Thursday, August 11, 2005

Happy Birthay to Sophie

Three years and nine months ago, two blue lines changed my life forever. I took that pregnancy test just to prove to myself that I wasn't. I was. Today my daughter, Sophie Gene, is turning three and sometimes, even though she is as much a part of me as one of my limbs, as much as I love her, I still expect this whole thing to be some big mistake or a strange practical joke.

As a little girl, I wanted to be a mother. My mom tells about how I would lift up my shirt and try to nurse my dolls. But when I came into my teens and twenties, I crossed motherhood off of my list of things to do (for several reasons other than that of pure terror).

For one, I felt that mothers are/were the most scrutinized creatures on the planet. Just ask anyone you know--her mother fucked her up in one way or another. The psychoanalysist's question, "Tell me about your mother," has become a cliched joke. Crazy, weird, and just plain evil people blame their lives on their mothers.

Even more frightening to me before having Soph, was the knowledge that mothers can be, and often are, crazy themselves. Ever read Beloved or Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood? Crazy mothers are everywhere--just turn on the TV or look in your backyard. My own mother definitely had her crazy moments. Some of my most vivid childhood memories of her are her bimonthly screaming and crying breakdowns on the state of the house. She once attacked me with a wet towel I had left on the floor. I was afraid of The crazy mother because I knew I had the potential to be her. When Janz was two, I threw his toy fishing poll across the room and broke my favorite vase. I once lit Erik's favorite baseball cap on fire (in the barbecue grill of course--safety first). The line over to crazy didn't look to hard to cross. I'd been on the other side a time or two.

I also knew that whatever I did, I would never be a perfect mom. During my entire pregnancy, an imaginary but very mean OB nurse/drill sergeant marched around with her clipboard bombarding me with questions. "How many wet diapers should a newborn have each day? What is cradle cap? How do you tell the different between real and false labor? Do you have enough onesies and booties? What is this--a pacifier? Haven't you heard about nipple confusion? And what is this? Baby powder with cornstarch? ! Didn't you read our memorandum about babies breathing in cornstarch and its link to SIDS? What kind of mother do you think you'll be anyway?"

Well--the truth is, I'm not the kind of mother I thought I'd be. Sophie still sleeps with a bottle, something I swore she'd never do, and she's THREE for Christ's sake. I let her eat in front of the TV on a regular basis. I've had WAY more crazy mom moments than I care to share. I pretty much expect the mommy police to show up at any moment of the day.

I suppose that at times I do feel like a member of the strange cult of motherhood. I've been through all the initiation rites. I've been pooped on, puked on, handed a booger. My mother, who by the way is now one of my best and dearest friend, assures me often that Sophie is a smart, sweet, dear little girl rather than the possessed demon child that I sometimes think she is.

So happy birthday Sophie. I guess someday I'll get used to the fact that I'm your mom. I promise to keep trying my best to do my best for you.

Today's best thing about being a mom:
While she was playing in the "Funplace" at McDonalds today (I know--germy gross etc., but it's her birthday after all.) Sophie managed to rip her dress. When I asked what happened, she said, "The stepsisters did it mom!"

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
My back is totally killing me from lugging around all 40 lbs. of my very sturdy little gal.


patrice said...

happy, happy, happy birthday soooooooooooophieeeee!!!

and congratulations to you, for making it through another year. everyone says what a sweet and beautiful girl sophie is, and that's a compliment to you, too. I think there are alot of us who wouldn't have chosen to be mothers - either at all or at that time - but found themselves in that position; and now can never imagine their life without that child.

the stepsisters are always fucking up my shit, too. goddamn them.

NME said...

A very happy birthday to Sophie! And congrats to you for making it through one more year of toddlerhood.

The sanest mommy in the world has had crazy moments - and if someone tells you they haven't had one then they are just plain lying. The fact that though you can remember vividly your mother's crazy moments you are close friends now is a testament to what kind of relationship you can have with Sophie later even if you aren't perfect. Because who the hell is?

My theory is that if you are that concerned about being a great mom for your child and trying to do everything right for her - doing your best to do your best for her -then you are doing exactly what it takes to be a good mom. If you weren't concerned it would be a different story.

Now go eat some cake!

Jen said...

Hey, at least you are past the terrible twos, right! I am sure you are a great mom; it is just hard to get perspective from where you are standing.

amandak said...

happy happy birthday sophie, dear

happy days will come to you all year

if I had a wish, then it would be,

a happy happy birthday to you from me

lonna said...

I'm sorry that I missed Sophie's birthday while I was away. Happy Birthday Sophie!

I didn't want to be a mother either when I was younger. I was so afraid that I would be as awful as my parents. I was scared that I would hurt and berate my children. Then I worked with kids in a group home, and I found out that I'm not like that.

I am by no means perfect. I find myself yelling at Dermot more than I would like, but it's hard to always be in control. When Dermot and I were dealing with nipple confusion during the first 2 months of his life I feel like I was miserable to him. I jostled him more than I should have and I yelled at him. In my head I knew that none of it was his fault, but in my heart I felt like such a failure and I took some of it out on him. I think that we all do that. I think that the most important thing to do is to start the next experience or next day or next week or whatever as a brand new experience. Yesterday I was nuts, but today I am going to start from scratch.

Also when it comes to making decisions about your child (like the night time bottle) we all make decisions before the situation comes up. Then reality hits us in the ass and we have to do what's best for our family. I was a no pacifier person before I had Dermot, and he ended up with a pacifier within 24 hours in the hospital. He was a "high-suck" baby and the pacifier only helped it. Live and learn.

You're a great mother because you actually think about this stuff and all of the good stuff that we have heard about Sophie here and in your sisters' blogs is because you and Erik are her parents.