And it comes easily to me.
And I won’t apologize for that.
Riley has a viral respiratory infection, and what that means is that we have a baby in the house who’s constantly coughing as if he’s been a chain-smoker for 40 years. He’s having trouble sleeping, eating, and finding the will to stand up. Once in a while, the coughing fits subside, he feels like his regular self, and he’s dancing/jumping/smiling/laughing. But those moments? They’re too few for my liking.
It’s been 4 1/2 days since Riley’s initial fever broke out, and I’ve been skipping out of school to love him up and make him feel better. Turns out, Riley’s a lot like me: once he’s sick, he whines his little head off until he either forgets to whine or has fallen asleep. And what do I do, being his mom and knowing that he probably inherited that trait from me? Well, I’ll tell you what I don’t do: I don’t eat or sleep or stop crying. I’m way too busy giving him all kinds of meds (something to stop his river of snot, something to stop his terrible cough, and something to settle his stomach because he’s been vomiting), playing with him to get his mind off the pain, giving him nebulizer treatments, and cuddling him. And the crying bit? That’s from the frustration of knowing there’s nothing else I can do to make him feel better.
I only showered once yesterday, and ate one meal, and slept a few hours after proving myself unable to carry Riley while blowing my nose, singing lullabies, screaming at the cat, and cooking dinner. Judging from the long line of snot that’s finding it’s way to my handkerchief and the soreness of my throat, I caught Riley’s infection, too. Typical overachiever me, always going above and beyond the call of duty.
Not sleeping? Not eating? Crying out of frustration? Well, I’m just as sick as my kid/patient! Ha! I win!
This isn’t unlike regular childcare. Only, typically, I don’t cry. Unless I’m having one of those sappy Hallmark card-type moments where Riley walks over to me then solemnly plants a kiss on my nose and all I see as he backs up are his perfect dimples and his tender smile. Those moments always squeeze tears out of my eyes. They remind me why I love motherhood. They remind me of how easy it’s been, and how lucky I am.
This is the part where I launch into a schpiel about motherhood and feminism and other stuff that requires you to raise your nose because the stink of my privileged ass just might make you faint.
I talk a lot on here about how easy it is to be a mom, and I don’t want you to misunderstand what I mean. I’ve had acquaintances say things like, “In that case, everyone can be a mom!” and I always squint as I try to figure out if they’re being sarcastic. Because yeah, everyone can be a mom. But not everyone should be a mom.
I have a certain idea of what a mom should be like, and I decided that I wouldn’t become a mom until I could personify that idea. I’m not saying that my idea of the ideal mom is perfect or that every mom should strive to meet my standards. I’m just saying that it’s something that I ascribe to, and that there’s nothing wrong with it. I have the right to be the best parent I can be, and the facts that I willfully choose to be that kind of woman and that I excel at being that kind of woman are not to be held against me. Dammit.
Motherhood is easy because it’s not about the day-to-day stuff that wears me down. It’s not about not having the time to do ___, or looking all kinds of disheveled or unfashionable or unkempt because I don’t have time or money to devote to myself. It’s not about putting dreams on hold or putting your kids up at the top of the pyramid.
Or actually, it is about all of those things, but only insofar as you want it to be about those things. First and foremost, motherhood is about choice. Not just the choice about when you’ll be a mom, or what circumstances eventually lead you to be (or not be) a mom, but the choice of what kind of mom you want to be. There are as many kinds of mom as there are walks of life, and personal preference is the only sure standard between them.
I’m not saying that it’s easy to devote your life to someone else. I’m not even saying that you should devote your life to someone else, child or otherwise. All I’m saying is that I made this decision, I own this decision, and I love this decision. It fulfills me. It improves me. It encourages me to believe. To have hope. And faith. And strength. And perseverance. And it’s because of all that it gives me that I find little miracles and particles of fun and magic in every tiny part of this endeavor. Because I believe motherhood is awesome, I find awesomeness in it that other women don’t seem to find.
And that’s cool.
We all see things differently. It’s what makes us beautiful. It’s what makes us unique. Just because some women have an easier time at motherhood, it doesn’t make them better moms or better women. And it also doesn’t give anyone the right to discredit the value of their experiences.
I’m having a hell of a time juggling a sick baby with the demands of work, school, partnering, and having my mom visit. It hasn’t just been difficult. It’s been extreme. Like, the most extreme you can think of, times ten. Think: bat bites; snake attacks; marathons of watching Blue’s Clues and listening to nursery rhyme DVDs; drunk relatives who smash your house into tiny pieces and ruin your kid’s first birthday party; and jet-setting, term projects, dancing on tables, re:-dick-you-lust,-Leigh drunk cousins vomiting all over celebrities, and studying nursing theory. That was last weekend.
Here’s to more of that kind of extreme living. It’s my idea of pure awesome, and quite frankly, it’s what I signed up for when I became a mom.