Even though I’m 34 and have been a mother for almost five years, there are times I still feel like I’m playing house. Times I just don’t think I’m doing a very good job at this parenting thing (like this morning when I sent Alex to school for egg decorating day with two brown eggs—d'oh!) or that I’m not necessarily cut out for certain aspects of it (like getting Nora to brush her teeth every night). Sometimes I feel like I'm just going through the mom motions. But every once in a while, I’m forced to flex my mom muscles and I think, Oh, yeah, I am a capital M mom.
I’m sure for some of you these moments are hallmarky and involve cupcake making and frolocking on the beach. I have some of those too. But most of the nitty-gritty I’m-a-mom-moments I’ve had are just that: nitty-gritty. Ugly stuff you wouldn’t put in the baby book or in a facebook status, times when that maternal instinct just kicks in and you do the thing you're supposed to do without even thinking about it. My recent revelation certainly isn't pretty so be warned....
Nora’s been sick with an ear infection, wicked cough and high fevers. On Thursday night she woke up coughing really hard. She was calling for me so I went in her room (Nick and I had been taking turns comforting her for about three nights at this point), but before I could pick her up, she puked all over her crib. It was the first time she’d ever really thrown up and she was so upset. We hurried to the bathroom and en route, she puked on my shirt and then I got her in front of the toilet and held her hair back and rubbed her back while she did her thing. In between she was whimpering, “I frew up mommy.” It was so sad. I held her close for a while then cleaned her up and put her in bed with Nick. Then I changed myself*, changed her sheets*, and wiped up the path of puke. And here’s the weird part: I really didn’t mind. I wasn’t complaining or whining. I wasn’t thinking about how I’d turn it into some woe-is-me anecdote the next day. It was like I'd left my body and was looking down on myself doing this very grown-up, mom-like thing--it felt I was doing what I should be doing. And I think I needed that.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been working so much lately or because I've come to rely a lot on Nick for any parenting that happens in the middle of the night. Maybe it’s because my kids never puke and are rarely up at night so it was a novelty. Maybe it’s because my mom, who was and still is a fantastic mother, was always off-the-charts good at taking care of us when we were sick. Whatever the reason, I didn’t mind taking care of my girl. I liked that I was the one holding her hair back and cleaning up the mess. Because when you're sick, all you really want is your mommy, right?
Am I crazy? Do you ever have these moments when you feel really mom-like—and like it? Are your moments as icky as mine?
*I threw out her sheet and I threw out my shirt. Both were old, but don’t tell my mom, she wouldn't approve.