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©September 2003

Carol Jane Remsburg



Becoming A Mother








Thirteen years ago today, I was attempting my first foray into breastfeeding as my daughter had been born the night before.  I was 30 and had just given birth to my first and only child wondering what madness had possessed me to finally become a mother.  Everything had suddenly gone out of my control—that control has never again been regained. 


From arriving early, September 6th, when my due date was October 1st, to being breech and having an emergency delivery—well, the kid had drama going for her from the first.  Still, for arriving nearly a month early, she was very healthy—repeated Apgar scores of 9/9 as I hollered the questions about a baby I wasn't able to see yet from the delivery table.  Then I had my sister, who was with me in the delivery room (hubby was too squeamish and old-fashioned to witness a bloody but quick surgery)—sister, Bets laughed at me the entire time.  Talk about sibling anger.  She'd given birth 3 times to my 1 and she was laughing at me—not ONE of hers was by surgery.  I felt older than dirt and scared to death and not one clue about what was coming my way.  The only satisfaction I got later was that even AFTER her 3 births, being a step mom to another, and a daycare mother, Bets had never before or since encountered ANY kid like what I gave birth to. 


While this wasn't a "Rosemary's Baby" thing—the correlation between a kid and the devil isn't such a leap with mine.  Be sure to keep certain things in mind.


Kid was under stress = emergency birth.  Doctor's predict the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, it happens often enough.  Nope not this time, the kid had the umbilical cord in a death grip in her own little hands.  None of the docs had seen THAT little scenario before either and commented on it.  I do believe this was her decision to "let me out now before I have to crawl out and my legs ain't workin' so good yet"—plea.  Considering we'd lost our baby niece only about a month before, things had been stressful and "my Erin" wanted ZERO parts of stress but "OUT" would work.


Up until her birth, she'd been easy to carry and I felt great.  It was once she decided to take the reigns of her fate into her own hands that things got busy.  She's been fighting for control and domination ever since.  Let me tell you, she's ONE tough competitor too.


Once out, she decided she was tired and promptly slept for nearly two weeks.  Food wasn't interesting to her.  Breastfeeding was boring.  Chasing her busy little body to suckle on a breast was worrisome because I knew she wasn't eating.  Being born a month early at 5 lbs 12 oz wasn't bad, but she began losing weight because she kept falling asleep during feeding times.  I had shunned any pain meds simply because I was breast feeding.  We don't need to go there about pain after a major, invasive surgery—at 30, now do we?  Suffice it to say, I suffered and it hurt, but I'd do anything for her—not even Tylenol®. 


Finally after two weeks, I went to the bottle.  Rotten kid LIKED the bottle, seemed to stay awake longer and discovered what hungry meant.  She began to eat like a death camp survivor.  She was suddenly always hungry and then found her voice.  I've been hearing that voice on a constant basis ever since.  If it's not a cry or a squeal—it's that call we mothers pray to hear the first time 'round—"MOMMY!" 


That'll be my name for the rest of my life no matter what the variation—"Mom, Mommy, or even the calculated Moth-eer!"  I won't lie and tell you it's been all light and laughter and love.  There have been times I've hidden in the bathroom and locked the door.  There have been times when she's been sick that I've prayed to God any sacrifice to make her better.  There have also been times when I've watched her sleep and viewed her perfection in repose.  And then there have been those times when I've wanted to smack her so hard that she would stop talking and baiting me into a fight—and into the next week.


Being a mom is all those things, love, pride, hate, work, arguments, teaching, arguments, helping, healing, more arguments, and wondering if it will all work out in the end.  Oh, and MORE arguments, fights, and threats over just finishing homework or a bath or taking their SHOES upstairs.  Arrgh!!  Everything becomes a battle.


When I was pregnant, initially I prayed for a boy—our family hadn't had one of those since we came from three sisters and both of mine had only produced girls.  I just KNEW I'd be different.  I just didn't realize that my mother's curse would hang on long after she passed.  She simply made sure that NONE OF HER DAUGHTERS would have anything BUT girls.


Oh, and being the bad child and last child, I got the one who took the most maintenance and care—so like our OWN mother.  Having this kid was nearly like having a storefront worth of kids who were ALL having a bad day.  Nothing suited her, nothing was good enough, and even during a party she worried either something might go wrong OR she was planning the next event.  Butting heads and frustration became the norm. 


Erin began the terrible twos at 13 months.  Before that, I dubbed her colicky just because she was so terribly cranky.  Those terrible twos stretched from 13 months until she was nearly 5.  They have another name for that period of time from 5-7, I think they call it BRAT.  Works for me.


However that halcyon, idyllic time of motherhood between 8-10 never came to be.  It's that time just after babyhood and into big kid-dom but not teen-time.  It is that tiny window of light when your kid thinks you know everything and you can teach them things—like sewing and baking and cooking and laundry and even scrubbing toilets.  It's when they WANT to be with you and learn from you.


One question here . . . do you think that actually happened?


With my nieces and me, YES!  We spent years and years of whole weekends learning, sharing, playing, cleaning, coloring, baking, and cooking.  They loved me and would do anything with me—even if I was scrubbing out the toilets—even grown now they will come if I call—even with the toilets.  Now my child couldn't be bothered with such trivialities.  Even IF she would GLADLY do the same with my sister, her Aunt Betsy.  I could have gleefully choked her.  Pick either one—sister or child.


I work long hours and then spent homework time with her; feed her, bathe her, and tend her.  I play games with her and teach her.  I'm still left wanting in her eyes.  I'm just her mother after all.  Sometimes she loves me, sometimes she hates me, most often it's a battle of wills.  For I wish everything for her and give her all I can but kids don't recognize that working for what they want it key to finding their desires.  Somehow that lesson hasn't gotten through to her yet, but I'm still working on it.


Now it's thirteen years and one day later.  I'm STILL wondering over motherhood and my place there.  I'm STLL wondering if I can impart a good work ethic into my child and a sense of wonder about learning.  I'm STILL wondering if, after I tuck her into bed at night with a hug and a kiss if she'll really know how much she means to me—that she's my whole life and more.


Becoming a mother is more than becoming a teenager—which was the original title to this piece.  Whether you are 17 or 21 or 25 or 30 or beyond, becoming a mother isn't really just over giving birth.  It's about the sacrifices, the worries, the pain, the joy, viewing new wonders through their eyes, and watching them grow.  And trust me, it's a whole LOT about the worries.


Thirteen years ago today, one day after Erin's birth—I was terrified.  Guess what?  It's thirteen years later and I'm still terrified.  We don't just grow up on our own, we grow up with them, all over again.


To all the mothers out there—my hugs, my support, and the knowledge you are NOT in this alone.  Somehow we manage.


So take a moment or an hour for yourself and know you've done well.  We love, we teach, and can only hope they learn.  Motherhood sucks sometimes, othertimes it is the greatest gift ever bestowed.  Let us treat it with care and be proud—or we can hole up in the bathroom and cry alone.


I've got dibbs on the bathroom. You?



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