For this author, creative endeavors have been sorely tested by motherhood. But also transformed, and in ways she wouldn’t have imagined – couldn’t have, without her life “rewritten” as it has been, by her children. So linger here, to read all things weaverly, writerly and motherly.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for My Miracle Met My Limits


For the A-Z Challenge: I'm tired, so I'm cheating; this was featured on BlogHer.com as a contest entry. But I never actually got to post it on my blog, so here is an old but memorable M:))
I stared at my squawking six-week-old where I'd laid him on our bed. With his face wrinkled and red, even in his cute blue teddy bear onesie, he struck me as a flailing miniature monstrosity. My breathing was shallow with panic and anger; I'd changed his diaper. I'd rocked him. I'd nursed him. I'd followed up with a full bottle of formula, as my milk was meager, and even in that fact, I felt a failure.
"What? What is it you want?" I barked, unheard above his own screaming. It was the first time I would bark at my child, and certainly wouldn't be the last. But I felt a terrible shame in being so angry at my tiny miracle. 


His crying was relentless, his eyes clenched as tightly shut as his fists -- those fists I remember unfolding to marvel at the fine detail of his tiny fingers, cradling him after my C-section. I'd just nursed him, and he'd latched on perfectly! Back then, it was the symbiotic relationship of mother and child I had anticipated all ten months of my pregnancy, in all my shopping endeavors to find the safest crib and changing table; cutest crib sheets; blue and yellow valence curtains of stars set against a perfect sky. A blue rug decorated with green ecstatic frogs.
But even that first time holding and nursing my son, he'd screwed up his face and started to cry. The nurse could see I was growing distraught and had gently taken him from me, saying, "It's just his personality. Some just cry for no good reason." I had been offended that she should think she knew my child better than me! But staring down at my flailing child, puzzling him like some wild creature I was afraid to tangle with, I felt I didn't know him at all.
When my husband came home, I handed him the squawking bundle. I ran away. I escaped to Starbucks. I remember cradling a cup of cappuccino against my trembling lips, my eyes blurry with suppressed tears. I saw how I looked for the first time in six weeks, in sweat pants and a milk-stained T-shirt. I hadn't had time to file my nails. I found time only to take a shower. And the perfectly prepared nursery was in completely disarray, soiled onesies littering the frog rug.
Sitting there in Starbucks, I faced up to exactly how unprepared I was, as if I'd embarked on a trip without even remembering to pack a single bag, let alone a tooth brush. Truthfully, in all my preparations for motherhood, I'd never once considered that my limits could be so thoroughly tested.
It's only looking back now, eight years later, that I can recognize that Starbucks moment as a revelatory mommy one; I was acknowledging fully and for the first time, that becoming a mother is not about when you first set eyes on your little miracle. It is not even about first being able to own up to the cold fact that mothers do have their limits.
It was about the moment when I looked at my watch –Instinctively, I was able to rise up out of the comfy Starbucks chair, rise above my exhaustion and despair, and know that I had to leave. I might have been gone too long. He might be crying for a very good reason now. He might be hungry. He might be needing me.
There are still those times when I look to escape. But only briefly. That mothering instinct has only taken deeper root. In many ways, my son needs me more now than when he was small enough to cradle, even as he may pull away, embarrassed, when I kiss him goodbye at school. Because he still just might turn around to mutter, "I love you, Mom. I'll miss you all day long."
A breeze can blow his fine hair askew, and I can be as struck by him as when I first unfolded those tiny fists. He can still test my limits. But he remains no less miraculous.

13 comments:

Texas Playwright Chick said...

As the mother of a son (14 now), I can so appreciate this wonderful story & the miracle that are our children. Lovely.

Texas Playwright Chick

Amy Morgan said...

I remember my moment a little over 22 years now ... i'm glad you got to post this and share it with us for this challenge!

Medeia Sharif said...

What a beautiful post. It makes me appreciate what mothers go through. Children are miraculous.

Paula Martin said...

Wonderful story - I remember feeling just the same about 2am one morning when my baby daughter wouldn't stop crying. And Starbucks hadn't been invented then!

Jenn said...

This has to be my favorite post so far--just real and honest. We've all been there. as a Mom--feeling like we forgot all our bags, desperately in search of that parent manual someone conveniently forgot to write for us. My 5 children are ages 15 to 6---and as they get older--I reflect on some of those crazy moments and think--I still have a lot Momming left to do!!

Great post :) Jenn

November Rain - k~ said...

Sandra you captured that feeling of new motherhood so well in this post. From the raw frustration, to the soothing connection it was well written, and expressed in honest form. Some things we only begin to understand from looking back and reflecting on the moment once more, when the emotional elements are not so close to the surface. This was beautiful.

Kathy said...

Boy, this sure sounds familiar. My son had colic for the first 6 weeks of his life, and it didn't matter what I did he screamed his full head off. He still is my little miracle, even though he still can drive me insane. He is my little miracle and I love him completely.

Kathy
http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com/

Kittie Howard said...

Sandra, this is a gorgeous post. It should win an award.

Jo said...

My baby is now 41 years old and I still remember this exact feeling. The lost and desperate loneliness of motherhood. When my youngest drove me over the edge, and he did frequently, I would remember that his sister out grew that and surely he would also. Honestly, that helped very little.
Exhaustion has much to do with the end of the rope mommy moments. We all had them.
Beautifully crafted and lovingly told. ♥

Beverly Diehl said...

Sniffling with feeling and memory. We mothers can be so hard on ourselves, we want so desperately to be perfect. Yet despite all our "failings," our kids tend to come out pretty good after all.

Amy McMunn Schindler said...

Crying. This was so well written and real that I am crying from reading your words and remembering my own experience.

Lydia Kang said...

I think that instinct never goes away. In fact, I see it in myself towards other people and even other people's children. It's very strong.

Grammy said...

Oh, my goodness! My oldest daughter is almost 60, and I remember that feeling of desperation! I rocked and walked with and cried, shouted and all those things when she was a tiny (well not too awfully tiny - 8 lbs 3 oz when born) baby. She had the colic as well. You brought tears to my eyes with your story. Now she has four married children, two of whom have children of their own. Thank you for such an honest story. Best regards to you.
Ruby aka Grammy

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