This is what I read on a bumper sticker a little while ago. At first I only shook my head about it, but then it got me thinking, just the way the most random things make me think sometimes. A list started forming in my head, how being a mom has changed me, and helped me acquire abilities I didn't think I would ever have. Here are a few points on my list:
1. Sleep: I was always a person with an above-average need for sleep. Without my 8-9 hours a night I was a zombie; I remember one instance when I didn't get to bed before 2am because I worked late at the pub, and then had to get up and be in class by 9am. I think I actually fell asleep in computer class that day. Now, I stay up late, sometimes until around midnight, just to enjoy some quiet time after the girls went to bed; I check and answer emails, facebook around for a while, write my blogs, or simply watch a movie or show. I enjoy this bit of couple or me time at night, and am still able to get up with Lily at 6:30, after having been up twice during the night to tend to Violet. I have to say, I'm almost proud of myself :-)
2. Food: Ok, this might be a no-brainer, but before being a mom, I couldn't say of myself that I provided the best and most nutritious food for anyone; in fact, I did not produce ANY food whatsoever.
3. Organization skills: In between lack of sleep, mommy-brain, caffeine jitters, and meeting the needs (and demands) of a 2-year old while balancing a newborn, it is a sheer wonder, that I am able to remember anything. Thus, making lists (and remembering where they are) and keeping my calendar organized is quite a feat sometimes. Also getting said children to their various appointments and activities on time is a challenge, which I mostly master, to my own surprise. This type of organization skills are still new to me; until Violet's birth, I was mostly responsible for making sure that the family gets their necessary check-ups, keeping an eye on the number of diapers still in the box (and providing refills, if necessary), and provide the entertainment at night and during the weekends, which were at times filled with more activities than necessary, just to make up for the time I missed with her while being at work during the week (indeed, SAHM and working moms need a much different set of organization skills, even though I cannot say that either is superior to the other).
4. REAL superpowers (?): Have you ever read/heard reports in the news(paper) about a mother who lifts up a car to free her trapped child? Well, they come up every once in a while, but let's be honest, something like that is EXTREMELY rare, and we all hope we never have to figure out if this kind of super-strength really exist in us. However, we sometimes manage to muster some sort of super-strength, whether it is physical or psychological. I remember Lily being sick and in the hospital for dehydration when she was about 13 months old. I felt so help- and powerless, condemned to stand by and watch. For a few days she would not eat or drink, just nurse a lot, but at that point I didn't produce enough milk any more to keep her hydrated. There we were, in the pediatric ward, trying to get an IV into my completely parched little girl. I remember her lying there on the bed, wrapped tightly in that blanket to keep her from moving while the nurse tried over and over again to get the needle in her small, dry veins. Even though she was completely lethargic for most of the time, our little girl managed to muster the strength to struggle and fight against the swaddles and the nurse, who kept hurting her. And even though it ripped my heart out, I knew I had to be there for her and hold her. This task ripped my heart even more to shreds, but I simply couldn't let anyone else do it, I just needed to be there, look into her eyes, and comfort her in between the attempts, cradle her little head and kiss her eyelids while she drifted off again (writing this still makes me tearing up). At some point the nurse asked me if I wanted to take a break to collect myself. I wondered why she asked me that because I was very calm and determined in my task; at that point I accidentally caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and almost didn't recognize myself: I was white as the wall with finger-wide bright purple rings under my eyes. I know I must have been completely drained and exhausted, both physically and mentally, but just thinking about my little girl kept me going. This is the real superpower of a mother, being there for their children unconditionally, no matter what. I would never want to go through such a day again, but would gladly do it over and over again for my daughters, to show them in any situation that I love them beyond anything words could possibly express.
But like every true superhero, I couldn't do it without my tireless "sidekick", aka husband. Before Violet's arrival, it was mostly him who was in charge for getting Lily to her appointments and check-ups (that were mostly arranged by me), keep her entertained with occasional Daddy-Daughter dates or trips to the playground, while putting up with my moods at times (especially during my pregnancy with Violet, even though I was not nearly as bad as some women). Being at home since Violet's birth, we mostly share all those activities, even though I try to give him a time-out every once in a while and enjoy time with my girls.
After all that, I suggest a small but important change to said bumper sticker: it would be more accurate to say "We are parents, ..." than "I'm a Mom, ...", because I admit, I would be lost at times without Richard. Yes, I could go and run home to my parents for help, but let's face it, we're grown-up women who need to get their act together by themselves rather than running to their parents for help with every little issue (even though it is never a shame to ask for help or support every once in a while, everyone needs a break sometimes!). Raising kids is definitely teamwork, and I am glad that I have such a wonderful partner, who complements me in every regard and who supports me every step of the way.