill-in a few afternoons a week. We spent two hours at her house listening and watching. I could write a whole post on all the ways she was not right for our family, on top of the fact that she had the children nap in her bed and insisted she drive them anywhere she wanted to go, on errands, etc. Nobody gallivanted around town with Buby but Tom and I. It was not happening.

This lady was our last and best option in my mind. I walked out, buckled my little dude into his seat and wept in the driveway for a moment. The rest of the afternoon I ignored the office phone and played dinosaurs with my almost two year old. After he was sound asleep that night I called My Sweets at work and broke down in tears. {FYI: I'm not usually a crier.} I knew I just needed to be Mommy for a little while. I wanted to give that to Buby. My Sweets was uber supportive, as always. After 8 months at the magazine I resigned with plenty of notice. That was my most recent staff position and shortest stint anywhere. I tell this story because I want to remember it. It's how the journey started for me. The very next month we got pregnant with Bleu, as we'd hoped. And so the games begun...

October 2010

Fast forward three babies in five years. I would not trade being a full-time mom for anything. I say "full-time" because there is nothing "stay-at-home" about my life. It's the most blissful/heart wrenching/hilarious/tiring/inspiring job in the world ~ raising children ~ and I thank God every day for the opportunity for one more day to do it. These days I choose to be less S-U-P-E-R anything and more in the moment. Our children deserve it, and financially we can afford it. And in the midst of raising babies I have realized that they are raising me, too. I don't always know what I'm doing. I've never done this before. Every child is different. Etc. Etc. But however hairy it can get these years are magic, and I am convinced our children are the purest examples of love we'll ever know.

I look at My Sweets in bed next to me, his skin glowing in the night light he wishes wasn't on, and my heart aches with love. I feel we were meant to be on this ride together, and I cannot imagine a wiser, more patient or supportive partner. I don't know what motherhood would look like without him to share in the experience, even if it is via texts between Bleu's meltdowns and late-night whispers about who pretend-married who in Buby's kindergarten class today. One way or another, I share it all with him.

Happy mom's day to those nearest and dearest to my heart, and to those who embrace motherhood in all of its forms. I know it's a Hallmark holiday, but it's a lovely reminder.


IRV said...

Hi Jenny - What a beautiful post...I'm still following you after we exchanged some emails a few years ago. I hold you responsible for getting me hooked on blogs :) Congratulations on your third, he's a cutie!

Jenny said...

Thank you, Irv. I hope you're doing well. Would love to chat again.