There are two events in my past that permanently changed who I turned out to be today. The first occurred on November 3rd, 2001 at 10:13 a.m. That was the day my daughter was born. Without much ado the doctor handed a squalling, pink ball of human to me, a seventeen year old senior in high school without a clue. I looked down at her with amazement and fear, wondering where to go from there. We went home three days later and thus began my transformation into the person we call mother.
I didn’t know much about babies except how they were made (a little too late for that one) and that they made a lot of noise and stink. The first two weeks were filled with round-the-clock feedings dispensed with tiny three ounce bottles, unexpected projectile vomiting, a million foul diaper changes and little sleep. What sleep we did get was often interrupted when the baby swing needed to be cranked up again, which she delightfully announced with shrill cries. I soon learned that I could rock the swing with my foot while asleep. I also learned to recognize the small noises indicating an impending eruption and that a diaper bag must be taken everywhere, every time. I developed the keen ability to use the bathroom one handed and bathing her without half drowning the poor child. People underestimate the value of a spouse. As I didn’t have one I was doing it all alone, what we call being a single mother.
I went back to school three weeks after she was born. I was now a single student mother, riding the bus with my infant daughter and doing homework while burping her. Science is a lot more fun that way, if you ask me. Not long after, I was instructed by my father to get a job. I was now a working, single, student mother. When I started working as a cashier at the local grocery store I had to hire a babysitter, making me a poor, single, working student mother. When she was seven months old I graduated high school and moved out of my father’s house. I became, you guessed it, a poor, single, working, paying-the-bills mother. But I loved it.
My daughter and I were a team. She would giggle and brighten my day, and I would provide her basic needs. She accompanied me to pick up my paycheck every Tuesday and delighted in riding the conveyor belt. She rarely got sick, ate anything I offered her, and made everyone around her smile. I loved being a mother.
The second event occurred on June 12, 2004 at 3:17 p.m. That was the day my son was born. By then I was a happily married, not working, twenty year old mother. Of two! Again without much ado the doctor handed me a squirming, angry ball of human. But this time I was more prepared for the demands of an infant… or so I thought.
Whereas my daughter ate anything given to her, my son refused every formula and nipple. Changing my daughter was uneventful, but changing my son was a duck-and-switch challenge. Sleeping through the night came relatively easy for my daughter. My son screamed for six months of nights. My daughter delighted in every new person she met; my son only liked three people and loudly proclaimed his dissent among others. What was going on? Why was this so difficult? Did I do something wrong?
Then one day as I was changing his outfit my son giggled. I laughed, he giggled. We carried on. From then on out I accepted his differences with composure and learned to enjoy them. Sure he had to have that pacifier all day, but he looked so cute when he spit it out to concentrate on something that tickled his fancy. Of course he didn’t like most food, but watching him stuff his mouth with something he did like was amusing. I found myself enjoying duo-motherhood.
I chose these events because my world revolves around my children, day in and day out. I would feel lost and incomplete without them. They make me the neurotic, frazzled, muddled mess that I am, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They make me…me.