Today, dd starts Kindergarten. It seems improbable that I’m the mother of a kindergartner. How is that possible?
It’s funny how, as she leaned on me yesterday morning – fussing and crying because I wasn’t coming with her on her school “visit” day events thanks to work commitments – I wasn’t even sure how this was happening. This was my child, clearly, and I was supposed to comfort her as best as I could for someone who had already RSVP’ed to a full-day meeting at a vendor’s site. And she looked at me and called me “mommy” and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how I had a child who was so grown. Just unbelievable.
For the longest time, before I met dh, I never wanted kids. They always seemed annoying. Loud. Sometimes cute, but more often than not, I was happy when I wasn’t required to do anything for them. When dh and I started dating, we (fairly early on) had to have “the talk” about how we’d ever raise kids. I shrugged and said, “Of course, any kids of mine would be Jews.” (Being Jewish, and being female, that’s the law, dontcha know.) He seemed confused, since he was raised American Baptist. Oops. Guess that’s something we’d have to figure out.
Eventually, we did figure it out – we’d raise them with both sets of traditions. And we do, muddling through it all as best as we can. Neither of us is religious, though we have religious identities and we both are spiritual people to varying degrees. We don’t attend synagogue or church, and we typically only do our big nods to organized religion on the respective high holidays – Passover, Easter, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah and Christmas (I omit Yom Kippur from my list for various reasons which could be a blog post unto itself).
When we decided to have kids, and then got pregnant, there was a part of me that really went “Oh, crap” rather frequently. Once I was pregnant, there was no turning back for me, and it seemed inescapable that I would become a mother. What on earth did that mean? I remember crying on my pillow one night while pregnant with dd, snuffling over the fact that I was worried I didn’t have a maternal instinct. DH calmed me down and told me that there was no way that was true, and he was right. When I had people reporting to me, I often defended them like a mother lion protecting her cubs. If they went wrong, I’d set them straight, for sure, but I tried to shield them from other people’s BS as much as possible. In other words, just like a mom.
So then we come back to my moment of reverie: dd hanging on me, anguished and looking only for her momma. And that’s me. And though I know she’s mine, there’s something odd about seeing this tall, slim, gorgeous girl coming to me and looking at me as though I can make it all better. I wish I could…but even the most super of all moms isn’t able to make everything all better all the time.
And I wasn’t able to get her to stop crying completely before I left for my all-day meeting; she was wailing for me as I walked out the door. But dh assured me that she’d calmed down not long after I left the house, and later reports from both of them showed that she had a good time visiting at school with her new teacher and the people running the after-school program. And today, I get to walk her up to school on her first day.
So mommy will be there sometimes, but not all. And no matter what, mommy is me. It’s as undeniable as the air I breathe. There are clearly days where it will seem strange, as though I blinked and my life fast-forwarded years in a heartbeat. But as bizarre as it may seem to stare at this wondrous beauty of a girl who can’t possibly be old enough for elementary school – and yet clearly is – the look in her eyes reminds me of the perfect truth reflected in her eyes: mommy is me.