Motherhood is not for wimps!
Last weekend, we had a baby shower for my sister-in-law Prem. There are four babies on the way into the Adams/ Hodge family, and as the bellies are growing so are the fears and hopes in each of the mothers. Lisa, a first time momma is having twin boys (no anxieties need to be explained on this one), Stacey, already a mother to a beautiful girl, is having her first son, and experiencing the “I don’t know what to do with a boy”, anxiety, and my sister-in-law Prem is having another girl who will be born in Philadelphia, for sadly they are moving next month. Her anxiety is having baby in a new town.
During the shower, I sat with my “sisters” individually, and each had their concerns on what they were about to undertake. I am the eldest amongst them…by far…they see me as having the answers on all things maternal. They wanted my assurance everything would work out fine. Here’s the truth, motherhood is not for wimps. There is a period in every mother’s life when she enters bootcamp. Bootcamp is a dirty, scary, strenuous place in a Momma’s life, but it is where you drop all those ideals and pretentiousness, and chose to be the Momma God made you to be.
My bootcamp started when Nick and Christian were toddlers. Jay’s work carried him to Phoenix from Tuesday to Friday, planting me into two years of Military Momma Training comparable to that of a Navy Seal. Jay returned Friday night to a clean house, lit candles, clean boys, a made-up wife shoving toddlers at him, but it was all a farce. The reality was we spent the week in the muddy trenches.
It seemed the wars always happened the moment his plane pointed towards Phoenix, the multiple viruses fueling temperatures over 104 (both boys in cool bath tub, while Momma praying fervently), the cream carpeting being painted blue after their favorite cartoon Blue’s Clues, the boys going missing, and just as I was about to file a report with the police, the phone rang.
“Uh… Tammy are you missing something? They are in my garage pulling all the sports equipment out of the cabinet.”
If they were going to steal, why did they have to pick “Perfect Mommy” three doors down? You know the one. She has the perfect yard, perfectly dressed kids, and the tight body? She works out with baby tied to her chest, and she never eats sugar..that in itself makes me suspicious of her.
“I’ll be right over” Ashamed, I hung up the phone.
I felt as if the large “L” “loser momma” was branded on my hot face, as the boys and I put all the sports equipment back into the labeled cabinet.
On the way home…
“Boys, why did you go to her house?”
“They have the good toys.”
“Of course they do.”
Motherhood humbles you.
Christian was a particular challenge. His favorite toy was anything with a mushy feel between his fingers, and unfortunately there is a stinky variety of mush he especially adored…his poo.
I tried everything to break his addiction during those months. I bundled him up for bed like he was about to climb Mount Everest in the dead of winter, just to keep those fingers from digging up the smelly treasure. If I saw the monitor light go off after his nap, I sprinted up two flights of stairs with the speed of a leper, only to find poo covered hair, a big grin on his mouth, and all the flaps opened on the multiple onesies. Have you ever tried to scrub poo out of textured drywall?
One particular week I hit rock bottom. My day-husband, a lady named Ana, whom Jay hired 15 hours a week with a job description “keep my wife sane”, screamed, “Miss Tammy he’s awake!”
Fifteen minutes later she found me sobbing on the floor of his bedroom. “I just can’t do it again Ana! Poo Poo is killing me.” I grabbed her ankles as if they were my life lines.
Ana squeezed my shoulders, for she knew if I died she would loose her job. “There.. there… Miss, l clean up this time. You go have coffee.”
That week, I asked for prayer from my Bible study girls. One offered me this bit of godly encouragement, “Christian is very creative like his Momma,” before winking in my direction. I smelled myself all the way home.
Motherhood strengthens you.
Christian was and is a very sweet boy. When he overcame the poo stage (angels singing in heaven) he discovered the joy of cooking. One morning at 4 am I awoke to the aroma of coffee in my bedroom, and his large black eyes peering over the cup I was drinking from the night before.
“Hi Christian, what are you doing honey?”
“I made you coffee, Mommy.”
“Oh, Thank you.” I sat up and peered into the cup, but it was empty. I pretended to sip.
“Yum this coffee is so good!”
“Mommy, I’m making you breakfast too.” He sprinted out of the room. I stretched and let out a big yawn, mouth wide open his words broke through the fogginess of my tired mind.
Fear instantly filled every fiber of my being.
I jumped up. “Christian, I’ll make you breakfast instead!” I hollered, following the brown trail of coffee from bed to door soaking the cream carpet..
I entered the kitchen cautiously, the soundtrack from the movie “Jaws” beating in my ears. The refrigerator door was ajar, shining light across the floor. I peeked around the bar into the family room.
I jumped. He was there… in the darkness. I turned on the lights.
