What I Love about Her or A Mother's Day for the Rest of Us

"I don't regret having a child. I just wish we waited. I think because now you've mostly known me either pregnant, post partum or parenting a toddler, you haven't seen me as my best self."

This is what I told my husband recently. We were only married nine months when I got pregnant by choice (if you recall those blogs). I just assumed I wasn't fertile and that we could cross having kids off the list early and get on with our lives. How does that saying go? We plan, God laughs? Anyway...

Now, with a few years of marriage under our belt, I can say that he knows mainly the "Mom" me. That cute, fit girl who made her own pasta, ran marathons, and dragged him to open mic DJ nights in the city gave way to... well... someone else.

Pregnant, I am grouchy, unattractive, and roughly the size of a small watercraft from the first trimester on. As the parent of a toddler, I'm not much better. I'm perpetually tired, easily irritated, and he's lucky if it's a Hamburger Helper night. Some women blossom as mothers. I kinda hate those chicks.

All that to say, I got reflective this mother's day, because I really feel like I'm in it now being pregnant with an almost three year old. I'm not a new mom. I've earned my juice-stained backseat, my stretch marks,  and the messy bun that my hair has been in for three days 'cause I can't even.

Yeah, I can make a laundry list of the things I hate about the actual day-to-day act of parenting and managing a tiny human. It may not be the hardest job in the world, but it's the most worrisome, selfless, and sleep-deprived.

But, what about the good stuff? What do I love about my daughter that somehow keeps this crazy train on the rails? That list ended up being way too long, but I think I got it down to the big things.

  • I love the way she laughs. Nobody can make me crack a smile like she can, and she does it with her laughter.

  • I love that she's full of surprises. The developmental stage is fully on, and every day she's doing something new. I'm always saying, "I didn't know she knew that." At my age, people stop surprising you--particularly if you remain a cynic about human behavior. The little ones, though, still have tricks up their sleeves.

  • Although we could go a few rounds about self-absorbed natures in this new social media age, I still find it funny that when someone wants to take her picture, she strikes a pose. As an adult, I want to run and hide. She could teach me a thing or two about self-esteem.

  • I try to validate her feelings, but she's so darn cute when she's mad. At this age, her scowl is just adorable.

  • Toddler hugs. When she hugs me, she throws her entire being into it.
  • There's a beautiful moment when you're in a crowded room and your toddler is looking for you. Like when you enter a nursery after being gone, you see her before she sees you. You see her scan the room. And when her eyes land on you, and her face lights up and she runs towards you... Yeah, people climb mountains in search of that feeling.

Look, I'm not one of those moms that says every smile makes the hard parts of parenting worth it. When you haven't slept in a week, haven't seen your adult friends in months, and you have someone else's vomit in your hair, that cute little face ain't gonna make you feel any better. At the same time, there's this funky bond that defies explanation. When I have lost every ounce of energy and hope that I'll be an attractive, put-together woman ever again, I keep going. And then, I'm crazy enough to sign up for this job all over again. Why? I don't know. It's a mix of magic and God and love and something else completely inexplicable, but intangibly wondrous.

So, this is my mother's day gift to me. It's a reminder that, though some days are long, sparks of joy and beauty are evident. Maybe I need to look a little harder for them than someone else does. However, I'm glad I do. And who knows? Maybe she's teaching me, little by little, how to be an even better version of my best self.

~Jennifer +2
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