9.07.2008

Yep, I'm a mom. Funny that.

I've really tried to look at the past week home alone as a rare opportunity to remember who I am.

In other words, to reconcile who I sometimes think I am (a pinot-swilling, bar-hopping, sparkly eyeshadow-wearing social butterfly) with who I really am (pathetic semi-recluse with far too much reality TV on the DVR).

I was sure that with ten days to myself, I would catch the last summer sunshine in Central Park, take in every art house film within subway's distance, and do girls-night-out tequila shots in some East Village dive until 3AM. Instead, indulgences have so far been limited to chewing with my mouth open and reading blogs until midnight.

It's all sort of reminded me of the kids that head off to college under the guise of a fresh start. "I can be anyone I want!" they proclaim, only to realize, one day with their feet up on the table at the student union, that you may be surrounded by new friends but inside not much has changed. Maybe you no longer have to avoid the mean girl who throws food at you every time you pass her and no one remembers the time your sneaker fell off in second grade gym class and everyone called you Cinderella for five years (sorry Tom J) but you're essentially still you.

As parents we sometimes write about our longing for love letters and booty calls and how we wish we still had money left at the end of the month for uncomfortable shoes but desiring something isn't the same as the desire to pursue it.

In the end, it would seem, I'm now a mom. Maybe even a mom first. And that momness stays with me even when my children do not.

Yesterday I learned that a beautiful little girl who lived around the corner from us was in a terrible, tragic accident earlier in the week.

She died. She was Thalia's age.

The news struck me profoundly and painfully. I spent the better part of the day inconsolable. I didn't have my children here to hug tightly or Nate to help me absorb the shock.

I took myself to a movie, dazed, swollen-eyed. (Two hours of Robert Downey Jr in an afro is an outstanding distraction by the way, if anyone is looking for one.) I returned home sort of at a loss, not quite sure what to do myself. Writing was futile, and TV wasn't nearly keeping my attention. I started to clean the kitchen counter but that lost its appeal quickly.

So I did something I never would have thought a week ago that I'd do given ten days without children: I babysat.

Tony and Oodgie
got a much needed night at the movies and Cheeky got a few hours handing me my ass at Candyland and showing me her big girl underwear. The wine and the adult conversation when my fellow grown-ups returned home was healing, but I think being around a vibrant, happy, energetic three year-old was more healing. Faced with death I needed to see life. Faced with tragedy I needed to read Valentine's Day with Dora three times in a row. I wouldn't have expected it. But I'm a mom now.

One more thing I learned about myself this week: I need to get in better shape. Duck Duck Goose can be a bitch on your knees.


45 Comments:

Anonymous Rita Arens said...

I AM sitting in the Atlanta airport practically in withdrawal for my daughter after so much time with Quinlan, who reminds me so much of her. Here's hoping you get your hugs soon!

9/7/08, 1:19 PM  
Blogger Issas Crazy World said...

I had kids young and a lot of people who had kids at the ages I did, say they regret it in some ways. Missed chances to do whatever (traveling, bar hopping, becoming a brain surgeon), but I've never felt that way. I enjoy my nights out, I do. But being a family, so much cooler. My kids are amazing people, much more interesting that the people I'd be meeting at bars.

I hope you enjoyed your sleeping in a bit and without elbows in your back, but I'm glad they come home soon. It made me sad to read that you were sad.

9/7/08, 1:22 PM  
Blogger Random Chick said...

Girl, you're gonna need to get in shape because Hopscotch is a bitch on your whole body! LOL!

9/7/08, 1:52 PM  
Blogger ms-teacher said...

Stumbled upon your blog through your excellent post at Momocrats. I have added you to my blogroll.

Look forward to reading more!

9/7/08, 2:15 PM  
Anonymous Motherhood Uncensored said...

Yep. Last week I went out to lunch with a reader and her two precious kids (4 and 1.5 like mine). They were exceptional, but still kids just the same.

And I loved it.

That or like you, babysitting someone else's kids?

Totally a makes you a mom.

And I love you for it.

9/7/08, 2:23 PM  
Blogger J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Good thinking, taking on a toddler. Just exactly what the doctor ordered. Being a mom myself, when my mom died in June, one thing that made me honestly smile instead of just that polite, "I'm ok" smile, was the babies that came to my mom's service. My cousin has a new one, and my sister has an almost 1-year old, and spending time with them pressed close to my heart, smelling their hair...it was balm indeed for what hurt.

Once maybe 10 years ago, when Maya was 2, a 2 year old here fell off the Golden Gate Bridge and died in a freak accident (there's a gap at the bottom of the railing in some spots, that has only been a problem just that once), and it hit me hard, mainly because of the randomness, and because she was just the same age as my daughter. I talked to my mom about it, and she said you never get over that. That when a 32 year old died, she thought of me, and was more affected than usual. I guess that's part of being a mom.

9/7/08, 3:48 PM  
Blogger Gray Matter said...

Man did you capture "momness" perfectly. You think if you search for your "real self" you'll come up with a different answer, but in the end once you're a mom that's as real as it gets. So sad to hear that story about the little girl. I just wrote about the NYT article about how empathetic we in the mommy-blogosphere are. You know the really scary thing. You'll miss them so deeply until they're home and find yourself gritting your teeth and yelling far faster than you had imagined. Or maybe that's just me.

