(Note: As it seems to be going with blog posts lately, this was written yesterday. Meant to post it yesterday too, but that didn’t happen, haha.)
Today, as with two other days each year, I am given reason to pause and reflect. Given that two of these days fall less than 3 weeks apart, I feel inspired to write. There is a cake baking in the oven (NOT A BUN! A literal cake. There are no buns, or plans to have buns, in the oven at any point in the near future.), ToddlerBoy is napping, I am fresh and clean. In other words, I have some rare downtime, and I’d like to share my thoughts with you.
To understand my present, I need to touch a little on my past. For the most part, growing up, I was a good kid. I misbehaved no more and no less than the average kid, and I’d say that, up until a certain time, I fell a little on the “less” side of that troublemaker line. During my senior year, a bout of what I now know to be depression led to me skipping a lot of school. Yet, as I’ve always tended to do, I ended up ratting myself out. My honesty in regards to that led to the principal changing my attendance record, striking nearly half of my missed days from the record, and excusing all except 6 or 7…I just know that the number of unexcused absences my senior year was one day below the point which would have led to formal academic repercussions. The principal said that he believed in me, that my voluntary admission of my truancy, along with a “tell-tale academic record” (which I now understand to mean that he saw the decline of already tenuous grades and came to the conclusion that something else was going on) told him that in my heart, I really did mean well, and that my actions were born of a misplaced need to “hang in there”. I was punished with two days of in-school suspension, and the monitor turned a blind eye when a couple of my teachers came by to drop off that day’s lesson (if I remember right, we were allowed to make up work missed prior to the ISS, but we could not do that day’s work while there, or something like that), or a packet of work I had missed from my time away. With a particularly…rule-abiding teacher (whom I never asked or expected to bend those rules. I accepted my consequences as resultant of my actions), whose class I had skipped the most, my brother intervened, sweet-talking her into having mercy, explaining that there really was something else going on. He talked her into allowing me to make up a test I had missed, but there was a problem. To pass her class, I would have had to get at *least* a 98%. He also talked her into giving me a chance at extra credit, which would lower my margin of ‘error’ on the test…I’d only have to get a 95%. My brother gave me a pep talk beforehand, and when I walked in, this teacher flat-out said to me “I don’t even know why you’re trying…given your failure to turn in assignments, I don’t believe you know the material well enough to pull this off, and to be very honest, Miss Merry, I just flat-out don’t think you can.”
Never, ever, tell me I can’t do something. Give it to me easy, but don’t flat-out say “You can’t”, because I will. I completed the extra credit, scored a perfect 100%, and passed her class with a 60.1%
I was expected to go to college, and so I did, and depression came along for the ride. At the end of the semester, I was failing every class, and rather than do what every other freshman in the same boat did and sign up for the same classes next semester, I simply dropped out. I was too embarrassed to admit to my failure. Things just went downhill from there.
I became, from the age of 18 to 21, someone I no longer recognized. I did things that, when I was younger, I swore to never do. I did drugs. I drank…excessively, to the point that I’m sure my liver was ready to go on strike. I hated myself, and it showed. Anything I could do to self-destruct, I did.
But one night, a little pee stick changed my entire world. I was, a little under 2 months after my 21st birthday, undeniably pregnant. I really hate to reference Twilight, but when Jacob describes imprinting as the shifting of his world, when the entirety of existences rearranges itself until the subject of imprinting is the at the center, that the ‘imprintee’ becomes like gravity itself, holding you to the earth…that’s not (to me at least) describing any kind of romantic love, not at all. What Jacob describes is the exact shifting of my world until it centered around the new life growing within. Though it happened instantly, it was a continual shift that kept growing, driving me to be a better person than I’d been up until then. I may have hated myself, but I loved this baby with everything I had, and I wanted to be the best I could…for her.
The movement continued and did not stop blooming until 7 months after that humid August night. After an exhausting 50 hour labor, in the early hours of what became a beautiful April day, SchoolGirl finally arrived…nine days late. The momentum of existence around me slowed down and circled around my new center…my gravity…my daughter. I no longer put myself first. Every move I made, every choice, every breath, every path, was taken with her best interests at the front of everything. I hadn’t just grown up…anyone can grow up, we all do it…I began to mature, I began to thrive…and I began to love myself (this endeavor is ALWAYS a work in progress though), simply because there was a little girl who loved me unconditionally, whether I laughed or cried, whether I loved myself or not. I strove constantly to love myself simply because if somebody loved me like that, then there must be something good there.
I had many aspirations growing up. I wanted to be an archaeologist. I wanted to travel to far away lands and make appearances on the History Channel. I wanted to backpack across mountains. I haven’t done any of those things…yet.
Motherhood has been my highest calling. While fraught with many downsides and imperfections, while trying at times, it is, overall, immensely rewarding and fulfilling. With each of my children, I have felt the shift, the tug of their gravity tethering me to their beating hearts, the anchoring of my soul to theirs. Every breath I take is for them. In becoming a mother, I have truly learned what it means to be unselfish…sometimes to the extreme (You have to take care of yourselves too, Mamas, to fully be able to take care of your children.), I have learned that emotions experienced as a mother are exponentially magnified. Fear can become paralyzing, sorrow can drown you…and on the other side, the sheer joy my children have brought me has been a light piercing my darkest hours.
The Mister salvaged my nearly defeated belief in love as a romantic notion.
My children have taught me that unconditional love is real and tangible to the point I can almost taste it. It permeates everything about me, and while sometimes I feel like Merry is being lost in the background of my all-encompassing role as “Mommy” (again, Mamas, sometimes you may feel selfish tending to your own needs, but it keeps you grounded, and helps you be the best Mom you can be), I wouldn’t trade it for all the ‘downtime’, chocolate, wine, or coffee in the world. My children love me because I am their mother, because I try my hardest to be the best mom I can, because I gave them life…
Someday, I hope to tell them how they gave me life.