Before I was a mother, when I was still in the throws of anticipating all that motherhood could possibly entail, I was desperately clutching to some mental checklist on what makes a mother. What makes a mother, of course, based on all of the articles I read, the blogs, the books -- what everyone said was best, of course, was what I wanted. After all, I'd never been a mother before, why wouldn't I want to do the best things, the right things? As life usually does when it wants to knock you completely off balance before it all gets to your head, things went a little different than I had planned. After trekking through some murky, dark months, I realized that everyone else's best wasn't my best. My best wasn't everyone else's best. What someone else's baby loved, mine wouldn't. The way in which another mother bonded with her child wasn't the only way to bond with her child. And somehow over the course of being a mother, the best mother that I possibly know how to be, I found myself. My voice. The me that had been somehow buried deep inside of my body. It felt good to uncover the me that was forced to stay stifled underneath hard years, college years, final exams and papers and paperwork and a mortgage and a dead end job I couldn't quit fast enough. I had lost myself for a while. Ethan helped me to find it. And as he grows, I continue to find more pieces of my own puzzle that I had lost somewhere in the nooks and crannies of growing up.
I myself am more alive than I was three, four years ago. I was lost in the shuffle. I would keep things I felt, thought, wanted in the pit of my stomach with an intense need to swallow them down and keep them there because what would people think? When I was sixteen I tried leaving the house in a pair of Converse high tops with stiletto heels welded to the bottom and my mother chased me down with pleas of "what would people think?" and the truth was that I didn't care. I still don't care. For a while, I cared -- but then I found the beauty in knowing myself. In living the way I was meant to live. In loving the way I want my child to love. In appreciating the sincerity of his smile when he sees his green toenail polish and knocking back everyone else's sarcasm and side eyes with simple pity. I am the me that I know my son can be proud of. I live each day to lay out a canvas for him to create on, to admire the beauty of what he can paint with the wonderment and sweetness in his soul. I revel in his masterpieces and the light in his eyes and way he knows my arms, my lap are his safe place and always will be. I want him to be able to tell me everything, always, even when he's a teenager and life gets a little tricky and hearts get a little messy. I want him to know he can never shock me or surprise me because life is flamboyant and colorful and chaotic and wonderful, and if you don't open your arms and eyes and embrace the mess and the world in it's entirety, you are missing out on so much. So much. Every day, I witness so many people missing out on so much and I promise myself, for the sake of my child, that I never will miss out on anything again.
Ethan and I spent two hours at the park this morning until the morning clouds gave way to the brutal afternoon sun. We colored with chalk, had a picnic, went down the big slide and walked the shaky bridge on the playground that Ethan is determined to conquer on his own. After having a week off, my husband went back to work today and Ethan was a mess with cries of daddy, daddy, daddy and it only made sense to shove as much fun as we could into the morning before we fall back into our regular routine of paint splattered jeans and tiny toddler hands mushed into play sands and doughs.