9/7/08, 4:37 PM  
Blogger Tracey said...

Tragedies really make you reevaluate, don't they. I'm so sorry for your neighbor's loss...

9/7/08, 4:44 PM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...

You make better "going to the movies alone" choices than I do.

9/7/08, 4:47 PM  
Blogger mothergoosemouse said...

Babysitting someone else's kids, and liking it? Sure sign of momness.

(We saw Tropic Thunder last weekend. Still giggling.)

9/7/08, 4:52 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

You are totally a mom, and that's really cool.

9/7/08, 5:01 PM  
Blogger Nic said...

I read about you in Parents Magazine and found your blog. Love it!

This blog hits home and is SO true. I am a new mom of a 5 month old. I didn't know how much he would turn my world upside down and change it forever, but he has.

Reading your blogs and other moms' blogs gives me inspiration and the energy to keep going when I am so exhausted I put the salt and pepper shakers in the fridge and the milk in the cabinet.

Thanks! :) And I do hope you get your hugs soon!

9/7/08, 5:25 PM  
Blogger CroutonBoy said...

For the record, Mom-101 is very affordable, costing us only a bottle of wine and a block of saga blue cheese. And anyone who can play "duck duck goose" with my toddler and her stuffed penguin is welcome back anytime.

9/7/08, 7:50 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

When I didn't have my kids for a couple of days I came to the same conclusion. The bar scene is overrated and hangovers aren't worth it.

9/7/08, 8:31 PM  
Blogger Misguided Mama said...

Hi there! Love, LOVE your blog. I read it everyday now. Now, to my comment. Before I had children, tragic news of someone's son or daughter dying was awful to hear, and I'd usually repsond with , "Wow, that's terrible," and then go meet friends for lunch (because I was able to eat. Now that I HAVE children, it keeps me up at night and scares me to the point of wondering if I should even chance the drive to the grocery store down the block, fearful for my own family's safety. Thank you for expressing how being a mom increases your love for every child!

9/7/08, 9:42 PM  
Blogger caramama said...

I support you in your momness 100%! I think it's the largetst paradigm shift a person can make, and once you make it, there is no going back.

I read about the tragedy as well, and it just hits so hard once you have a child of your own. I don't even want to imagine how awful it must be.

9/7/08, 9:55 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

Amen. We often long for breaks from our kids, but when we get them... I've written about this from the single-mom perpsective.

http://coldcerealchronicles.blogspot.com/2008/05/be-careful-what-you-wish-for.html

Love your blog. Thank you for what you do.

9/8/08, 6:05 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Tragic about your neighbour's child. As a mom of 2 I just could not imagine that kind of pain.

Love your blog, by the way. I will be following it.

9/8/08, 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about your neighbors' loss. What a tragedy.

That's all I can think about now. I mean, I know you wrote about the mom-ness and the duck-duck-goose, but all I can think about is that family. A man I know recently lost his daughter. She was older, she was 17, but it was devastating. The hardest thing I have ever done is watch him lay her to rest, knowing, always knowing, that his life would only be a fraction of what it had been before.

I hope that your neighbors and your friends can find some solace in their memories and their son.

9/8/08, 11:26 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Thank you so much Anon. It's all I could think about too. Which is in part why I think I had to write about Duck Duck Goose.

9/8/08, 11:27 AM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

Ugh. I'm so sorry to hear of such tragedy. Kisses on your cheeks, mama.

9/8/08, 12:17 PM  
Blogger JennaVB said...

Went from nodding in commiseration about momness to crying about the tragedy, back to nodding about the sometimes simple, silly, often repetitive, but soul-fulfilling feeling that only being with children can bring.

9/8/08, 2:10 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

i have such a hard time hearing about tragedies involving children. i lose a little faith in the universe every time i hear about one. i'm sooo sorry to hear this. babysitting seems to be the perfect thing to do.

9/8/08, 2:52 PM  
Blogger Russ, Anna and Pepper said...

I'm a mom too, I feel ya! But I do remember those days of tequila shots in a dive with my girlfriends. Again, thanks for the "right on" laughs of reality.

9/8/08, 3:25 PM  
Blogger Petunia Face said...

I feel ya'--sometimes when I'm with my 2 year old I am dying to get away, for some alone time. Then I get it and I find myself in a Starbucks practically devouring strange children, staring at them and thinking of my own sweet girl.

Hugs to you and your neighbor's family. I cannot even listen to tragic stories about children anymore.

9/8/08, 3:53 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Mogul said...

Wow sad about that little girl. Life is so short. It was when my little one was in the hospital in June when I realized nothing else mattered.

9/8/08, 3:55 PM  
Blogger the mama bird diaries said...

This is a beautiful line that I totally get...
"And that momness stays with me even when my children do not."

My heart is with that family. What horrible pain.

9/8/08, 10:13 PM  
Blogger Cynthia Samuels said...