“I’m making you some eggs!” He stirred the eggs into a very large circle with a wooden spoon like a chef.
I gulped…”That’s very sweet of you, but next time Mommy would love to cook with you.”
“I wanted to surprise you!” he said. “You’re the best Mommy ever.”
Let me just say, that expensive Oriental rug never smelled the same, there was a gamey stench for years. Have you ever tried steam cleaning a dozen eggs out of wool? Chunks of cooked egg spewed everywhere.
A loving mother grants grace when needed.
To satisfy Christian’s love for messy, I pulled out one layer of shrubs by our front door and made a sandpit. Something the neighbors couldn’t see from the street, but I could see from the door. I threw in pots and pans, trucks and cars, shovels, and some days a bucket of water. I sat my two boys in the pile of mess and said. “Go for it!”
The joy in their eyes over this wonderful gift was priceless. One day my neighbor stopped by with her two boys to see if mine could play. Her boys watched enviously at my war-painted troops in their trench.
“If you want, I’ll watch your boys. They could play in the mud.” I suggested.
“Please Mommy can we?” They pleaded.
She wrinkled her nose. “No, you don’t have any clothes that would be appropriate.”
“They don’t need clothes. I’ve got plenty of stained up clothes they can borrow.” I smiled, as if I was bragging about by boy’s merit badges.
All of a sudden she announced they had “that thing” to do and left. For a moment, I compared my dirty piglets to her’s and felt sorry for her boys. I slipped off my shoes and jumped into the mud pit with them. I became dirty Momma of the Turtle Creek subdivision.
You decide what kind of mother to be, and sometimes that means compromise and creativity.
I was pregnant…AGAIN!
I knew this one was a girl. I was smaller. I felt great. It must have been a girl. I picked all girl names and designed the nursery.
I bribed the doctor for an early ultrasound with a huge fruit basket. I thrust it in his hands and said, “I need to know Doc.” I had this fantasy I was going to bring the first girl into the Adams family. Never mind I brought the first grandchild, that was not important enough. I had to deliver the girl. The ultrasound picture I would put in a Christmas card. My mother in law would be so happy, for she had four boys and always wanted a girl…
“I see it.” The doctor’s voice broke through my dream.
I sat up. “IT? Did you say IT?” I wanted to snatch that fruit basket and bomb him with apples.
“Congratulations! You’re having a boy.”
I held back the tears, until we were in the car and then the dam burst.
“It’s all your fault!” I turned on my husband. “You’re too…too… masculine or something. I don’t know what it is.” I pointed at him accusingly. “You only make boy babies!” As if I accused him of an affair and wanted a divorce.
I cried for two days. Then, I wiped my eyes, put on my fatigues, and started planning for a new baby boy, while begging God to give my husband a new job.
I was about to give up on that new job, when at the end of my pregnancy Ed Kobel showed up. He was Jay’s competitor in Phoenix, and was running the development company for his brother Eddie DeBartolo in Tampa. By the time Colin was born, Jay had a new job. He drove to Tampa daily, but that was much better than flying to Phoenix.
Colin was like a ray of sunshine. He made me feel like I was a “perfect” Mommy. When I said I needed to loose weight, he told me I was beautiful. When I painted, he said it was a masterpiece. When it rained and we couldn’t go to Sea World, he said Yeah! we can snuggle on the couch. He was just that kind of child.
Motherhood is full of blessings.
Yesterday, we were walking into the grocery store, Nick stayed in the car with baby Bella, Christian came in to help me pick out the food..still the chef, and Colin wrapped his arms around me and said, “Momma, I don’t know why I love you so much, I just do.” He is a 10 year old lover, and he signed a contract to not date until he is 22. It is legal and binding.
It is in motherhood we understand the unconditional love of God.
When I found myself pregnant at 44, secretly, I was hoping for another boy, for I had no clue what to do with a girl, but God likes to keep me guessing and along came Isabella Fawn.
Having a child at my age is like being in bootcamp all over again, with the added bonus of your father telling everyone your age. Everywhere we go, “This is my daughter Tammy, she’s 45 and just gave me a granddaughter.” (as if God touched my 90 year old womb)
“Just call me Sarah,” I say.
Being a mother is the most important job I will ever have. I look back at the Mommy Boot Camp years, fondly now. I love to tell the stories of those years, for they put new Mommas at ease.
You see I’m a screwed up, mess of a Momma, and by God’s grace I’m raising four messy but loving children. They are not perfect, but they are perfect for me, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in this world.
For my “sisters”, I can assure you there will be wars. There will be moments that bring you to your knees, but in the trenches you will find humbleness, strength, grace, creativity, compromise, joy, and blessings, but most importantly unconditional love.
Remember motherhood is not for wimps.