Welcome to The Motherhood Club
by Jenny Tananbaum
Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and while I will unabashedly milk the ‘no laundry, no cooking, no cleaning’ moratorium for a full 24 hours, I think it’s only fair that I make a little confession. See, the truth is, on my very first mother’s day, almost 12 years ago, as the doctor implored me to give just one more push, I actually contemplated crossing my legs and calling the whole thing off. I had been waiting for this moment for 42 weeks, but even despite the nine plus months of sleepless nights and swollen feet and ‘please help me not pee when I sneeze’ prayers, at that moment, I wasn’t really sure I wanted to proceed to the next step.
The real problem was my mother - she’s the real deal: a nurse, baker, banker, chef, chauffeur, teacher, caretaker, travel agent – she could do it all, and so seamlessly and effortlessly. She oozed motherhood, and here I was already 2 weeks overdue and couldn’t even get this baby out of me. I didn’t have the credentials. I had no experience. I was all wrong for the job.
But, of course, there was no stopping the inevitable, and soon my son was placed in my arms for the first time. Instantly he snatched a piece of my heart and has yet to let go. How is it possible that life can change so drastically and yet seem so perfectly right? I was suddenly infused with a sense of bravado – I can do this! I am woman. I am mother. Hear me roar.
A week of constant feedings, sore breasts and uterine cramping, and I was a mess. I struggled to plug along with that superwoman maternal bravado, trying to prove to everyone around me that I could do it all – until my mother – that woman who always seemed so perfectly in command of the chaos, quietly said, “My mother wasn’t able to help when you kids were born. I wish I hadn’t been so alone.” I knew immediately that not only didn’t I have to march along alone, but that I couldn’t. As a new member of the Motherhood Club, I needed my fellow mothers - these are the women who understand like no one else the every day fatigue, crankiness, happiness, frustration, disappointment, sheer joy of being a Mom; only they can comprehend that this is one damn hard job – there’s no punching the clock on this one – but it’s also the most rewarding. We are joined together on a wonderful, exhausting journey. Together we learn how to swaddle and nurse, how to shop for the perfect pediatrician and the healthiest snack; together, we find kid friendly restaurants, age appropriate movies, rain day excursions; we share recipes and stomach bugs and homework help.
So, welcome to my new column, NJ Smart Mom’s Survival Tips. Of course, I’d like to pretend I know it all and, but the truth is, it sometimes seems I don’t know much more now than when I held my son in my arms twelve years ago. And if I take quick stock of all my missteps along the way – well, it’s a miracle I got this far. But I still hold close that one tip passed from one mom to another – you can’t do it alone. I reach out to those close to me daily for assistance and guidance and those quick little pick-me-ups. Continue on this crazy roller coaster of motherhood with me. We’ll buckle, up hold on and careen along together.
Got suburban mom survival tips? Send your ideas or thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Mother’s Day.