Oh Liz! A mom now and forever. What could be better? At this end of the child-rearing journey I can tell you that my mom-ness has informed everything in my life - all positively. In addition to the remarkable privilege of being a parent to my spectacular sons,who have brought joy and laughter and love to every day of my life, without mom-ness I would never have thought of some of my best stories, never written my book, never become an "early adopter" never - never...
It's a wonderful thing - the land of mom. And you've been a spectacular citizen for a long time; we knew it before you did!

9/8/08, 11:48 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Kneepads, my friend. I spent the morning chasing my three-year-old through tunnels and climbing rope ladders at the indoor playgym, and kneepads were the only thing that saved me.

I always think I'm going to "recapture the real me" when I have a free evening, but I think I've become a real mom instead.

9/9/08, 12:41 AM  
Blogger Anissa Mayhew said...

You are so right on this one. It's something that I never thought I wanted, but once motherhood was mine, I'm not sure how I ever wanted anything else. I may still whine about my kids driving me mad, but REALLY? They wrap me in love and I yearn to be a better person for them. It wasn't until I was in true danger of losing one of mine that my perspective of what they took out of me changed 100%. What they give me is so much more.

9/9/08, 1:09 AM  
Blogger liz said...

i've felt exactly this way while on extended business trips. as always, i love your posts. thank you for making moms like me feel like there are other moms like me out there too :)

9/9/08, 10:46 AM  
Blogger Tracee said...

I want to invite you and your readers, personally, to send photos of your empowered daughters (nieces, grandchildren, whatever) to be Poster Girls on the Empowering Girls site.

We'll use them in the header and as cover art. We're fighting negative media with positive media.

The details here: http://traceesioux.blogspot.com/2008/09/poster-girl-send-photos-of-your-girls.html

9/9/08, 3:35 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

Oh, I hear you. My 9-year old spent 3 weeks in Italy with my parents this summer. I kept moving everything to those 3 weeks, thinking I would have been much more relaxed, had more time, been less ties to snacks, "mommy I'm tired of walking" and so on. What did I do? Went to the dentist. Had ONE playdate. In 3 weeks. Pathetic. Turns out, the routine is ingrained in me much more than in my daughters and i don't know what to do with myself otherwise. I mean, I do, but it takes me a while.

How heartbreaking for Alex's parents! That's just horrible :-(

9/9/08, 5:07 PM  
Blogger GHD said...

Wow! this is a perfect post.

My younger (cooler) sister is always going on about "never wanting kids". She adores my son, but I know that on some level she doesn't get why I gave up "my life" for "mommyhood". Sometimes I do either... that is until I look on the face of my beautiful son that I realize why.

This is a beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you for writing it.

9/9/08, 5:51 PM  
Blogger GHD said...

er... I meant to say, "I don't either..." (sorry)

9/9/08, 5:52 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Oh my gosh. I didn't want to click the link, but I did and I am crying and I realize that time moves too quickly. I wish I had a rewind button.

Sending hugs from afar. :)

9/9/08, 8:02 PM  
Anonymous raisingboys said...

I miss my kids when I'm away from them for more than a few hours. The house is way too quiet, and I miss the chaos they bring to my day. That's something I never thought would happen!

9/9/08, 8:13 PM  
Blogger MindfulMama said...

I find that smoking a cigarette crouched behind the bushed inthe garden after bedtime, while drinking copious amounts of a fine wine, does wonders to scratch the itch of who you used to be when it nags atcha. Maybe it's just me :-)

9/10/08, 7:30 AM  
Anonymous Sam said...

That's all I can think about now, too, is that family that lost their child. About a month and a half ago there was a little girl that drowned near my sil's cottage. It was one of those things that the mom thought the dad was watching her, and vice versa. I still think about that family every day, and my prayers are with them. I'll pray for neighbors, too.

9/10/08, 11:39 AM  
Blogger Kristen Andrews said...

that is a horrible tradegy, before I was a mom I would hear news like that and think oh how terrible and now that I am a Mom and hear that news I think, oh my gosh that is someones child. You speak from the heart!

9/10/08, 4:54 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Oh, that is terrible news.

And yes, it's so true that they are the healingest balm, even while they can make you cry about it all over. I've had times when I've been sad about something, and hugging Pumpkinpie, knowing that some day she will be that sad, that there are things that happen in the world, makes me bawl all the harder, yet at the same time, having her in my arms is like a blankie, only so much better.

They'll be home soon, Liz.

9/10/08, 6:07 PM  
Blogger April said...

I absolutely get lost in your writing. Kudos. And I agree, there's not much *if anything* more healing than love and hugs from a small child.

9/10/08, 9:53 PM  
Blogger Judy Haley (coffeejitters) said...

Gosh, I don't have any kids yet (one on the way), but I can't imagine anything worse happening to any human walking the earth than to lose a child. My heart goes out.

9/11/08, 12:29 AM  
Blogger - C - said...

The Dora Valentine book ... is it the one where Dora and Boots go to Abula's house? We read that all the time!

9/18/08, 2:15 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I loved the line "And that momness stays with me even when my children do not." That is SOOOO very true. I didn't realize how quickly (yet how slowly) that became true for me!

9/27/08, 11:59 PM  

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