Coming to Grips with Motherhood

Motherhood.  What does that even mean?

Right now, to me, it means: I’m a mother.  Put a hood over my head.

After years of travel, doing whatever I wanted with my time and my money and my body, I became a mother because my friend Tiffany told me I had to.

“Your ovaries are getting dusty.  It’s now or never,” she said.

And I had the perfect resume for motherhood: video store manager . . . copywriter . . . track coach . . .   

So basically, it’s been a disaster. 

Motherhood: When you rent your uterus to someone without checking their credit score.

Labor and delivery seemed exciting.  Suspenseful.  Like a horror movie. Horrifying, but fun because you know it will turn out okay.  Maybe.

But at the hospital, major abdominal surgery seemed more enjoyable.  My doctor said, “I’ve never had a patient go from wanting a natural birth to a c-section so quickly.”

And so, I experienced the reverse of the classic “my doctor didn’t respect my birth plan” story. 

“But what about your birth plan?” he said.

“Where is my c-section!!!” I said.

He said, “Fine!  Have it your way!”

Motherhood: When your health insurance bends over backwards to pay for an elective weight reduction surgery.   

I quit my job because I’d waited my whole life to be a mother, and I wasn’t gunna miss one second.  But then, home, alone, incapacitated by lack of sleep, lack of schedule, lack of any reason to wear pants, with a similarly incapacitated baby who also had no reason to wear pants – a baby I had made with my own body – I thought, is this motherhood?

Motherhood: When you used to be a woman, but a sexually transmitted condition turned you into an upright milk cow.

When we moved to Alexandria, Virginia, my son was 11 months old.  This move became symbolic of my new identity.  I could redefine myself in this new place.  No one in Alexandria had ever met, Polly, middle-school teacher.  I would be, Polly, Mother.

But then I found myself not-so-subtly working into conversations how I used to be somebody.  I used to teach college.  I used to wear make-up.

See, it’ll take 20 years to raise my two sons.  That 11-month-old is now a three-year-old savant who enjoys jazz concerts and kalamata olives.  And he has a nine-month-old brother who wears 2T, has eight teeth, and is currently on the waiting list for Xavier’s School for mutants.  His super power?  A sonic scream.

Motherhood: When you take a 20-year sabbatical from reading without being interrupted and taking showers before 4:00PM.

And during this 20 year sabbatical from my own life, I’m hoping.  Hoping I can get off the couch to sweep up the cheerios.  Again.  And again.  And again.

Hoping, above all, that my sons know I love them.

Motherhood: When you love imperfectly, all day long, all night long.  And you hope, all day long, all night long, that your sons won’t impregnate anyone until they can, at the very least, fold their own laundry. 

I performed this piece at the 2013 Listen to Your Mother Show at Thanksgiving Point.  At the show, my reading also included Coming to Grips with Baby Neptune and Coming to Grips with Getting Bucked Off.  Thank you all for your amazing support!