Today Baby Ava is 6 months old. One half of a whole year. It seems so big until I think about my age which, when calculated, is about 61 half years old. Hmmm, she doesn’t seem so big anymore… and I feel old. Anyway, I digress. Upon the anniversary of Ava’s 6 months of life, I’ve taken a moment to reflect and have realized that it’s been only recently that I’ve come to the realization that… holy smokes, I’m a mother.
One might think this thought should have occurred to me sooner. Perhaps somewhere along line during the nine months the little darling was incubating in me. But no, unfortunately it took seven of the nine months for me to come to grips with the fact that, yes, I really was pregnant and yes, I really was going to have a baby. There was no turning back. Once I got a handle on that situation, I spent the next 1.5 months really enjoying the experience of being pregnant. You know, little things, like getting to move to the front of the bathroom line because really, who is going to make a pregnant lady wait at the end?… or talking Jeff into getting me a Hot-n-Spicy chicken sandwich from McDonalds any time I wanted one… or rivaling in the fact that my hair was twice as thick as normal. You know, little things like that. But then the “home stretch” hit and I spent the last two weeks of my pregnancy trying to evict the little stinker. I used every trick in the book… walking, foot massage, eating lots of grape fruit, walking, walking, walking… I won’t list them all, but I tried every single old wives tale there is (except castor oil… just couldn’t bring myself to drink castor oil…) By the end I felt more like a landlord trying to remove a stubborn tenant than a glowing mother anxiously awaiting her baby’s arrival. No, pregnancy didn’t bring about a realization of Motherhood for me.
Perhaps, then, I should have felt something of a tingly motherly feeling after giving birth. After all, Ava did arrive on Mothers Day and only mothers can experience birthing a child. Upon reflection, however, I didn’t feel tingly motherly after giving birth… I felt amazement and was pretty much in awe.. of myself! Self centered perhaps, but yes, it’s true. I felt like I had just conquered the world, like I was the most awesomest, amazing, incredible person on the planet. I, woman, had brought forth another human. The minute the doctor holds up the baby that has just emerged from you, the only thought in your head is “how in the world did that just happen???” I mean, come on, the baby’s head alone is 13″ around. It just doesn’t seem physically possible. Yet I achieved this wonder. And I spent the next two weeks feeling fairly impressed with myself. No, no feelings of motherhood there.
The actual moment of realization happened a few weeks ago as I was feeding Ava. She has mastered the art of eating from a spoon and I am terribly proud of her and heap tons of praise on her and tell her how brilliant she is… all for figuring out how to open and swallow. We had just finished up one such mealtime session, Ava having successfully finished her entire bowl full of exciting and extremely bland rice cereal. I get up, wet a wash cloth and proceed to wipe down her hands and face while telling her all about the importance of keeping our hands and face clean. And at that moment it hits me… Holy Smokes, I’m a mother. Only mothers lecture small children about the importance of a clean face and hands. Only mothers revel in the little puckered up face that has just been sufficently restored to it’s proper state of cleanliness. I’m a mother. It was a bit of a monumental moment.
Just a couple days ago I was changing Ava’s diaper, another task that doesn’t usually bring about tingly motherly feelings. However, in the middle of the process she reaches up and gently lays her chubby little hand on my arm. And she keeps it there; she doesn’t try to grab me or play with me, she just lays her hand on my arm, like she’s claiming me as her own. She has the sweetest smile on her face and her eyes hold a look of pure love and trust. And my heart melts. And that sealed the deal. It’s official, I’m a mother.