Acceptance

Sunday, May 12, 2013
The final step in the five stages of grief is Acceptance. I’ve already written about the previous stages: DenialAngerBargaining and Depression.

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Today is my first Mother’s Day. The idea of that is still very weird to me. I am someone’s mother. Those who know me well can attest to the surreal nature of that statement. But I think – after almost a year in this new role – I have finally come to accept this new reality.

I have a daughter (!!!) and I’m experiencing the world anew as she learns all about it. She makes me smile in her infinite curiosity about mundane things. For example, an empty bathtub is a wonderland of exploration: soap, a scrub puff, a shiny faucet, the holes in the drain. It’s all very exciting.

But motherhood is hard. And not in that cliché “it’s the hardest job in the world” way. I mean it challenges me in ways I hadn’t imagined. Yes, I love my baby but I don’t love some of the things that come with motherhood.


!!! REAL TALK ALERT !!! The following is very honest and may make some readers uncomfortable.

Parker will be 1 this week. She is gorgeous and intelligent. I’m proud of her, love spending time with her and could not imagine life without her.

Before the baby I felt very much in charge of my own life. I could come and go as I pleased, travel the world and work as much as I wanted. Parker arrived and overnight everything changed. Today, much of my life revolves around a person who can’t talk, walk or wipe her own ass. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing the night before, I always have to be “mommy” early in the morning. Every day, forever. That’s heavy, sometimes-unpleasant stuff.

Producing a child has not made me more “maternal,” completely engrossed in every developmental milestone. I don’t define myself as a mother first or someone who sacrifices her own pleasure and well-being for the sake of her child. I will always be Kelli, not just “Parker’s Mommy.” Motherhood has added a shiny new facet to my already sparkling identity, not replaced what was already there.

I work really hard to maintain the solid friendships I had from before the baby because I lost a lot of friends to parenthood (here’s an article I bookmarked years ago to remind me to keep at this). I make a point to not constantly gush about Parker or motherhood on social media because I HATE when profiles are all about the kids (hence, why this blog exists).

But that sentiment had me wondering: am I mother material? I began to confide in one or two good friends and take a deep breath before asking if they, too, found it all a bit . . . well, boring. At first their tired, sleepless eyes would widen in shock at my topic of conversation but then, usually after a couple of glasses of wine, they begin to nod, guilt streaking their faces.

“I sometimes find it so boring that I take mine to the library and we just wander for hours and hours and I count the minutes down,” one friend admitted. Another said: “I miss my old life. I have no interest in kids at all — except my own, of course, but even that bores me sometimes.” But then there were the other friends I pitched this idea to; the ones who look at me with utter contempt. Their lives seem to revolve around little Jacob’s swimming lessons or Harriett’s art classes.

It’s as if because these women had a baby, they had to erase their own past, their hopes, even their futures. They are mothers now, not people. I accept that am not one of them.

So today Andy’s got The Biscuit while I enjoy a Mother’s Day respite. I’ll relish every second of watching her play and learn, but I won’t feel guilty about taking the day off.

As I plan what is sure to be the best birthday party this kid will ever have, I step back to take in this new reality. In describing motherhood Shannon Nale Guyton, site director of The Bump said, “You’ll feel satisfied, important, needed, crazy, frustrated, impatient, and vulnerable — all in the same minute. Motherhood makes you feel as powerful as much as it makes you feel weak. Even when you think you can’t go on, you’ll keep running.”


Yup. And it’s all good.
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