Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Uniform of Mom

I am wearing sweats today. If you must know, it is because my youngest woke up four times last night to eat and my eldest woke me up at 6:30 to do the same. Of course, he wanted pancakes, not milk, but it still involved me dragging my butt out of bed to feed someone other than myself. I finally stumbled down the stairs about half an hour before preschool, and in order to get everyone out the door and somewhat presentable before nine, I had to don a pair of sweats.

I got them yesterday at Target and although they are trendy and brand new, I am still a mom... in sweats.


When did this happen? When did I go from looking sexy and alluring to wearing something made out of fleece? Was it when I learned how hard it was to get spit-up out of hand-washables? Or was it when I discovered that the dry cleaners is unable to removed strained squash from silk? Although I still have been known to stumble (literally) into my OB's office in a pair of pointy-toed, four-inch-heeled boots, most of the time I am wearing something a little easier to move around in. Have you ever tried wearing a skirt around a two-year-old? They don't call them curious for nothing.

I guess what I'm wondering is, Does anyone (except for my husband who is bound by the State of California to) find me attractive anymore? Don't get me wrong, "dumpy" has never been part of my definition, not by far, but my standards of attractiveness sure seem to have slumped to a level I don't think I'm comfortable with. Although fleecy sweats sure are comfortable, but I digress. The point is, I used to be the target of raised eyebrows and sly smiles, but now I'm just a woman unaware that she's been walking around with peanut butter on her boob all day.

And why would the cute guy at the Starbucks drive-thru who is young enough to have no idea what HyperColor is be attracted to a thirty-ish woman in a ball-cap and sweats driving an SUV in desperate need of a wash with two screaming kids under three in the backseat? Why wouldn't he run screaming to the nearest wholesale house to buy a Costco-size pack of condoms? I certainly would, and they're my kids!

The truth is, I have become a mom. Like it or hate it, I am no longer trying to secure a mate to ensure the survival of my species. My role is now that of the nurturer, the singer of lullabies, the buyer of Goldfish crackers. And what I need to remember on days like this is that beauty of the body is only remembered for a moment; the beauty of a mother lasts a lifetime.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Independence Day

My almost-three-year-old is becoming the most independent of little boys, which is a trait I am trying to encourage, yet fastly regretting as time goes by. While it's delightful to wake in the morning to the sound of pitter-pattering feet, it's strange to find the effects of a preschooler left to his own devices. A half-peeled banana by the computer. A box of Cheerios on the living room floor. My cell phone, covered in some unknown sticky substance and the tiny fingerprints of the guilty.

This is his home now, not just ours. I have found Stride Rites lined up in his closet with little dirty socks tucked inside. Toothpaste glopped all over the bathroom counter. Baby Teddy tucked into bed. He is owning his world, taking up more than just a part of it, and reminding us every day of his ever-evolving presence.

I look forward to watching him grow and learn, and know that one day a tall, smiling man will be standing in my kitchen with a deep voice and broad shoulders. But in my heart he will always be my boy.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Living Eternal

I lit a candle for my father today. His memorial service was a year ago today, and sometimes it feels much longer than that. Even though the memory of his passing grows fainter as each day drifts on, I will always remember what it meant to be his daughter.

This is the legacy of parenthood. There is so much of our heart that keeps beating after the day that we die. It beats in the chests of our children, in our traditions, our hopes, our fears -- whatever part of ourselves we choose to leave behind. Will it be your love of music you pass on? Your talent for turning out the most perfect meatloaf this side of the Mississippi? Your passion for Pottery Barn? Will your daughter draw roses like you do? Will your son drive with your lead foot? Or will it be something different -- your lack of patience, your unfinished dreams, your regrets. Every day we have this choice. Our children will remember it all, the good and the bad, but we will always live with the guilt. And we will become distant parents because of it.

I know this because I experienced it. It was my father's legacy. His sadness and anger at the unfairness of life prevented him from truly sharing his soul. I know it is difficult to admit your mistakes and stand in front of your child in naked, shivering honesty, but it is what makes us real. It is what makes us good.

It is what makes us parents.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Preschool Virgin

Yesterday marked a most momentous occasion in my almost-three year journey of motherhood: my son's first day of preschool. I find that as much as I want him to learn and grow and discover, I don't want to let him go. I want him to always hold my hand as he crosses the street or twirl his hair as he sucks his thumb. I want Baby Teddy to always have to get a nametag when he gets one; I want to hear "Hold me, Mommy," every day for the rest of my life. I strive to etch these moments onto my heart so they are always reachable when I drag out the family photo album and study his face that has already changed so much. For these are the days that are the hardest part of watching our children grow up: watching him go, watching him venture forth into the world of Play-Doh and play scissors, and knowing that the saddest moments are yet to come.