Monday, December 15, 2008

Thoughts on motherhood redux

First some birthday photos of Small Fry: This was the "official" party, all the little boys from his preschool played games and jumped on a big bouncy castle at the Y.
Playing with the bubble machine

Happy Birthday boy

Blowing out candles

The bouncy castle!

Playing the parachute game (this was ingenious, who knew 3 year olds could have this much fun with a sheet)

Doing the limbo! This was so funny to watch, i wish we had video of it.

And finally, as we prepare for our big day on Thursday and in what is possibly my last post of 2008, these are the thoughts that I've had stored up:

"This is the easy part."

These words were uttered to me by my sister in law as she quickly pulled my 2 year old twin niece and nephew back from hanging on the edge of my brand new pack-n-play. I stared down anxiously at my 2 week old son inside and thought, "how in the world can THIS be the easy part?"

Experienced mothers the world over are now throwing their heads back in laughter. Because, of course, my sister in law was right: a 2 week old is candy compared to a 2 year old - and from what I hear a 16 year old is no walk in the park.

This Thursday we start the journey over as we will welcome our brand new baby girl. So after 3 years do I feel like I can handle the "easy part" again? Mostly, though to be honest I don't remember a lot of Small Fry's first year. One of the little weirdnesses of motherhood I've discovered is that you really don't clearly remember back more than maybe 8 months. Small Fry just turned 3 and for me to remember what he was doing at Christmas last year, when he had just turned 2, is a stretch. Its like he's always been just about this age. I do remember feeling, when he was a baby, that I wanted to slow time down, that every day he changed just a bit but enough for me to realize that certain little stages had just gone forever. It was bittersweet, I loved seeing the new little boy he was becoming but sad that toothless baby was gone, and then the happy crawler was gone, and then the cautious walker gave way to the confident climber. I have to be honest and say that since he has become the full on walking and backtalking toddler I am somewhat less enamored of this stage. But while his childish demands can be trying i'm fully aware that some day - not too far away - he won't want mommy to be with him all the time, he won't want me to get away from the computer and play blocks and read book after book. I should enjoy it now, instead of feeling how I usually do: like heaving a gigantic frustrated sigh and trying to marshal my thoughts into how i'm going to keep him occupied and how i'm going to meet my deadlines, and cook dinner, and clean house, and pay bills, and.. and... and..... The other night, after i'd been reading in bed a while, Small fry woke up crying. Jim Dear was out so I hefted my enormous belly out of bed and went to see what was the matter. It was a nightmare of some kind. Small Fry was already almost back to sleep but I pulled him up in my arms anyway. As he lay on my shoulder, breathing small boy snores, I tried to memorize exactly how he felt in my arms, exactly how his fresh bathed hair smelled and exactly how his sturdy little spine felt pressing through his fabric of his pajamas. Then I put him back in bed.

I used to think that as an artist, all of my paintings and drawings were like my babies because I had spent time and energy creating them and I couldn't bear to see them mistreated, or watch as an art director splashed type across my carefully laid out compositions. I love being an artist and it gives me great fulfillment as a woman to be able to do what I love. But now as a mother I don't feel as much that each image is my baby. For one thing, I see the art creation process as more similar to pregnancy instead of motherhood. In pregnancy, there is definitly creating going on, but it's all a one way street: if I do just right this painting will come out healthy and normal. But it won't surprise me with silly sounds and made up words. It won't make me laugh as it tells me to go FASTER MOMMY FASTER as we race the Kroger shopping cart down the frozen aisle, or make me smile as it treats its stuffed animals with unexpected grown-up tenderness.

And that - in the midst of living through the easy parts and the hard parts - is definitely the fun part.

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