To the one who made me a mother,
The one I made a mother said to me during a recent phone conversation, “You used to care what people think of you.” She was right; I did. And I also “used to” view everything negatively, talk poorly of others, and doubt my ability to accomplish goals.
Now, before I go any further, I want to be clear that I do not believe, even for a second, that I have magically transformed into a flawless person; in fact, every single day I experience weak moments where my “old self” visits, at times only staying for a couple minutes but, on the really tough days, up to several hours. So, what changed? I’m going to have to rewind backward four years to explain this one . . .
It was spring break. I made it. I collapsed on the couch while the Keurig warmed up and signed into Facebook. (Man, did it feel good to not have to grade papers that Friday!). I am still unsure if it was fate or sheer luck, but my thumb paused its counter-clockwise circles directly on an image that a former student of mine had shared:
Prior to learning of this word, you were, of course, always a possibility but never a thought. And this remained the same for a few more days until I finally forced myself to take some time away from schoolwork and go on a walk to process its definition. A wave of disappointment overcame me as I failed to find a reason why I had become so self-absorbed over the years, thinking my life and my career was the hardest, and did not once take the time to really even consider others, including our closest family members and friends− your father included. Through even deeper reflection, I realized that sonder was actually only a fragment of the self-improvement I needed to do but also that no personal growth could be made if I maintained my same 65-hour, work-obsessed lifestyle.
So, on that cool yet sunny afternoon at the park− the same park at which I push you on the swings now− it dawned on me that I needed a change, a change in preparation for you. If you have taken after your engineer dad, you probably already figured out that you made your debut in my mind two years before you were even born. No, and I thank God every day for this, it did not take us long to get pregnant. But until I could be the mother I wanted you to have, I could not be in any less of a hurry.
At first I thought that if I could remove the most stressful elements from my job (the long drive, the heavy course load, and the time-consuming yearbook), I could remain a teacher and still be a good mom. I mean, many teachers are moms, so why couldn’t I make it work? That summer, I interviewed and landed a position at a school closer to home with fewer courses on my plate, including no longer having to advise the yearbook class. I recall temporarily feeling elated, daydreaming about all the time I would have for others and maybe even the occasional trip to the gym during the school week now? Over time, however, it became more apparent to me that no matter how much I would try to make bettering myself a priority, I would be defeated by the stresses of the career.
Two years later, when I was creating a quiz on semicolons at 3 a.m. after my water broke, it became clearer than ever that I needed to leave teaching not only for you but also your father, future sibling, and, ultimately, me. I have always been a big believer in once you make something a priority, it becomes a reality; however, when I changed career paths and prioritized becoming the mother I knew I could be, a miracle honestly occurred. And you, my little one, are the reason for that.
There’s no doubt that becoming a mother changes our lives forever, but often this phrase is said with such a negative tone. It’s true that I’ll never have the same body or free time I used to, but this Mother’s Day and every day, I’m instead choosing to focus on the person I’ve become− and will continue to shape into− since having you.
Love you, always,